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  • 2019-2020 Football Season

    You read that correctly. Texas has not won four consecutive games on its home field since 2009. That could all change starting this weekend. Texas plays four more home games this season, starting with Okie State.
    Meanwhile, Oklahoma State is the proud owner of both an active 4 game winning streak against Texas, the longest current streak, and a 4 game winning streak inside DKR, also active. 
    We can piss and moan about the 2015 rip-off from the refs all we'd like. I don't dispute that it legitimately looked like a rigged game, and the analytics certainly back it up. That said, one game shouldn't matter for a proud program like Texas. We're at a point now where other people can credibly make an argument that the fucking Okie Staters have lately owned the Texas Longhorns, and that we're paying them rent every month for using DKR, since they own that too. They didn't even need T Boone Fucking Pickens to buy it. 
    While this debacle has been unfolding for Texas, Oklahoma State has been flexing as nothing more than above average at a national level. They had an outstanding 2011 season, but have generally otherwise existed to validate OU when OU needs a whipping boy late in the season in order to beef up their playoff resume. 
    So is Texas back? To me, no outcome this season matters more to validating Sam Ehlinger's Sugar Bowl claim than the game this weekend. Beat Oklahoma State the way you should, and make all the claims you want. Lose to the okies, a-fucking-gain, and no one but the most nauseating apologists can claim that Texas is anything but a continued enigma, or worse. 
    So what are we facing, really? 
    Oklahoma State has faced 3 teams this season:
    -Oregon State - 1-2 - Losers to both OSU and Hawaii, Oregon State just rolled an FCS nobody in Cal Poly. Once you account for fending off Stefen Djordjevic, Cal Poly has nothing for any opponent. Oregon State is hot buttered trash and they'll wind up 2-10 this season.
    -McNeese State - 2-1 - Winners against the mighty Southern Jaguars and Alcorn State Braves, McNeese State hasn't had this much fun beating the shit out of black people since forced desegregation hit Louisiana in the 1980's. This is another program that shouldn't even be appearing on a P5 program's fucking schedule.
    -Tulsa - 1-2 - Tulsa beat San Jose State. They'll likely stumble into another couple of wins this seasons simply because the majority of their remaining opponents lack the funding for technology that would enable film review, and therefore an understanding of the rudimentary requirements necessary for shutting down the Air Veer offense, or whatever the fuck all of the Briles disciples are calling their O these days. 
    In short, Oklahoma State is the softest 3-0 in the country. They've played no one, and they've struggled to beat two of the three no-ones they've faced. 
    Gundy always put forth a strong offensive game plan, and this weekend will be no exception. Undoubtedly, he's going to do whatever he can to enable Wallace to get open in space. Todd Orlando and his DB coaches are fucking idiots when it comes to early season personnel choices, so of course Wallace will inevitably torch our defense for 200+ yards receiving and 3 TDs. This is a given. Nonetheless, the rest of the offense has questions. Chuba Hubbard is a solid TB. He's putting up Heisman numbers because he's played no one. Texas will sell out, as they should, to stop the running game and make OSU one dimensional. The OSU Oline has looked good, but they've been working against defenses that mattered only from the perspective that they had mass and took up space. No one has stepped up as a real receiving threat behind Wallace. There is no old school badass Okie State-esque TE threat to provide headaches. Spencer Sanders is an athletic QB but he's young and manageable as a defense. So while I expect OSU to put up some points, this isn't the OSU offense from seasons' past that Texas is facing, and Texas is OSU's first test of any sort. OSU shouldn't score more than 30 points this weekend and if they do, Orlando should be fired attempting to enter the locker room after the game.
    Defensively, and there's already a thread covering this for these guys, but Oklahoma State's defense is absolute shit. They forced 2 turnovers against McNeese State and have done nothing otherwise. They haven't been facing great OLs and great offenses, either. They have 6 sacks on the season, 3 of which came against Tulsa. Oklahoma State's front 7 is weak and should be exploited in the run game. The secondary is the strength of their defense, but it's not scary. It's basically just better than the garbage in front of it at DL and LB. In the past, OSU always seemed to have random 2nd-5th round picks sprinkled into their defense, and they lack that this season. This is a defense that should be exposed for big gains in both the running and passing game by Texas. Texas should be good for at least 40 in this game and I could see 50, easily. Anything less than that is a choke by the offensive staff.
    Special Teams-wise, OSU has put up pedestrian numbers so far. There's nothing interesting going on with OSU at punter, kicker, KR, or PR. It's just an overall mediocre set of numbers coming from this group through 3 games. 
    Ultimately, Texas owes Oklahoma State a fucking beatdown. This would be a good time to deliver one. OSU is a paper tiger coming in, and they're not going to be a great team this year. It would be good to set a tone heading into the Big 12 schedule that says that Texas is Back, baby!, but honestly, given the dominance OSU has shown over Texas during this past decade, give me a fucking win. There's no excuse for that not to happen. Stop the embarrassment. Take back DKR. 

