The post Toledo message from the coaching staff was that some changes will be made and an emphasis on correcting some of the problems up front in the run game was in the works. All that work has been put in and we will see if the Hogs can run over Texas Tech like they did in 2014. Sam Pittman made some statements when asked about what the Tech front had shown in previous games to the effect of it not being a slanting/slashing philosophy. I think he was playing a bit of a mind game, as much for his players benefit as anything. The Texas Tech front did show 1 gap tendencies where they crossed the face of the offensive line to disrupt run plays in the backfield against UTEP. Will they be effective doing this after seeing what Toledo accomplished? Lets take a look at what new Texas Tech defensive coordinator David Gibbs called against UTEP last week. They are not as aggressive in stunts as Toledo but they do add some variations at times.
One of Gibbs biggest points was teaching gap integrity when taking over the job. He saw at many times last season they ran themselves out of position opening up easy cut-back lanes.
On this play, freshmen defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko in a 3 tech anticipates the snap count and blows up a UTEP power in the backfield. He has some exceptional quickness and playing in a 1 gap 4-3 like Gibbs has implemented has given him some freedom to shoot gaps in a controlled manner.
UTEP actually has the LT on the right side of the formation but run power back to the TE side and the Tech front plays it just like normal power. Fehoko reads a pulling guard and beats everyone into the backfield.
Also notice on this 1st down play the Red Raiders have 8 in the box and Im certain we will see this same look with a safety creeping down at the snap.
Last season the big problem for Texas Tech involved run fits by the linebackers. Micah Awe was lost at times and taken out of the play by misalignment. He has transitioned to the hybrid DE/LB in Gibbs' system, which gives him some simplified reads and responsibilities. On this play and a majority of snaps he is a stand up edge defender responsible for contain.
On this play UTEP runs lead with a fullback and opens a good hole by getting to the linebackers on the second level. Micah Awe #18 does a good job of setting an edge turning it back inside limiting a big play but this defense is not dominant by any means. Overall this is decent run fit but if Arkansas can consistently gain 5-6 yards like this and Enos stays with it they will have success.
The depth is not great on the front four so that may take a toll later in the game.
"The pressure on us is to stop them every now and then, get a couple turnovers and let our offense do their thing. That’s why I’m here and that’s the plan." David Gibbs
Those are the expectations for his front and defense as a whole. Slow the offense down enough for those wide outs, offensive line and QB to catch a break before going back out to throw the ball again. Maybe create a turnover every once and a while, but he has a realistic view of what that defense needs to be.
Three points to look for:
- Keep an eye up front on #4 Fehoko and see if the Arkansas center and guards can keep him out of the backfield.
-Does Arkansas get to the second level and seal linebackers?
-Can a Fullback/Hback create a crease when they slant/shoot gaps?
-Are there pin and pull techniques used when covered by a dlineman? If so this makes it easier to lose gap integrity.
Lets see if Arkansas can run the ball and put up some points to get back on track. Woo Pig.