Our friend dedfischer at The Tortilla Retort has put up his analysis of the line matchups that will be crucial to Saturday's game.
This is the best Tech team we've seen on the OL & DL in the Mike Leach era. Historically, this is an area where we've bludgeoned them. We've also played three consecutive games against quality DL and OL opposition. It's quite debatable whether Tech has played any.
At this juncture of the season, I'd place Tech DE's McKinner Dixon and Brandon Williams among the top 4 DEs in the league. Williams is a West Texas version of Penn State's Aaron Maybin. He has a great first step. Dixon is probably a more complete football player than Williams and he's very physical. They've combined for 14 sacks this year and Ruffin McNeill counts on them for most of their pressure. Tech has never had a pair of DEs like this - at least in my lifetime. They're several levels above Beal/English or Sulak/Chavis. Hix and Ulatoski will need to bring their focusness.
I doubt Tech's DTs will be able to mount a pass rush on the interior. That's key as Colt has demonstrated a consistent ability to cope with pressure off of the edge. Colby Whitlock is very similar to Derek Lokey as a junior and plays with great leverage against the run. Very underrated. Richard Jones is an undersized DT who shouldn't pose any problems for us.
I think dedfischer does a great job of breaking down the matchups and though I might differ as to whether Orakpo will be neutralized by a bench press, I think he illustrates the challenges for both teams. The importance of the matchup between WWF fanboy Brandon Carter and Lamarr Houston can't be overstated as Miller should draw the double team if we line him up on the center as I anticipate. Carter has Houston by 80 pounds, but that's not going to help his feet. Houston needs to remind him that football isn't a pie-eating contest. If you want to truly disrupt Tech, you do it with middle pressure without having to sell out on a blitz.
Pretty eyeliner, Brandon
My primary interest in these matchups is tactical: I'll be very curious to see how Leach plays with his line splits when we stunt. Can we stop the run with an honest front? A little early success against the run might try Leach's patience and we want him abandoning the run ASAP.
One other minor quibble: I'd also beg to differ on the characterization of Muckelroy. He doesn't shoot gaps very often (if at all) and he's generally been assigned to clean up duty for anything that gets past our DL. Aside from the OSU game, he's been an All Big 12 performer.
This should lead to some good discussion....
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