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Texas Tech Defensive Grades: Texas

Texas v Texas Tech Photo by John Weast/Getty Images

After an encouraging win over TCU in Fort Worth, the Texas Tech defense had some confidence to build from in their last home game of the season.Longhorn running back D’Onta Foreman ate that confidence for lunch.The junior standout racked up 341 yards and 3 touchdowns while averaging over 10 yards per carry. It was the kind of soul-crushing performance that Texas Tech is unfortunately growing all too familiar with. Despite a career game from the man who now ranks second nationally in rushing yards, there were some positives to take from the defense’s performance.Defensive Line: D

Though the Longhorns did manage some explosive running plays, the bulk of their day was spent grinding out first downs. Foreman was never tackled for a loss and constantly gained extra yards by pushing the pile and falling forward. Twenty five of his carries gained seven yards or less, which isn’t a bad number given the defense’s size and depth issues. These are “bend but don’t break” numbers, and the defensive line deserves some credit here. Against a lesser running back, this unit would have had an above average game.

Linebackers: D-

The aforementioned explosive plays were too often a result of poor gap integrity or missed tackles by this group. Texas ran the ball plenty out of the pistol, which allowed their backs to take handoffs with a full head of steam. Pursuit to the outside wasn’t as much of an issue this week because Texas uses a more downhill rushing approach. Nobody in the nation has been able to stop Foreman this season and this group did little to change that.

Defensive Backs: A-

Outside of their very first snap, this unit had a great day. The obvious highlight was Douglas Coleman’s incredible goal line strip and 100 yard touchdown return. Later in the game, Jah’Shawn Johnson had a crucial strip that resulted in a takeaway. Coleman and Johnson have emerged as playmakers on the defense and it was great to see each make a savvy play to cause a turnover. The Texas running game left the secondary vulnerable to big plays on play-action, but Texas was never able to connect. Buechele was inefficient throwing the ball in large part due to the secondary having their second consecutive great game.

Overall Grade: C

The defense gave up over 650 yards and only kept Texas under 50 points because of Coleman’s amazing play. Still, at the end of the game, they did enough to give the team a chance to win. Depth and size limitations usually lead to the defense falling apart down the stretch. On Saturday, however, they forced a turnover and two punts before stopping Texas on a 4th down late. It was the most impressive stretch of the afternoon, and that it came in the 4th quarter after being gashed by a great running back all day was a great sign for the future. They showed a lot of fight and heart, and that’s something to build on.