    My post from last week about La Tech was generally well-received, so I wanted to do a post about LSU.  Plus, inviting the mouthbreathing Tiger fans squatting on our boards to read 2,000 words might occupy them from now until game time.
    As with last time, my analysis is flawed and underresearched.  I watched a single LSU game—LSU vs. Georgia Southern’s matchup from last week, and I turned it off when LSU took their starters out.  Here were my takeaways:
    What to expect from LSU’s offense?
    Much ink has been spilled about LSU’s offseason offensive “turnaround” and hiring of a glorified grad assistant from LSU.  I’m not going to rehash their staff, scheme, or those details.  Instead, I’ll get right to the personnel.
    I will say that one thing that was apparent from watching the film was how much more tempo LSU ran their offense with this year.  There was no huddling and an apparent emphasis on moving very quickly offensively.
    Everyone knows LSU’s QB is Joe Burrow.  But what is he?  Is he a poor, Cajun (tautological?) man’s version of Sam Ehlinger?  Is he the dregs of Ohio State’s necrosis under Urban Meyer?  Is he a dark horse for the Heisman and possibly the best QB in the SEC?  These questions and more…
    What did I see last week?  Frankly, Burrow is extremely accurate in the short passing game.  He showed nice accuracy a few times on the Power/Slant RPO that LSU ran several times

    He hit a really nice backshoulder throw on a switch route to take LSU up 21-0:

    Burrow has a strong preference for waiting for plays to develop deep, then hitting wide open check down reads, if he’s given time and space to do so.

    Seriously, if Orlando decides to bring pressure, our D better get to the QB quickly, because Burrow is more than happy to pick up 5 or 6 yards on check downs.

    Burrow’s arm strength is a question mark.  He does not have a cannon and his deep throws flutter and fail on him.  There were times against GSU that Burrow had a receiver wide open downfield, but his passes took so long to get to his target that defenders were able to catch up to the receiver to break up the pass

    If he does not have an open receiver, he’s not great at deciding to throw the ball away or try to pick up a few yards on the ground.  He will try to force balls into tight windows, if he doesn’t have a wide open checkdown he can find:

    Running Backs:
    LSU’s starter snaps against GSU went to Clyde Edwards-Helaire (22) and Lanard Fournette (27).
    Edwards has some wiggle to him, great burst, and decisive cuts.  But he’s not a big tackle breaker or anything otherworldly:

    Fournette appears to be LSU’s version of Kyle Porter:

    Let’s hope he gets starter carries again this week.
    As mentioned above, Burrow really leaned on the RBs in the checkdown passing game—much more so than in the running game which (as discussed below) wasn’t great against GSU.  They also ran several RB screens.  Here's one to Lanard Fournette:

    Seriously, doesn’t he just look and run and get tackled like Kyle Porter?
    Here's some more screenage:

    Offensive Line:
    Surprisingly, given everything I’d heard about LSU’s O-line’s strengths and weaknesses, LSU’s OL actually kept a cleaner pocket in pass pro than they did a good job opening up running lanes.
    LSU struggled running the ball all night.

    But Burrow had plenty of time to throw.

    With that said, if LSU’s OL has one big weakness, it’s the immobility of their offensive tackles

    Same play from All-22:

    Potential for Texas’s Defense:
    This is the play I just showed above, but I want to do a deeper dive into it, because it’s one thing Orlando’s D did a very nice job of against La Tech:

    Note that the play above is very similar to plays where our D had two picks last week (one was the pick 6 by Ossai that was called back; the other was Overshown’s diving interception late in the game).  If Burrow isn’t careful with this throw this weekend, it could be a big momentum swing for Texas.  Notice that here, the overhang defender drops straight back up the seam—covering grass—even though there’s no receiver in the vicinity.
    Compare that to how Ossai makes a similar drop:

    Compare J’Mar Smith’s “look off” of that route with Burrow’s.  They’re almost identical.  J’Mar focuses on the curl route developing in the middle of the field, thinking he’s frozen the safety.  It’s not clear whether he even sees Ossai.  Then he rifles the ball to the curl route at the sticks, but Ossai breaks on the ball as soon as it’s thrown.
    In the Burrow version of the play, there’s even less deception, because the side of the field where the ball is thrown has only a single route being run.  Although Burrow “looks off” the safeties to that side of the field, there’s really no work he’s doing there, because there are no other routes that should have occupied them.
    And here’s Overshown’s even better drop:

    Note how fixated La Tech’s QB is on the overhang defender rushing from the edge.  He sees him come upfield and thinks he must have a wide open window to hit the flat route.  But Overshown beats the flat route to the spot of the ball.
    What to Expect from LSU’s Defense:
    You’ve heard a lot about LSU’s defense this week.  Most of it is true.  Their LBs and secondary are really fucking fast and they hit really fucking hard.
    Defensive Backs:
    I’ll start with Safety, because Grant Delpit is the real deal.  Watch him run this play down (he’s standing right next to the official, about 9 yards off the ball and shaded over the strongside guard):

    (That probably should’ve been a late hit, but still)

    I mean, fuck.
    The other safety is Ja’Coby Stevens who I would’ve talked about more if Grant Delpit weren’t on the team:

    LSU’s secondary philosophy (at least against GSU) was to stop the run at all costs, play lock-down D with the corners and have the safeties keep everything in front of them and not miss tackles.  Sound familiar?
    LSU starts true freshman Derek Stingley, who also had punt/kick return duties for them.  He held up fine against Georgia Southern’s wholly inept attack, but how will he do manned up on Collin Johnson? 
    LSU’s DL does such a good job of occupying blockers that LSU’s LBs often get a free run into the hole.  Look at how early the WLB (Damone Clark, 35) gets to the hole. 

