Texas Tech's big gaps can cause big headaches for defenses

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 20, 2012 - 6:39 AM

The Red Raiders spread out their offensive linemen more than most teams, and that can create problems for opposing defenses.

hide

Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege.

Photo: Max Faulkner, Mct - Mct

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The difference amounts to two or three feet in each direction, maybe 45 inches at the extreme, nothing so significant that the average football fan would necessarily even notice. But those roomy gaps between offensive linemen that Texas Tech has made a signature component of its offense have an outsized effect on the defense that must line up against it.

"It doesn't look to the naked eye like it's a big deal," said Gophers defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys, who has documented and catalogued the Red Raiders' wide-line tendencies in preparation for next week's Meineke Car Care Bowl. "But it can be."

By not standing shoulder-to-shoulder at the line of scrimmage, the Red Raiders essentially announce what the stats prove, too: They're a passing team first, second and third. A predominantly running team never would leave those lanes to the backfield unguarded, because a tailback would be smothered before he could take two steps.

But the Red Raiders, the second-most prolific passing team in the nation last season, don't hand the ball off much, only a little more than one-third of the time. Instead, they spread out the line to spread out the defense, then use a three-step drop to get the ball downfield or toward the sidelines before pass-rushers can get there.

"The philosophy of the big splits is that you don't need as athletic linemen, because you're just asking them to backpedal and not cover [running] lanes on most snaps," Claeys explained. "It means our edge rushers have to come further to get to the quarterback. It's like running around five mountains, and the ball is usually out before you get there."

And once it's out, good luck containing the Red Raiders' receivers. Texas Tech, with senior quarterback Seth Doege normally operating the offense and completing 70 percent of his passes, connected on 42 touchdown passes this season to 10 different receivers. Darrin Moore, a 6-4 senior who along with junior Eric Ward give Texas Tech two receivers who average more than 85 yards per game, also caught 13 touchdown passes. That's exactly as many as the Gophers defense gave up this season; only 20 teams in the nation surrendered fewer.

"It'll be one of the biggest challenges we've faced all year, if not the biggest," junior safety Brock Vereen said of the Red Raiders offense, which piles up 370 passing yards a game. "Those wide splits and the quick outs make it a lot harder to get sacks, so coverage will be key."

It also means linebackers figure to blitz less and cover receivers more, since Doege is so well-versed in dumping the ball in a hurry. Besides, the Red Raiders frequently split four receivers wide, keeping safeties busy and making the defense more vulnerable to draw plays and delayed runs.

"We're going to have to play a lot of different coverages, but there's a lot of pressure on the linebackers and safeties," Gophers coach Jerry Kill said. "They're going to have to make plays in space, because [Texas Tech] will throw those little 6- and 8-yard out routes. They just do a lot of stuff that makes you tackle them in space, and if you get too greedy, then they'll go over the top on you."

The extra room on the line also means that when Texas Tech does run the ball, it's easier to create a hole.

"That's one of their biggest plays, the full draw. Once they get inside leverage on a [defender], they push that guy out and the center blocks back, and the hole is bigger," Gophers linebacker Keanon Cooper said. "As much as they throw, it means we can't overplay the pass."

Of course, there are weaknesses to the wide split, too. One big one: "They can't double-team me," defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman, a disruptive force in the middle, said with excitement in his voice. "I'm going to be one-on-one a lot. I love the wide gaps."

  • GOPHERS FOOTBALL MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL OF TEXAS

