Key plays of 2020 in the Big 12: Texas Tech overpowers Baylor

Ian Boyd

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Jan 14, 2014
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Texas Tech has won nine consecutive home games against Baylor.

This stat was flashed up on the broadcast after a field goal kick with time expiring made the final score of their 2020 matchup Texas Tech 24, Baylor 23.

I was shocked by this number until I looked up the last several games in this series and remembered that from 2009 to 2018 this game was played at JerryWorld in Arlington, Texas. So you have this 2020 home victory over the Bears, and then you have to go back to 2008 for the last Tech home game in the series. The 2008 Baylor Bears were starting to figure some things out under Art Briles but faced the best team of the Mike Leach era and were (narrowly) beaten.

Naturally the next time Baylor would make the trip out to West Texas they'd be fielding a rebuilding team under Dave Aranda and set up to take another L. They did so, despite heading into the fourth quarter up 23-12. Texas Tech scored on all three fourth quarter possessions while the Charlie Brewer offense did a lot of nothing and the Red Raiders pulled out the victory.

One of the keys to their success was the run game. They ran the ball nine times in those final three drives for 38 yards at 4.2 ypc with a score. One of those runs was a goal line dive which was stopped at the line, another a two-yard score which came after the stuffed attempt, and another was a dive at the hash mark to set up the clock-killing field goal. On the other six carries the Red Raiders averaged six yards per carry and converted a third and eight situation.

Third and eight against Dave Aranda's defense

On their third and final drive, Tech really just needed to set up a field goal to win and had a pretty solid kicker who'd just drilled a 46-yarder the previous drive. With such reasoning in mind, they decided to get very conservative on third and eight from the Baylor 22-yard line toward the end of the game.

So they lined up in Y-off trips and ran tight zone:


SaRodorick Thompson picked up 15 yards and actually slid down rather than aiming to pick up a couple more in order to set up the kick.

This play is probably one which was running through Dave Aranda's mind when he was looking to patch up Baylor's roster at defensive tackle and bring in LSU transfer Siaki Ika.

Here's how it looked on the chalkboard:

Tech tight zone vs Baylor G-front.jpg

Aranda would consistently set his 3-technique to where he thought the double was coming. It was actually pretty simple to make such a determination against Tech because they had three main, downhill running plays and all of them made clear where the double team was coming. Tight zone, split zone, and power.

This is tight zone and you knew either tight zone or power were coming from Tech because the running back and tight end are on the same side of the formation. If the tight end and running back were on opposite sides, it was going to be split zone or power.

Josh Landry is the nose here and he's set to the tight end side because that's where the weight and double team are coming because that's where the tight end is going to insert himself across the line. Then Rover Dillon Doyle employs the tactic Aranda described in a clinic while discussing his tite front defense. The goal from Baylor here is to make the normal cutback lane behind the tight end insert and double team on the defensive tackle a no go for the back with the rover linebacker planning all along to show a closed A-gap before scraping over to make the stop when the running back tries to bounce it to the other side. He almost did it, too.

The problem was Baylor's defensive tackle play. Defensive tackle T.J. Franklin goes into the center but gets hooked, his outside shoulder is turned and he can't even get a hand on Thompson as he runs by. Middle linebacker Abram Smith gets mauled by Jack Anderson, who has a free run at him, and there's too much space for Dillon Doyle to navigate in trying to tackle an athlete the caliber of SaRodorick Thompson.

Josh Landry and T.J. Franklin both were more the types to play as ends in a tite front, or as 3-techniques. I'm not sure what Matt Rhule's plan was going to be for 2020 on the defensive line, maybe he was pretty sure he'd be in the NFL one way or the other, but he didn't leave an ideal situation for his successor.

Looking ahead to 2021 for Tech and Baylor

Baylor had good linebacker play in 2020 and it'll be as good or better in 2021 with Doyle, Smith, and also Terrell Bernard all returning. With Siaki Ika joining Landry, Franklin, and the rest of the Baylor defensive line room they're also going to be in MUCH better shape to play the alignment and technique games Aranda loves for setting up his backers to stuff spread runs without having to overcommit his secondary.

Meanwhile, Texas Tech quietly had a really good inside running game last season. The aforementioned SaRodorick Thompson is a really good back and he'll return in 2021, as will blocking tight end Travis Koontz.

Tech was able to block power last year due to Koontz, which is fairly unique for college tight ends, and they had a good methodology for doing it.


Tech power over Baylor.jpg

As you see in the clip, the nose tackle wasn't AT ALL up for withstanding the double team at the point of attack. In this one they had converted offensive lineman Ryan Miller in there and he just gets mauled. Dillon Doyle has zero chance of fitting in between the outside contain play by the Mike backer because within an instant he has Miller's body and two linemen all in his lap.

Tech was effective on power in general because Koontz was capable of blocking defensive ends lined up across from him and both he and the pulling guard (right or left) understood that opposing defensive ends were typically going to spill the block and make the guard pull around him. Tech's guards Weston Wright and Jack Anderson were both really effective on these inside zone and power concepts, either in combo blocking tackles off the ball or pulling and making good contact on linebackers.

Anderson is off to the NFL now but Tech returns center Dawson Deaton (6-6, 305) and Wright (6-6, 310) and can slide right tackle Josh Burger in to replace Anderson if they choose with TCU left tackle T.J. Storment transferring in and last year's left tackle Ethan Carde back.

With four lineman back, some of them legitimately quite good as run blockers, Koontz back, and Thompson leading the backfield Tech should expect to be pretty good in the run game this coming season. If they can beat Aranda's improved defensive front and pull out another win in this rivalry it'd go a long ways toward getting Matt Wells another year as head coach.
 
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