2010 TicketCity Bowl Fear-o-meter: Texas Tech's Defense

Hope y'all enjoyed the offensive analysis I busted out earlier. Again, let's pump out the fear-o-meter, and crank the assessment switch to 11, because it's about to get crazy up in here.

Fearometer_medium

Tweaks have been suggested to the fear-o-meter - namely that I add "non-sequitur Will Rogers statue" and "raider rash" to the board - but for now, I'm sticking with what I got.

It stands to reason that the Red Raider defense would be poor - who's gonna defend your stuff when you're busy raiding everybody else's stuff, after all - and turns out, well, I CAN'T TELL YOU BECAUSE THE ANSWER IS AFTER THE JUMP.

Texas Tech's defense is pretty bad, a fact which will be compounded by the fact that their first-year defensive coordinator James Willis decided to leave this past week after he was involved in a domestic assault case. The Red Raiders like to switch it up, as their base set is a multi-front 3-4-ish defense. The team really likes to move around personnel up front, leading to a extremely difficult to read start chart - defensive ends and outside linebackers are interchangeable, as are the nose tackle and various defensive ends, and they occasionally randomly run out with six defensive backs for no apparent reason. (The only player to start every game at the same position is linebacker Bront Bird, who led the team in tackles.) Whatever they did, it wasn't effective.

Against the pass

Texas Tech was the worst team in the country against the pass this year. No, literally: they allowed 306 yards per game through the air, which was 120th out of 120 in the nation, as well as 12th out of 12 in the Big 12, as well as last out of any group of FBS teams you could possibly pick. According to Double-T Nation, Tech cornerbacks were generally good at doing their job of playing man coverage and forcing passes to the sidelines. However, they weren't much good at, you know, actually defending these passes, as evidenced by the whole last place thing. They did pick off 14 passes - as many as Northwestern, if you're wondering - freshman Jarvis Phillips had four including an 87-yard touchdown against Texas, however, I have no idea what happened to the guy, because he isn't on an injury report or the depth chart. Clearly, somebody wasn't pleased with what was going on at corner, because the starters Saturday will be Derrick Mays and LeRon Moore - neither of whom has been a consistent starter all season long, and neither of whom has recorded an interception on the year. Same at safety - Tre Porter has only started sparingly, and only in the second half of the season, even starting a game at cornerback, while Cody Davis was benched for the last two games of the regular season in favor of Brett Dewhurst but will start Saturday. Perhaps the Raiders' best option against the pass is senior linebacker Brian Duncan, who has a team-high seven sacks on the season. The team has 24 sacks on the year, so at least the 3-4 front has done a good job of pressuring the quarterback.

Fear level: Chinchilla.

Against the run

Texas Tech doesn't have a great run defense - they've allowed 157 yards per game on the ground, slightly below the midway mark of college football. Nobody has really torched the Raiders on the ground this year - the biggest performance was Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter, who ran for 130 yards, but the real culprit that cost them that game was the 350 passing yards they gave up. Then again, teams have looked to exploit Texas Tech through the air all year - opponents have attempted 490 passes and 459 rushes, including the 24 sacks. That said, they allow a perfectly decent 4.1 yards per rushing attempt - not great, not awful either. The team's biggest tackler is Bront Bird, who has started every game at weak-side linebacker. The front four - er, front three - is dominated by all-Big 12 second teamer Colby Whitlock, the team's starter at the defensive tackle spot. Whitlock started off the year as nose tackle but moved over, occasionally playing defensive end as well. He's racked up 8.5 tackles-for-loss in the middle of the line, only two of which were sacks, so he has a knack for stuffing up run plays in the backfield.

Fear level: Clowns

 

Overall

Texas Tech won't beat you with defense. They allowed more yards this season than all but four teams in the country, part of which is certainly due to their run-and-gun high-paced scoring offense, but part of which is because they couldn't defend a pass if their little Red Raider lives depended on it. The air is open all day every day, and teams have and will exploit that. (That said, they threw for more yards and scored more passing touchdowns than they allowed  - meaning if "teams that played against Texas Tech" was a team, it would have the worst pass defense in the country.) Most likely, Texas Tech's offseason will focus on defense: they'll likely ditch the 3-4 scheme under whoever their new defensive coordinator is, with Willis gone. You can't blame him for failing to implement a successful scheme in one year with players he didn't recruit, and perhaps with time, he could have made Texas Tech into a successful 3-4 program. However, it failed in the short-term, and now that he's gone, Texas Tech will be even more of a clusterfreak when they're trying to stop the pass.

Fear level: Public speaking

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