    But he stops his feet and catches the RB in the hole, rather than running through the hole and causing a TFL.
    Defensive Line:
    Rashard Lawrence is a stud.  We better hope Parker Braun is ready to pass protect at a high level, so this doesn’t happen:

    Glen Logan is the other DE in the 3-4 front.  He missed some tackles against GSU:

    The nose tackle is Shelvin Tyler and is number 72.  He looks like the kind of defensive lineman who should be wearing number 72, too:

    Chaisson is the rush LB (think Ossai’s role).  He gets talked about a lot, especially on here, given his recruiting history.  He’s   Still, we should definitely block him:

    The DL is very large, though, and susceptible to draws/screens.  Although when we run a draw, we have to hope our running back does not become a Dead, like this GSU player (Chaisson on the hit):

    Unsurprisingly, LSU’s defense is really stout.  It’s secondary, especially, can really fly around and make plays.  Our coaches need to make sure Sam doesn’t take a clean shot from Delpit or Chaisson (who will both, by the way, definitely make dirty hits:
    Already pointed out the Delpit late hit above, but here it is again:

    And check out the crown of Chaisson’s helmet here:

    Aranda’s defense looks A LOT like Texas’.  That shouldn’t surprise anyone.  But where Texas’ D-line is built to be a super quick, attacking and stunting line, LSU’s is designed to hold up against the Big run-centric OL of the SEC.  Can Texas take advantage of that by getting the lines moving laterally to wear out or negate LSU’s strengths?  And even if they can, how does Texas neutralize LSU’s speed at safety?
    I think back to the ways Gundy and Holgorsen attacked Orlando’s offense last year (lots of outside zone; lots of RPO routes premised on making safeties choose between run and pass responsibilities; and forcing one-on-one mismatches in the passing game through formation choices).  Will Herman force LSU to pick their poison the same way?  Do we have enough RB talent to spam LSU with the outside zone that oSu and WVU hammered Texas with?  Can Texas keep the pocket clean long enough for Sam to let LSU’s defense overpursue and find the open man?
    Those are all of the questions for Texas’ O against LSU’s D.  But flipping the script:  how the fuck is LSU going to score points on Texas?  LSU’s O is a horrible mismatch for what Orlando does with his defense, and the number of times they were forced to throw the ball against GSU may indicate some systemic problems with the run game install this year.  LSU’s attempt to “revolutionize” their offense by installing decade-old RPOs that have already been schemed over by DCs should terrify no one.
    I am so fucking excited for this game.
    Texas 28 – LSU 13.

