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Texas Tech Defensive Grades: West Virginia

An Uninspiring Performance

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Raiders were sent home licking their wounds on homecoming weekend after the No. 20 West Virginia Mountaineers handed Texas Tech a 48-17 thumping in the Jones. West Virginia dominated every facet of the game, including the Tech defense. Let’s take a look at how each group did. (Hint: not very well.)

Defensive Line: F

This group has shown the most overall improvement over last year’s unit, but Saturday was a throwback to 2015 in the worst way. West Virginia dominated the line of scrimmage in the passing and running game and did whatever they wanted all game. Nobody inside could get any push and nobody on the outside could set the edge and turn runners back toward the middle. WVU quarterback Skyler Howard is a good athlete, but he looked like an All-American against this group Saturday. Giving up north of 330 rushing yards on over 7 yards per carry is bad, but far too many of those yards came before anyone contacted the ball carrier. This will have to improve quickly before OU comes to town.

Linebackers: F

The entire defensive front struggled mightily, including the linebackers. Containment was an issue all day. West Virginia runners showed excellent vision all day and capitalized on holes throughout the defense. Of the 28 first downs that the Mountaineers picked up, many came in ways which the linebackers could have helped stop. More pressure up front would have certainly helped, but nobody in this group was able to pick up the slack routinely.

Defensive Backs: D-

On a frustrating number of occasions, solid defense was beaten by better offense in the passing game. Howard threaded the needle on several passes that most people wouldn’t expect him to make regularly, and the receivers often caught the ball in stride and picked up more yardage after the catch. There were several solid tackles early, but eventually the West Virginia rushing attacked freed up passing lanes that they took advantage of. There’s no defense for a perfect pass and West Virginia deserves credit for having so many of them.

Overall Grade: F

This was the first good Big 12 offense on the schedule, but it won’t be the best or the last. West Virginia moved the ball at will and would have scored more if the Tech offense could have kept it closer. Mobile quarterbacks running out of the shotgun is a recipe for disaster and several other teams in the conference have the ingredients to hurt the Red Raiders in this way. As the team heads into the meat of conference play, bowl eligibility is becoming a concern. If the defense can forget about this game and move on, the Red Raiders can still salvage this season.