Saturday, April 19, 2014
Texas Tech offense vs. Oklahoma defense
Red Raiders QB Graham Harrell is operating Texas Tech's spread-formation offense more efficiently than it has ever been run in the past. That's scary to when you consider all of its successes dating back to the days of Kliff Kingsbury in 2001. There isn't a quarterback in the country that trusts his reads, trusts his protection and trusts his playmakers more than Harrell, and for good reason. Harrell knows the offense in and out, he is rarely under pressure and he is surrounded by a deep corps of talented receivers. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of trying to defend this offense is Harrell's ability to beat the opponent in so many different ways. This is not simply a dink-and-dunk attack. Harrell has consistently shown the ability to drive the ball downfield when he catches the opposing defense out of position, and it's not just the Harrell-to-Michael Crabtree show, either. Sure, you have to account for Crabtree's rare skills with at least some form of double-coverage on every play, but fellow WRs Detron Lewis, Eric Morris, Tramain Swindall and Edward Britton are all viable weapons in their own right. Lewis is a budding star, Morris is a pint-sized target with great hands and quickness, Swindall is a rangy target at 6-foot-3, and Britton has the speed to threaten vertically. Together they've combined for 2,263 yards and 12 scores on 178 receptions, with Crabtree totaling 1,010 yards and 18 touchdowns on 78 catches. Texas Tech threw the ball 72 times against Oklahoma a year ago and would have no problem doing the same this time around if given the opportunity. However, coach Mike Leach is a bit more committed to the running game this season, which makes his offense tougher to defend than ever before. The Red Raiders' offensive line has been sensational this season, which is the biggest reason RBs Shannon Woods and Baron Batch are averaging six yards per carry. The experienced front has also allowed just five sacks in 499 passing attempts, far and away the best ratio in college football. Harrell makes quicker decisions than most and the offense is designed to get the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible, but all it takes is a glance at the game tape versus Texas to appreciate the talent and communication skills of Harrell's offensive front. The Longhorns pass rush, led by DEs Brian Orakpo and Sergio Kindle, has embarrassed some pretty good offensive lines this season -- including Oklahoma's -- but it was practically non-existent that night in Lubbock.
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