    One of the great things about being a Texas fan is that the football team plays at least 10 P5 teams each year. I heard some SEC honk on XM 84 mention recently that Georgia is really showing the world who’s the balls by playing an amazing 10 P5 games this year.
    “Wow. I’m sexually aroused, Commander.”
    You know who else plays 10 P5 games this year? Every fucking Pac 12, Big 10, and Big 12 team in existence, you myopic fuck. These fucking clowns have gone so deep into their own fart-huffing that they forgot that the sport is actually played beyond the range of their backwater region.
    Anyway, part of what’s great about how Texas plays its 10 P5 games is that the 10th game is damned near always against a worthy opponent with a well-known brand. This year is no different, as the horns don their gear this Saturday to face a powerful foe in the LSU Tigers. It should be a great match-up and fun Saturday night. And by that, I mean I expect Texas to stomp a deep and dirty mudhole painfully into the ass of these Cajun hillbillies and send them packing back to the swampy nether regions faster than you can spot corruption in their state government.
    “But closetojumping, LSU’s student athletes are among the elite in college sports!”
    First of all, let’s be clear about something, I don’t think LSU is even an accredited university. The trolls showing up to this site, and anyone who’s ever read TigerDroppings can also attest, simply reflect the concept that LSU isn’t an actual school, therefore these are not “Student” Athletes that UT is playing. Look at the facts:
    -LSU has an application acceptance rate of 74%. The literacy rate for the state of Louisiana most recently posted at 69% according to the Department of Education. Basic math says this is an open-enrollment school creating vocational opportunities for the literate and semi-literate in its home state. They’re effectively taking anyone from Louisiana that can sign their name on the application.
    -The admission standards and average SAT scores accepted into LSU are lower than the NCAA eligibility requirements for true freshmen student athletes entering into its FBS schools. A state of Texas GED is an acceptable posting of the documents required for acceptance into LSU.
    Given this data, it’s reasonable to assess that LSU’s football team is in effect a local team of mercenaries that do not face the same academic and educational responsibilities that any of their opponents besides Ole Miss, Auburn, and Mississippi State will face. So they’re not to be called student-athletes, and they’re able to show up competing with that advantage against Texas. I still like where we sit against them and their fans, both in this game and in life.
    “closetojumping, you seem awfully bullish about Texas facing a team with a new offensive juggernaut of an offense that dismantled a mighty 10 win team last weekend.”
    I keep hearing a couple of refrains from LSU visitors, the media talking heads, and the coelenterates cloaked in UT gear that surface themselves on the boards and at the proverbial water cooler. The mighty new offense is one of the bigger talking points as to why Texas shouldn’t even bother showing up this weekend.
    So LSU hired a guy that’s never actually been a coordinator of any sort and shoved him into the pedestrian Ensminger’s thinking, and asked those two to have a football baby. And we’re supposed to be concerned, especially after watching LSU publicly buttfuck the wizards of GA Southern. “Hey, GAS won 10 games last year, they’re strong.” Right. Their best win last year was against Appalachian State. They were blown out by ULM. So, no, pummeling a shithole team from the Sun Belt doesn’t do anything for me. I realize, given LSU’s troubles with the Sun Belt, this is a step up, like going from using an outhouse to having indoor plumbing.
    A wise philosopher once said that everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face. Installing a new offense with a nonbelieving head coach that panics when he sees his offenses actively using motion faces more peril than what a cupcake can present. When Texas sends LSU back to the sidelines after a couple of 3 and outs, let’s see how much resolve Brady and Ensminger have when Baron von Edward Beauregard Orgeron is heaving red bull and dirty rice flavored, spittle-loaded invective in their direction and regressing the offense back to 3 yards and a cloud of dust. Orgeron’s loomed like a gargoyle over the offensive strategy of his staff in every season of every stop he’s made as a head coach. It’s difficult to fathom that he’s shaken that monkey in one offseason because an analyst from the Saints was hired.
    The oldest running joke in college football is that LSU has opened up its offense. That punchline will be toasted again in the late hours of Saturday night.
    “CTJ, these LSU boys got that swagger though!!! They Sposed to be SEC!!!”
    A team hasn’t talked this much shit about an opponent since Miami prepared to face Penn State in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. The media has certainly bathed LSU in Sazerac-flavored glory as the LSU idiots have fed them sound byte after sound byte.
    K’Lavon Chaisson and his 3 career sacks has pulled up in his shit smelling clown car and spouted off at the mouth to anyone who will listen. This guy must still be pissed that Tom Herman took up residence in his home for 8 hours and subjected him to bingewatching Friends.
    One of the linebackers has announced that they’re going to run over Sam Cosmi in 10 different ways. I can’t remember which one said it, and while my understanding is that their LB corps is apparently on par with 70’s Steelers, I don’t see a single fucking one that can sniff Devin White’s jock, and he’s long gone.
    Their entire DB unit has collectively rubbed its sandy vagina and moaned that Texas, a program that has put more than 60 DBs into the league, has the temerity to continue to claim a moniker that UT’s been using for 3 decades. The LSU DBs are hurt because history apparently started with Patrick Peterson and the fucking Honey Badger. Right. Sorry, LSU, we forgot you were there.
    All of the shit talking and chest beating is the same false bravado we witnessed in our last 2 endeavors against overrated SEC teams. They’re fucking great because they say they are. It’s got all the markings of a situation in which a team shows up, throws their helmets out on the field, and says “okay, we’re here, give us the W”. As Texas fans, we know it all too well, having seen that bullshit start with overhype at the turn of the decade and the UT teams of that period playing right into it.
    Herman lives for this kind of game and situation, and his team feeds off of it as well. Underdogs at home? Getting shittalked by clowns who’ve never shared the field with Texas? Big national audience? All those boxes are checked and the history of those circumstances tells us that Texas will be ready.
    Beyond the mental prep, or lack thereof, depending upon the side, there’s also a really simple exercise to think through here. If you had one game to win against a highly touted and talented opponent, which head coach would you want prepping the strategy for your team and hatching the gameplan – Tom Herman or Sir Edgar Beaujolais Orgeron, Esq.? Only LSU fans are dumb enough to claim they’d choose the latter.
    “OH NO closetojumping, you’ve doomed us to our fate!!”
    I mudhole posted about USC last year, if it makes you feel any better. Stop squatting to pee. Texas wins this game with a score closer than the way the game was actually played on the field – 31-24. I expect misdirection, tempo, and a steady diet of fat ass LSU defenders sucking wind. The Texas defense will sell out to stop the run and force Jesus Joe Burrow to swagger the passing game to a big night while the beached whales masquerading as offensive linemen attempt to fend off multiple blitzes in front of him.
    I look forward to seeing many hot and trashy Cajun females bawling after the game, barely speaking audible English, lamenting the beating their team just took. LSU players, apparently, will be looking forward to heading back to the lockerroom so they can continue to compare notes on how they’re going to rape each other, or whatever the fuck this is:
    Anyway, Hook'em

    What's up, assholes? Welcome to the 2019 Football Season Game Prediction Contest. I did this a long time ago on HornFans, then for the first time on shaggy in 2014, and now we are here at surly. Thanks to blacklab we are now (again) moving the prediction contest into the automated age.
    Do not put your entry in this thread.
    Click on the link below to enter your prediction:
    2014 winner - laga4
    2015 winner - EZ$
    2016 winner - knoxtnhorn
    2017 winner - EZ$
    2018 winner - mdmost
    1. An exactly correct prediction gets 200 points. 2 points are deducted for every point you miss the margin by and 1 point is deducted for every point you miss the total by. 25 points are deducted for not predicting the correct winner (pick a tie and you're automatically docked 25 points). Minimum score is zero. So go ahead and make smartass predictions, no sweat off my back.
    Example: You guess Texas 31, Louisiana Tech 13. Final score is Texas 41, Louisiana Tech 7. Your score is 200-2*(34-18)-(48-44)=164.
    2. Entries close at 5 minutes before listed gametime on the TexasSports.com team schedule page.
    3. All your scores are added up for the season long contest.
    4. Tiebreaker for each game is order of entry. The prediction post that is first in the thread among the tied entries wins the tiebreaker.
    5. Tiebreaker for season long contest is placement for the final game of the season prediction. Doesn't matter if it's a bowl game, a national semifinal, a national championship game, or the Texas Tech game if we don't make a bowl. Whatever the final game played is, that's the tiebreaker.
    That's it. Keep in mind that the tiebreaker and other rules are from last year and they may be tweaked based on the needs for blacklab's coding. Any other necessary rules or rule changes will be made up on the fly. Good luck. Overall season winner gets jack shit from me, but...
    6. Optional Prize Money - Posters may choose to pay the $25 entry fee but are not required to do so. Each week the top-ranked poster of those who are in the prize pool will receive $25. At the end of the season the top three overall finishers will receive 50%, 30%, and 20% respectively of the remaining pool.
    To enter the paid version paypal $25 to bob at tanmutt.com.
    Once you've done that send blacklab a PM so he can mark you as paid in the software.
    Please put your surly username in the note at PayPal, probably best to mention the prediction contest as well.

