BleedTechBlue - Stat Attack | North Texas
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Stat Attack | North Texas

To start the season, Louisiana Tech’s red zone defense left a lot to be desired. In the opener, Mississippi State drove into the red zone five times and scored a touchdown all five times. Then, in week two, Southeastern Louisiana did the exact same thing, reaching the end zone on each of their five red zone drives.

But early in the second quarter against SMU, the Tech defense was facing a 3rd & Goal from the one-yard line. The Mustangs had two plays to gain one yard. But on both third down and fourth down, the defense stood tall and forced a turnover on downs.

In total, SMU made six trips inside Tech’s 20-yard line. In addition to that fourth-down stop, the Bulldogs also forced two red zone field goals. After Tech’s red zone defense had failed to keep a team out of the end zone all year, the Bulldogs kept SMU from reaching paydirt three times on Saturday.

And the performance against the Mustangs means that Tech is no longer in last place on this chart:

But a red zone defense is only as good as the team they are facing is bad. And North Texas has not had a lot of luck once reaching the 20-yard line.

Against SMU, North Texas reached the red zone five times. Two trips ended with kicks for three points, but two more ended in fourth-down stops and another in an interception. Against UAB, it was even worse for the Mean Green. Only once did North Texas get inside UAB’s 20-yard line, and that drive ended in a fourth-down stop.

In total, North Texas’s red zone offense has left a lot to be desired:

Tech’s defense made huge strides in the red zone against SMU. If there’s any team to build momentum against, it’s North Texas.

But let’s jump back to that 4th & Goal stop that Tech made against SMU for a moment. Let’s not forget that not only was it a red zone stop, it was also a fourth-down stop. Tech has only faced two fourth-down attempts on the season (both against SMU) but has stopped both.

Meanwhile, North Texas hasn’t been so fortunate:

Tech has played three games and all three have been close. Tech will hopefully take care of business early this weekend, but if this game comes down to the wire, a red zone or fourth-down stop may be the deciding factor. And Tech has shown that they can do both.

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Nathan is also a contributor to gtpdd.dog, a lighthearted Louisiana Tech blog. Be sure to check out @gotechplsdntdie on Twitter.