Year One under David Gibbs was without a doubt a difficult one. Even though the Red Raiders showed progress on tape from 2014's disastrous defensive effort, the stats weren't there. Solid first halves were butchered as the game dragged on due to a lack of depth and youth in the defense. Unfortunately for Texas Tech, that youth isn't getting much older. However, the experience gained by all these young players will hopefully drive the Red Raiders to be better on the defensive side of the ball in 2016.
Very simply put, it's hard to win in a conference chock full of upperclassmen talent when over half of your best players on defense are either true or redshirt freshmen. While we did have senior talent such as Pete Robertson and J.J. Gaines leading the charge, the stats and big plays were mostly made by young men who have yet to take a 4000 level class at Texas Tech.
Secondary: Nigel Bethel, Jah'Shawn Johnson
A lot of the secondary is going to hinge on the coverage abilities of Bethel and Johnson. Nigel Bethel has proved that he's a match for most anyone in one-on-one coverage, and Johnson's ball hawking tendencies earned him Big XII defensive player of the week for his efforts against Arkansas. With the departure of J.J. Gaines, Texas Tech will need Bethel and Johnson to step up and be consistent in the backfield. Ball hawking ability is great, but part of the "bend but don't break" philosophy of David Gibbs is, well, not breaking.
Linebackers: D'Vonta Hinton, Dakota Allen
Dakota Allen is my choice for favorite Texas Tech defender in 2015. His two picks were absolutely picture perfect, and his tackling ability improved as the season went on. D'Vonta Hinton looks to be a run stopping machine, and with the departure of Micah Awe the starting spots more or less belong to these two. The Red Raiders have long been criticized for their inability to tackle, and the improvement needs to start with the two men over the middle of the defense.
Defensive Line: Breiden Fehoko
Fehoko had some absolutely standout plays in 2015. From tackling the running back with the back of the offensive linemen on multiple occasions, to the diving interception in the West Virginia game, he's shown a lot of potential. He looked winded at times, but that's to be expected when you're playing dang near every defensive snap. If we're going to shore up the run defense, Fehoko will have to play an even bigger part in 2016.