    Burt Macklin
    Ian Boyd actually wrote a really good article the bot posted on the fall camp thread, and I started to write a response and then realized it got way too long, so I decided to make a thread to discuss. 

    A lot of people on here and elsewhere have been asking about Texas' run D this year, and it seems like many are worried we'll drop off in that area in 2019.  A lot of national pundits have lazily thrown out the stat that we lost 8 starters and 70+  percent of "production," however much of that "production" represented weaknesses in our defense that good offensive coaches could easily exploit. 
    Overall, we were actually pretty good against the run last year, finishing 33rd in the country in adjusted line yards per Football Outsiders (https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/ncaadl/2018).  However, Orlando's defenses are generally elite against the run and 2019 was a big drop off from Orlando's previous two years, where he finished 2nd and 17th.  More than anything, the dropoff was personnel related.
    I'm going to focus on the reasons why that drop off occurred and highlight how this year's team can use the Dime package, to get lighter, faster, better in coverage, and most importantly, improve against the run.  
    Below is a picture of our Dime package with Overshown (and possibly Brown) at Joker and Foster at Nickel.  In this scenario, Ossai will be the Rover, though he and Overshown could switch positional alignment and responsibilities pretty seamlessly. 

    With Foster at Nickel and Overshown or Ossai on the other edge, you're basically using a 3-4 even though you're in dime.  Foster would probably be considered the best 3-4 OLB in the conference, besides Ossai, if he actually played that position.  He was unbelievable in the run game and blitzing last year. I remember one play against OU where he got under their LT, who was drafted in the third round, and just drove him back like he was on skates even though Foster was giving up 100 lbs in that matchup.  I think Overshown will be similar, even if not quite as good.    Ossai showed really impressive off-ball LB ability in the spring game, and his performance against UGA makes me think he's just a flat-out great football player. I think he'd be fine with run fits at Rover.  Combine that with the ability to have Ossai and Overshown essentially switch between Rover and Joker without tipping it off pre-snap, and Orlando has a counter for someone like Gundy who may try to isolate Ossai in coverage over and over.
    If you have to take one of Ossai or Overshown off for Dele, then I think the defense gets quite a bit worse against many opponents. Dele might be one of our best 11 against LSU if they revert back to the power scheme they ran last year, but against most Big 12 opponents, he'll never get a chance to play the run inside the box because guys like Gundy will spend the whole game picking on him like they did to Wheeler last year.  Regardless, Dele coming along this fall has been a big (and hopefully true) development.  He gives us added versatility against teams that decide to line up in extremely heavy fronts to counter our Dime package and I think he would likely still be an upgrade over Wheeler, even if he probably can't hold up for a whole game against most Big 12 opponents.
    The 4 biggest weak spots in our defense last year were Hager, Wheeler, and the Nickel (usually Locke, but Josh Thompson played there some too and absolutely killed us).  Our NT spot with Nelson and Wilbon was generally good against the run, especially when teams like Georgia and USC tried to attack us more traditionally, but when the spread gurus of the Big 12, like Gundy and Holgo, played us they became a liability.  Utilizing the Dime package will allow us to strengthen all four of those spots and make it much harder for offenses to identify weaknesses and exploit them endlessly in the run game.
    The switch from Hager to Graham will be huge. Both Graham and Roach have a ton left to show on the field before they live up to the hype they've been getting this offseason, but the two of them will be  better against the run combined than Omenihu and Hager were last year.  Gundy ruthlessly picked on Hager and Bimage (as the play side DE) and Wheeler (as the weakside LB) last year and ran Outside Zone over and over. Hager and Bimage were too small to set a hard edge and that extra space meant that Wheeler couldn't make it to the ballcarrier as an unblocked weakside LB. We might as well have been playing 11 on 10. The other problem was that while people generally consider Nelson and Wilbon to be good against the run, their lack of athleticism really hurt the in Orlando's scheme at time last year. While neither would get moved off the ball much, Orlando's run D involves a lot of slanting and penetration.  Orlando prefers to counter a run heavy team by betting he can create enough negative plays to kill drives, even if that leads to some chunk runs by the opponent. Wilbon and Nelson's lack of quickness meant they couldn't slant into gaps that someone like Poona, or hopefully Coburn/Ojomo, can this year. 
    As an example, below is a play where OSU ran outside zone successfully against us that highlights many of our personnel deficiencies from last year. I could've found about twenty other plays to show, but wading through OSU film to find a good example was making me want to punch a hole in my screen. 
    On this play, Wheeler was actually the strongside LB, but his poor play still shows why our 2019 D has so much room for improvement.  Wheeler, as often happened, was way too slow to read the play and made the RG's job easier than winning a spelling bee against a room full of Sooners.  Now, watch Bimage run himself so far out of the play that he looked like he was sprinting to the sideline for a sub.  Not every play had Bimage and Hager looking that bad, but they were generally getting driven way out of the play and failing entirely to set an edge. Wilbon does ok on this play, but there were many others where he and Nelson were too slow to get play side and allowed a clean running lane.  Look at 27:54 for an example of this.  Finally, watch how Locke plays patty cake with the 190 lb slot receiver and then try to guess a side to jump, instead of stacking and shedding his man, so he could make the play.  
    If you compare this to our personnel in 2019,  either Ossai or Overshown should be better at speeding over from the backside than Wheeler in 2018 and will likely also be better at diagnosing the run plays earlier than Wheeler did.  Graham should hold the edge better than Hager did last year and Coburn/Ojomo should be more effective slanting on run plays than Nelson/Wilbon were. I expect Foster will be a pretty huge improvement in the run game, and I think he'll be an improvement in coverage from the Nickel as well. He just has a better sense for the game than either Locke or Thompson did last year.  
    There's no doubt that CB is more of a question mark than last year, and McCulloch could struggle in his first year at ILB, however, even if a few of our new starters struggle, we likely improve at more positions than we downgrade, and the defense overall should have less obvious weaknesses for good offensive coordinators to attack. 

