One of the things that was a bit of a revelation from the spring game in Frisco was how on certain passing situations, the entire defensive line and even the linebackers, would stand up along the line of scrimmage and also inserted in there was Zach Barnes, the rush linebacker, who is now headed over the center and just rushing. I wasn’t sure what to call this grouping and I’m sure that there is a technical name for it, but ran through various groups of animals and stumbled upon a group of horses, which is a harras.
We actually saw this a bit when Mike Smith was the interim defensive coordinator, a way to create some pressure. It’s really nothing revolutionary and it’s really not something that I really remember the defense doing at all last year. Maybe some of it was more or less of a trust issue or not feeling like he had the personnel. Regardless, David Gibbs used it pretty freely during the Frisco scrimmage.
That’s three “down” linemen all crowded around the line of scrimmage. Brayden Stringer is at the top of the hash mark and the other linebacker is standing at the 35 on the far edge of the line.
After the ball is snapped, you get three rushers and the thought here is to force the quarterback to make a quick decision. Or maybe a poor decision. Also note that the defensive backs are all playing man coverage.
A new play and it’s similar. The three down linemen are spread out a bit more. It’s a clear passing situation and the two linebackers are standing up just a bit. Notice the man coverage again and the two high safeties. The line is a bit hesitant, Lonzell Gilmore is looping back inside a bit.
With this play though, Jonathan Giles does a terrific job of sliding along that gaggle of defenders to get open in the flat and score a touchdown. The pressure was there and technically, I think they sacked Shimonek, but that’s the thing about man coverage, which is that if you miss a tackle, there’s no one there to clean up your mess, especially if the high safeties are coming downfield to make the tackle.
Texas Tech doesn’t have a dominant pass rusher and I think that’s the reason why Gibbs is going to this well. I’m fine with it. The pass rush was abysmal last year, ranking 125th in havoc rate (the havoc rate is a mixture of big defensive plays, sacks, interceptions, tackles for loss, etc.) and the defensive line was 119th overall. If you like traditional stats, Texas Tech was 118th in sacks last year and 125th in tackles for loss. Something has to give and I think Gibbs is making every effort to make *something* happen with the pass rush. The other part of it is probably that the defensive backs simply can’t cover for that long of a period of time. This sort of thing will most likely be susceptible to just running the ball and maybe Gibbs just pulls this out for obvious passing situations, but get ready for him to finally do something to create a pass rush that might make some plays. At least that’s the hope.