football Edit

Ole Miss coordinator Phil Longo has positive history against Texas Tech

Phil Longo has experience against this Texas Tech defensive system. And, statistically, it’s quite positive.

The Ole Miss offensive coordinator was at Sam Houston State in 2015 when the Bearkats opened the season at Texas Tech. Red Raiders defensive coordinator David Gibbs coached his first game for Tech that day, and while the Raiders won the game, it didn’t go well on the defensive side for those in Lubbock.

In the 59-45 loss, Sam Houston State, operating Longo’s attack, piled up 637 yards and were 9-for-15 on third down. The Bearkats ran for 317 yards (6.9 yards per carry) and quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe was 18-of-24 for 176 yards with a touchdown, and SHSU threw for 320 yards as a team.

Four turnovers kept Sam Houston from challenging to a greater extent, but Longo’s offensive scored at least 14 points in three separate quarters.

Ole Miss and Texas Tech meet in Houston Saturday at 11 a.m., and it’s the same system Longo will try to duplicate the success against. The Red Raiders forced 25 turnovers in that 2015 season, that continues to be a staple of the program. Tech was sixth nationally with 29 turnovers forced last season.

"You always prepare for ball security, so that's always something you're working on,” Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke said. “You are aware that they're very good, and the improvement they made from 2016-2017 they got better in virtually every category. This is a defense that's getting better and returning almost all of their starters, so it's a very formidable defense."

Luke emphasized the positives of Tech defensively, but there’s another side to the 10 starters returning and the turnover numbers. The Raiders were 104th nationally in total defense, allowing 443 yards a game and 5.78 yards per play.

However, those numbers were up from the previous season when Tech was dead last nationally in total defense, allowing 554 yards per game — 34 more yards than the No. 127 total defense — and 7.05 yards per play.

The average game for an opposing quarterback against Tech last season was 24-for-39 for 282 yards with 2.5 touchdowns and one interception.

"They have a lot of confidence on that side of the ball," Longo said. "This is maybe the most talent (head coach Kliff Kingsbury) has had over there."