    I’ve read a lot of people providing high-level thoughts that La Tech is “worse than Maryland” and that the game should be an easy one.  But I haven’t seen any actual write-up analysis of the game.  So I bit the bullet last night and watched La Tech/LSU from last season.  Below are my thoughts, with GIFs of some representative plays from that game.
    Note:  to the extent occurrences in the La Tech/LSU game were outliers, it is the only game of La Tech’s that I watched from last year.  So I am wholly basing my opinions on that totally inadequate sample size.
    With that said, let’s get to it.
    What to expect from La Tech’s offense?
    Offensive Coordinator and Scheme:
    La Tech’s OC is Todd Fitch.  Fitch has been with Skip Holtz since 2007 at ECU almost continually, although he had a three-year stopover in Boston College from 2012-2015 before reuniting with Holtz at La Tech in 2016.
    Fitch was passing game coordinator at Iowa State in 2004 under Dan McCarney, where he coached true freshman Bret Meyer to 7 wins, including a victory over Nebraska.  Prior to that, he was an assistant under OC Skip Holtz at South Carolina when Lou Holtz was head coach.
    Offensively, Orlando’s dime will get a LOT of run this game.  La Tech runs 4 wide almost every play.  They sometimes bring in an insert-back, but almost never have a true TE in on a play.  They’d prefer to motion a big WR into the box to help block than to substitute in a TE. 
    La Tech runs no huddle, but their tempo is not anywhere near what most of the teams in the Big XII run.  They are not an air raid team.  They are more of a traditional spread team.  They will attack with bubble screens, WR screens, RB screens, inside zone and traditional spread passing concepts.
    This will be a good tune up for what we’re going to see out of Neal Brown’s West Virginia on October 5.
    Offensive Position Players:
    The first thing that jumps off the page when looking at La Tech is their experience.  Across the offense, every single one of their starters is in their third, fourth, or fifth years.  Their QB is a RS Sr., and their line goes RS Sr., RS Sr., RS Jr., RS Sr., RS Sr.
    Texas will not be able to count on La Tech to “lose” the game.  La Tech does not blow assignments or commit dumb penalties.  They are assignment sound—they just aren’t extremely talented.
    La Tech returns its starter, J’mar Smith (8), from last year.  He is very good at throwing La Tech’s timing routes, and they throw a LOT of them. 

    Like the original spread offenses of the late 90s/early 2000s, La Tech relies on its timing route passing game to generate yards.  It does not, generally, try for chunk yardage.  La Tech is content to bite off bite-sized yardage through inside zone and screens to work its way down the field.
    Smith is also decent at throwing intermediate routes to the middle of the field

    He will buy time with his feet, but he is not a scrambler and generally does not even look to run. 

    Smith struggles pushing the ball downfield with any accuracy.  Here's an example:

    And another example:

    Smith struggles even more when he has to throw while on the run. 

    Running Backs:
    La Tech has two main backs—Dancy (23) and Tucker (22)—who are virtually identical.  They are shortish scat backs like we see a lot of in the Big XII.  Both are good at running inside zone. 
    Here's an example:

    Here's another example:

    Both are also used a lot in the passing game and are effective there.

    Wide Receivers:
    La Tech’s wide receivers are a mixed bag.  There are times where they make fantastic plays, and there are times where they cannot even catch the ball. 

    Their best WR last year was Hardy (who wore 6 last year but apparently is wearing 89 this year?).  He is very good and will be a good test for Jalen Green.

    Notice here that they use WR bubble motion to bring the safety up while their X and Z run right past their defenders.
    Their only other returning receiver is Alfred (4), who shows up on tape as doing a good job of getting open, although he struggles with catching the ball in traffic.

    Defensive outlook against La Tech’s Offense:
    Don’t expect Texas’ defense to have a field day on Saturday.  In fact, don’t count on them to be able to reliably pressure the QB at all.  Almost everything La Tech does is predicated on timing routes and WR screens.  The key is to focus on fundamental football and limit those plays to minimal yardage.  La Tech will bail you out by having a WR drop the ball, and they’ll punt and get off the field. 
    If Orlando gets frustrated and starts bringing the house, it could open up big plays for La Tech.  Aranda got very aggressive at times against La Tech and pinned his D’s ears back.  But La Tech did a nice job of always responding with a timely RB screen for chunk yardage. 

