First of all, if the hog call hasn't become a highlight of your week you must be living either a richer or considerably duller life than my own. Blake's insight on the line and the proper procedure in executing running plays is fantastic and often leads me to even greater frustration with the coaching here. Were Blake to sit down and rewatch the Tech game I would be willing to listen to his thoughts on the scheme, execution and individual players for hours.
His point about the customary ineptitude of tight ends in the running game and suggestion for a sixth OL on the field was a great point and something Greg Davis should have/could still consider for the future in establishing the run. Missouri did this with some strong effect in our contest last year.
Let's say Texas is in a point in a game where they want to really emphasize the run and waste some clock, both of which will happen regularly, why not? For this purpose, Davis chose to steal Boise St.'s 2 TE/HB sets which flood the field with a position where Texas is not at all stocked with talent. Matthews is a potentially good TE if he develops as a part of the passing game, Greg Smith is barely serviceable.
Meanwhile Texas is loaded with young 280 pound tackles who will someday (potentially soon) be relied on as a heavy part of the offense. Why not add Paden Kelly, Mark Buchanan, or Trey Hopkins in for some running sets? One of them is already playing that position in the jumbo package. From there, Texas could even move Barrett to WR and be loaded with solid blockers, or simply have 3 legit receivers on the field to keep the defense honest while having a lethal edge blocker.
The Wildcat offense actually bases much of its success around playing the TE where the left Tackle lines up and moving the tackle to the outside of the right tackle. At first teams didn't even adjust their fronts and were just annihilated by the double tackle side, often comprising the team's best blockers, and adjustments have not slowed down the scheme. Just a thought.
Texas vs. Texas Tech:
Let's start with some keys to the game by Double T Nation, a Red Raider blog from SB Nation where our friends at Burntorangenation are based, about the Tech strategy which I suspect will lend you some confidence.
1). The Air Raid: It's not exactly the same offense, as others here have pointed out, and it's not the same offensive line either. In general, Tech has replaced the old 6-6 fat, former basketball players Leach would build in his labs with legitimately talented big men and put an end to the wide line splits which concealed their former mediocrity.
They also seem to have lost some of their skill in running the screens that were a big part of what made them so hard to stop. The skill positions and quarterbacks are better than many of the Leach squads but the overall cohesion and brilliance isn't there yet.
Unfortunately for them, Texas has never had better athletes for combating the wide open spread attacks of our time. One thing that has stood out to me from the Rice game and rewatching the Wyoming game was the improved physicality of the secondary starting with Blake Gideon. Even before his targeting penalty, and the subsequent form-perfect tackle which inspired him to taunt the officials, he was landing some big blows in the passing game.
He's still a step slow and doesn't have the same confidence tackling in the running game, and I'm not sure why, but he loves to light up guys in the screen game and over the middle. His time in teh scheme and weight room have doubtlessly been transforming him into a more confident player, if this translates to run support in the future Texas could have a Jordan Lake caliber player back there. Not exactly a crap your pants thought but an encouraging one nonetheless. Christian Scott is a strong tackler as well, while still putting it together in coverage, and we know what Vaccaro offers in this department. Aaron Williams and Chykie Brown are strong tacklers and Curtis will make an attempt, however unintimidating.
Combine a secondary with 3 NFL caliber coverage guys and 3 hard-hitting safeties with the anti-spread linebackers and plethora of awesome ends and you have a group better prepared for this challenge than any Mack has had.
As far as scheme, against Wyoming Muschamp unveiled a 2-4-5 defense that was both very confusing (for the Cowboys)and very versatile. Kheeston Randall and Sam Acho can line up as tackles with Jones, Jeffcoat and co. as stand-up ends backed by Emmanuel-Keenan and the nickel package. This could be useful for a zone-blitz, a 4-man rush or just a 3-man rush. Texas used some various stunts, sending Randall wide on the outside at times or just bull-rushing up the middle. I feel compelled to point out here that Muschamp was unafraid to test drive some of his new toys rather than bottling them up for Tech, a point Davis could learn from.
In addition to being numerous, Texas' pass-rushers are versatile in their rush-techniques since Acho, Randall and the linebackers can strike up the middle or outside.
2008 saw Muschamp attempt a dime package with 3 DL, Sergio Kindle as a rusher, and Muckelroy as the backer charged with cleaning up anything in the running game. Unfortunately those 5 couldn't handle Tech's running game early and (someone correct me if my memory is off) this necessitated a normal nickel package that was torched for over 400 passing yards.
If Muschamp tries another 3-2-6 for times in this game expect to see Vaccaro and AJ inside, Scott and Gideon in a 2-deep shell, Keenan/Emmanuel, and then Randall lined up over the center and flanked by Acho and Jones. I think his 2-4-5 he tested against Wyoming better reflects his thinking however, since he trusts his ends to float out and chase screens and hot routes and the 2-4-5 takes greater advantage of Texas' considerable talent at that position.
In the running game Tech has evidently tempered their zone with the more traditional shotgun staple, the draw. The zone Texas can destroy, the draw could be dangerous in punishing Texas for wild rushes and stunts. Given Tech's talent and strength on the inside of their line this is probably the greatest threat. I don't think an unbalanced Tech offense can keep them in the game.
2). From bend-don't-break to attack!:
Tech fans are excited about pairing their normal open offense with an aggressive defense that has seen some good success using Duncan as an edge rusher and is a mirror of the Saints defensive style which is to blitz, get turnovers, and lure you into throwing the ball around against occasionally vulnerable defensive backs and trying to shootout Drew Brees and Sean Payton.
In general I think that's a wise move by their staff but not in this instance. Muffin McNeil's pattern-reading Cover-2 was a perfect fit for stuffing Texas and successfully stymied Colt each of the last 2 seasons. On the other hand, leaving young corners on islands against Goodwin, Davis, Williams, and Garrett's arm is a recipe for quick death. I'm sure Tuberville will try and pressure with 4 and be selective about blitzes but you are basically counting on Gilbert not being ready to take up the mantle and make plays, which I wouldn't count on. Alabama asked him to beat them and he very nearly did, I'm guessing 8 months later with Mike Davis he could successfully storm Lubbock.
I would rather play it safe and see if Davis' vanilla scripting stalls out rather than bring lots of heat early and risk getting burned by a deep pass or the random-screening offense. Create early momentum with offense and special teams and don't rely on heavy early blitzing to do what Texas has been all too willing to do by themselves.
Physical running and drives that don't self destruct will be key in putting Texas in position to blow it all open and potentially not even ask Gilbert to save the day. Tech has struggled against the running game while Texas has been building some momentum in this department.
BurntinNY is back and has a nice breakdown of the Wyoming game where he praises David Snow for his play to this point. In the above Double-T-Nation article Whitlock expresses excitement about some of their blitzes and claims he'll always beat a center one-on-one. If Snow can handle Whitlock without assistance it's all over. Especially if the receivers block.
Otherwise, we may likely be waiting for some Gilbert magic to pull us through.
Check out dedfischer and RRR on the podcast with our Sailor Ripley and Scipio Tex. So...to your point...it's some of the best analysis you'll hear from the better Tech and Texas gurus on the interwebs.