November 5, 2011

Tech's run defense absent

AUSTIN--The most frustrating thing in football is the inability to stop what you know is coming.

So Texas Tech's 52-20 loss to Texas could have been one of the most frustrating losses in Red Raider history. Texas ran the ball 54-of-63 total plays knowing it could win Saturday's football game on the run alone.

"It's no secret, all you've got to do is look at the stats," Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We're not very good defensively making plays, but it's all about third down, it's all about tackling and it's all about stopping the run. It's basic, basic football and right now we're not good at basic football on defense and stopping the run. We haven't been all year. We've got to find some way to get better."

The Tech coaching staff tried nearly everything. They stacked the box. They put down five linemen. They even removed the safeties for supposedly better run stoppers on some plays.

But play after play, run after run, Texas worked its way to a score.

The Longhorns scored on every drive as freshman running back Joe Bergeron worked toward three touchdowns and 191 rushing yards and bruiser Fozzy Whittaker ran up the middle in the wildcat formation for two more Texas touchdowns.

The Red Raiders, now 5-4 and 2-3 in Big 12 Conference play, knew what was coming. They just couldn't stop it.

Seemingly every play Texas made was the result of a missed tackle.

"It was people not doing their assignment," linebacker Daniel Cobb said. "If 10 people are doing what they're supposed to do and one person doesn't, it's not going to work. We need to come together as a defense and work on ourselves and evaluate ourselves and figure what it is we can do. On third down, we need to figure out a way to get off the field and we just didn't do that."

Tech's offense struggled as well despite gaining 411 total yards on 82 plays and a small time of possession advantage.

The Red Raider passing game was back up after a virtual no show against Iowa State, but the running game took the day off -- gaining just 30 of the 411 yards Saturday. The offensive line wasn't much better.

Quarterback Seth Doege was knocked around more against Texas than any other team he's faced. The Longhorn defense had four sacks and nearly a dozen knockdowns. The result was four punts.

That's nowhere near good enough when you have to support the Red Raider defense that showed up Saturday in Austin.

"We trust our defense and know they're going to get better every week," offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. "We don't spend a whole lot of time talking about it. It's a full football team game. We've let them down in some situations this season too. But our guys can't worry about what happens there. They can only control what they control."

Tech still sits at least a game away from a bowl game with three games remaining, including next week's game against probable No. 2 Oklahoma State.

There are some serious issues to work on between now and then.

"You can't point at one thing," Tuberville said. "I'm not going to point at a certain player or position. I think you're going to look at it and it's the overall of making our scheme work. When we're trying to stop the run and trying to hold them to two yards, you don't give up six -- which is what we do most of the time. We're trying to stop the pass, or trying to blitz, we're able to hold up.

"We'll make some personnel changes, we'll make try some more five d-lineman defenses and try some situations where we'll take both safeties out (as we did) today. It's one of those things that you've just got to keep hunting for it and hopefully one of these games in the next two or three weeks we're able to get it done."

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