    With that said, La Tech WILL turn the ball over—especially after completing a short pass play when their WRs try to do too much. 

    Orlando’s unit has to be ready to capitalize on those opportunities.
    What to expect from La Tech’s defense?
    Defensive Coordinator and Scheme
    This is a harder breakdown, because La Tech swapped DCs last year.  Their new DC is Bob Diaco, who you’ll last remember as a defensive analyst for OU last year when we played them in the cotton bowl and OU’s LB coach when we played them in the Big XII Championship (Diaco was promoted after Stoops was fired).  Diaco was fired from OU at the end of the season.
    Most importantly, you’ll remember Diaco as the coach who invented the fake rivalry between UConn and UCF called the “Civil Conflict,” which UCF refused to recognize (including leaving the “rivalry trophy” on the field after winning the game.
    Historically, Diaco runs an odd front defense.  Ideally, his nose guard will line up in a zero technique and two gap the center, and his ends will two gap the tackles.  We’ll see if Diaco has the personnel to do that against Texas.
    However, La Tech’s current online roster presents as if Diaco will be running a 4-2-5 nickel defense (listing two DEs, two DTs, and two LBs).
    Defensive Position Players:
    La Tech’s defense will be experienced.  Like their offense, the defense will feature starters who are all in or past their third year.
    Defensive Line:
    La Tech’s defensive line last year was boom or bust.  But when they boomed, they were very booming.  That line loses its two players (45—Ferguson and 99—Garner).  Ferguson was a second day pick at the NFL draft.  Both were replaced by upperclassmen. 
    It’s tough to figure out what they’ll be this year against the run, given those two losses and the possibility of moving to an odd front.  But last year, La Tech’s DL held up well even against a big OL in LSU.

    LSU was intent to run on La Tech, but La Tech held their own against LSU’s rushing attack.
    When they faced obvious passing situations last year, the DL’s pass rush was good.

    Again, assuming last year is an indication, expect this year’s LBs to be good in run fits. 

    This is especially true when La Tech’s safeties assist with run responsibilities. 

    Their strong safety, Jackson (10), jumps out on film.  He plays the run like Brandon Jones. 

    Defensive Backs:
    Their run defense is solid.  But the DBs last year did a poor job of holding up in coverage for any length of time.
    The DBs often lost receivers in space.  In fact, La Tech was way better at covering grass than it was at covering wide receviers.
    DBs lose receivers in space.  Way better at covering grass than covering people.  Here's an example:

    Here's another example:

    This is a great tune up game against a team that will have inferior talent but will not simply give the game away.  Texas will have to come prepared, because La Tech is too experience to just roll over and give up.
    La Tech played LSU close last year in Baton Rouge (La Tech was within three points in the fourth quarter, battling back from being down 14 early in the game).
    If Texas plays sound assignment football, they should be able to handle La Tech.  The -20.5 point spread seems pretty generous to me, but I’d obviously be thrilled for Texas to cover that, because it would really bode well for the team this year.  But if Texas isn’t focused on the game and is looking ahead to LSU, this could be an uncomfortable night reminiscent of some squeakers from last season.  And if Texas’ defense is too focused on making a splash play, La Tech’s sound fundamentals could lead to some frustrating extended drives.