    8 p.m. Dec. 28 vs. Texas Tech • Reliant Stadium, Houston • TV: ESPN (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 101 FINAL
Orlando 94
Charlotte 109 FINAL
Philadelphia 91
Brooklyn 91 FINAL
Cleveland 95
Washington 105 FINAL
Miami 103
Minnesota 98 FINAL
Boston 114
Toronto 110 FINAL
Detroit 100
Chicago 103 FINAL
Memphis 97
Portland 129 FINAL
San Antonio 119
LA Clippers 106 FINAL
Denver 109
Oklahoma City 104 FINAL
LA Lakers 103
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 3
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Ottawa 6
NY Islanders 2 FINAL
Detroit 1
Boston 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Calgary 1
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 66 FINAL
Radford 76
Stillman 49 FINAL
Alabama 69
Case Western Reserve 65 FINAL
Bucknell 88
Niagara 62 FINAL
Buffalo 88
SD Christian 46 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 69
Concordia (MI) 60 FINAL
Central Mich 97
Northern Ill 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 58
North Florida 83 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Hiwassee 71 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Tennessee St 54 FINAL
Hampton 66
NC A&T 57 FINAL
Kent State 71
Central Penn College 65 FINAL
Liberty 94
Eastern Ky 72 FINAL
Miami-Florida 44
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
Morehead State 60
Northern Ariz 62 FINAL
Norfolk State 81
MD-Eastern Shore 43 FINAL
Old Dominion 60
St Marys-CA 47 FINAL
St Johns 53
Clemson 45 FINAL
South Carolina 68
Tenn Tech 58 FINAL
Tennessee 61
Washington-MD 46 FINAL
William & Mary 86
Bethune-Cookman 46 FINAL
Mercer 67
Furman 78 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 83
South Dakota St 53 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 49
Milligan 53 FINAL
Lamar 80
LSU-Alexandria 71 FINAL
ULM 76
Southern Utah 57 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 73
Chattanooga 58 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 68
Seattle 57 FINAL
Minnesota 92
Lipscomb 55 FINAL
Princeton 77
Winthrop 71 FINAL
SE Louisiana 81
Dickinson State 48 FINAL
North Dakota 78
New Orleans 56 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
TX-Pan American 60 FINAL
Creighton 75
Colorado State 85 FINAL
Denver 84
Alabama A&M 49 FINAL
Marquette 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 51 FINAL
Texas Tech 72
Eastern Wash 67 FINAL
California 78
Idaho State 56 FINAL
Utah State 69
Arizona 56 2nd Half 3:09
Texas-El Paso 46
Hawaii 55 2nd Half
Chaminade 32
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 62 FINAL
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Houston 56
Yale 66 FINAL
Bucknell 73
Northern Colorado 56 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 69
Belmont 86 FINAL
Mercer 83
Massachusetts 66 FINAL
Georgia State 71
George Mason 69 FINAL
Winthrop 57
Portland State 33 FINAL
Princeton 104
UCLA 71 FINAL
Samford 52
Mobile 30 FINAL
Alabama State 66
Nicholls 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 76
Toledo 65 FINAL
Nevada 56
UMass Lowell 48 FINAL
(13) Duke 95
St Marys-CA 49 FINAL
Virginia 62
McNeese State 55 FINAL
Rice 57
McMurry 49 FINAL
Houston Baptist 69
NJIT 62 FINAL
Seton Hall 74
(6) North Carolina 65 FINAL
Maine 36
Lafayette 58 FINAL
Stony Brook 60
Siena 62 FINAL
Binghamton 53
Longwood 56 FINAL
Clemson 72
Savannah State 51 FINAL
Florida State 97
(19) Syracuse 72 FINAL
(9) Baylor 74
Buffalo 68 FINAL
Manhattan 58
Canisius 43 FINAL
Michigan 79
Davidson 66 FINAL
NC State 82
Northern Ky 63 FINAL
Delaware 58
Saint Louis 81 FINAL
Austin Peay 86
(25) DePaul 64 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 98
Ohio U 74 FINAL
La Salle 63
Florida Atlantic 60 FINAL
Long Beach St 85
Miami-Florida 65 FINAL
Tulane 70
Miss Valley St 39 FINAL
Memphis 62
Ark-Pine Bluff 56 FINAL
UAB 65
Bowling Green 58 FINAL
Illinois State 54
Arkansas State 78 FINAL
Missouri State 62
ULM 42 FINAL
Wichita State 57
(16) Oregon State 71 FINAL
Southern Ill 55
Pacific 67 FINAL
New Mexico St 62
No Dakota State 79 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 86
Utah State 92 FINAL
Sacramento St 102
Bethesda (CA) 61 FINAL
Fresno State 83
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Montana 68
LSU 78 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 45
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

<
Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How much do you like the Gophers going to the Citrus Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close