Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Big 12 internal affairs: Reasons why Tech's run game is struggling
By David Ubben
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are some of the topics that people are talking about inside the Big 12 after the first two weeks of the season.
- Texas Tech’s running game has regressed this season, down from 119 yards per game last year to just 46 yards per game and 2.8 yards per carry after two games. The major reason for the decline has been the defensive philosophy of opponents North Dakota State and Rice. But another factor has been that Graham Harrell was comfortable with the running game and frequently checked into those plays at the line of scrimmage in the past. New quarterback Taylor Potts isn’t nearly as proficient at that part of the Red Raiders’ offense – yet.
- Kansas is intent on developing its secondary and that retooled unit helped key the Jayhawks’ victory against UTEP. Kansas coaches weren’t happy with sophomore Anthony Davis and moved nickelback Chris Harris into the starting lineup in his place. Phillip Strozier made his first start at safety and the Jayhawks responded by limiting the Miners to 204 passing yards -- their lowest production since early last season.
- Despite struggling with the Big 12’s worst kicking game after two games, Bill Snyder isn’t turning away from starting kicker Josh Cherry. Against Louisiana-Lafayette, the Wildcats missed two field-goal attempts, struggled with another and saw an extra point glance off the left upright. Snyder still is working to build Cherry's confidence and will have him in the lineup Saturday against UCLA.
- One concern coming out of the Texas game at Wyoming was the Longhorns’ early inability to protect Colt McCoy from various blitz packages. That pressure helped contribute to McCoy’s early struggles until Wyoming got tired and didn’t have the personnel to stick with the Longhorns into the second half. That won’t be the case when Oklahoma and maybe even Texas Tech play against Texas. It will be interesting to see if future Texas opponents saw anything in the game films at Laramie that could affect McCoy later his season.
- One interesting thing about Missouri’s play-calling when down last week against Bowling Green was how new offensive coordinator David Yost didn’t abandon his running game. Obviously having backs like Derrick Washington and Kendial Lawrence has to help that confidence. But it was noticeable that Yost isn’t afraid to stick with the run where former Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen believed in a pass-first, everything-else-later mentality in those times of desperation.
- Robert Griffin uncorked a 59-yard quick kick in Baylor’s first game and mentioned he is extremely comfortable in the role as a punter. Griffin said the kick was his first in game since his freshman season in high school -- when he served as his team’s kicker and punter.
- While he’s careful to say it’s not a quarterback battle, look for backup Jerome Tiller to get an early series for Iowa State when the Cyclones visit Kent State. Coach Paul Rhoads said it's nothing against Austen Arnaud, but he always believes in two quarterbacks getting early work in a game. The idea is to have both quarterbacks fresh and ready to contribute in case of an emergency, Rhoads said.