    It is no longer "way too early". Game week is here.
    Time to go 1-0.
    H/T to @Bevo for digging this up.
    LA Tech football depth chart projections ahead of 2019 opener at Texas
    RUSTON — Game week is upon Louisiana Tech, which’ll begin preparations for its season opener versus No. 10 Texas Saturday morning after the team conducts a closed scrimmage Friday.
    The next media availability for Tech head coach Skip Holtz and a few players will be Tuesday for the first weekly press conference of the year and the first official depth chart will be provided.
    With the kickoff to the 2019 season right around seven days away, here are projections on what the Bulldogs’ two-deep at each position could look like:
    QB: J’Mar Smith, redshirt senior; Westin Elliott, redshirt junior; Aaron Allen, redshirt freshman
    Smith enters his third season as Louisiana Tech’s starter and with offensive coordinator Todd Fitch taking over as his position coach, more is to be expected from the quarterback who already has 27 career starts and has thrown for 6,546 yards, 33 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
    RB: Israel Tucker, redshirt junior; Justin Henderson, redshirt junior AND Jaqwis Dancy, redshirt senior
    Tucker, who started five games a year ago, is primed to take the first snap against Texas. But expect to see plenty of Henderson and Dancy, when healthy, this season as the position will be a by-committee approach.
    X-receiver: Adrian Hardy, redshirt junior; Praise Okorie, redshirt sophomore AND Malik Stanley redshirt senior
    Hardy looks to follow up his breakout 2018 season, where he caught a team-high 75 passes for a career high 1,145 yards and six touchdowns.
    H-receiver: Cee Jay Powell, redshirt junior; Davon “Smoke” Harris, redshirt freshman
    Powell appears set to take over Teddy Veal’s former spot in the receiving corps and get his first amount of significant playing time in his career. In two seasons, the 5-7, 163-pound slot receiver has 22 catches for 138 yards.
    A-receiver: Griffin Hebert, redshirt sophomore; Joshua Matthews, redshirt sophomore
    Hebert put in impressive work on his body over the offseason, filling out with more muscle and he’s followed that up with a solid fall camp.
    Z-receiver: Isaiah Graham, redshirt junior; George Scott III, junior
    Graham, a TCU transfer, has had one of most impressive camps of any players on Tech’s roster and looks primed to be a major difference maker in the passing game.
    Y-receiver: Bobby Holly, redshirt senior; Jacob Adams, redshirt sophomore
    Whenever Louisiana Tech projects to start with an offensive formation that’ll include the Y position, Holly will be there. The Farmerville native started three games last season and two of his four total receptions went for touchdowns.
    RT: Gewhite Stallworth, redshirt senior; Antawn Lewis, junior
    Stallworth has been taking the majority of the first-team snaps in practice, leading to believe he’ll get the start at Texas. The big, 6-8, 322-pound tackle has started three games in his career.
    RG: Ethan Reed, redshirt senior; Joshua Mote, redshirt sophomore Reed, an All-Conference USA honorable mention lineman last year, has started every game the last three seasons for the Bulldogs. Mote adds valuable depth at the position with four starts under his belt.
    Kody Russey, redshirt junior; Abraham Delfin, redshirt sophomore Russey returns to once again anchor Tech’s offensive line in the middle, starting 26 straight games.
    LG: Drew Kirkpatrick, redshirt senior; Carter Habich, sophomore
    After redshirting in 2017, Kirkpatrick emerged as the starting left guard as 2018 progressed, playing in 11 total games.
    LT: Willie Allen, redshirt junior; Biron Rossell, redshirt freshman
    Allen, an LSU transfer, seems to have tapped into the potential coaches saw in him when they recruited him two years ago out of Tyler (Texas) Community College. If he gets the nod next weekend, his first FBS collegiate start will come against Texas.
    DE: Ka’Derrion Mason, senior; La’Dante Davenport, redshirt senior
    Mason earned two starts a season ago and had six his sophomore campaign. For his career, the 6-4, 291-pound end has 40 tackles with one sack.
    NG: Courtney Wallace, redshirt senior; D.J. Jackson, redshirt freshman OR Keivie Rose, freshman
    Wallace looks to get his first start of his Tech career against Texas. He’s played in 22 games and has 13 tackles, including three tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks.
    DE: Milton Williams, redshirt sophomore; Steven Shaw, redshirt freshman
    Williams (6-4, 262) has garnered a lot of praise from coaches since the spring and he’s parlayed his solid play into an expected starting role on the defensive line. He saw action in seven games last season.
    OLB: Willie Baker, redshirt junior; Tristan Allen, redshirt sophomore
    Baker switched positions from end to outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Bob Diaco’s 3-4 scheme. His pass rush skill set will still be utilized, highlighted by four sacks coming in the Hawaii Bowl last year, but he’ll handle come coverage duties as well.
    MLB: Connor Taylor, senior; Randy Hogan, redshirt senior OR Trey Baldwin, redshirt junior
    The former JUCO National Defensive Player of the Year looks to be more effective this season for the Bulldogs. Taylor ended 2018 with 30 stops.
    MLB: Collin Scott, redshirt senior; Alex Zayed, redshirt junior
    Scott led the team in tackles last season with 87. The senior linebacker is poised to have another solid season along with handling the defensive calls.
    S: James Jackson, redshirt senior; Ezekiel Barnett, redshirt junior
    Jackson started every game a season ago, finishing second on the team in tackles with 74, including 8.5 TFLs and had one interception.
    S: Darryl Lewis, redshirt senior; Bee Jay Williamson, redshirt freshman
    Lewis has collected 130 career stops and six picks in 40 total appearances, including 26 straight starts. He’s one of the veteran leaders on backend of Tech’s defense.
    S: L’Jarius Sneed, senior; Jaiden Cole, redshirt sophomore
    In the spring, Sneed moved from cornerback to safety and it’s paid dividends for Louisiana Tech’s defense. His three interceptions last year was good enough for second-best on the defense to go along with his 59 total tackles.
    CB: Amik Robertson, junior; Zach Hannibal, redshirt junior
    Unquestionably the most notable star for the Bulldogs, Robertson enters his third season starting at corner. He paced Tech with four picks, has nine total in two seasons, and for his career, has 123 total stops.
    CB: Michael Sam, redshirt senior; Aaron Roberson, redshirt senior
    Sam has battled some injuries during his career, but Holtz called him the “most pleasant surprise” this spring after he moved from safety to corner. Sam has pieced together a great fall camp and looks to more talent to an already deep Bulldog secondary.
    PK: Bailey Hale, redshirt senior; Brady Farlow, redshirt junior
    Hale transferred to Tech from Eastern New Mexico before 2018 and ultimately earned the starting place kicking job. He had a 68 percent field goal rate in his first year, making 15-of-22 with a long of 46.
    P: Brady Farlow, redshirt junior; Jacob Barnes, freshman
    Behind Davan Dyer last season, Farlow punted five times for 179 yards for a 35.8-yard average.
    PR: Davon “Smoke” Harris, redshirt freshman OR Cee Jay Powell, redshirt junior
    The two combined for three punt returns in 2018.
    KR: Davon “Smoke” Harris, redshirt freshman OR Praise Okorie, redshirt sophomore OR Justin Henderson, redshirt junior
    Okorie and Harris piled up a combined 247 yards on 13 kickoff returns last year. Expect those two to be in the mix to field the opening kickoff for Louisiana Tech at Texas next weekend.

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