Last week, several members of the Texas Tech Football team were dismissed from the squad, budding star linebacker Dakota Allen among them. Allen was by far and away the best pass coverage linebacker we had last year, and was arguably the best defender we had returning. Obviously losing one of our top defenders is a bad ordeal, but how will it affect the lineup and scheme of David Gibbs's defense?
Malik Jenkins and Kris Williams will see a lot more playing time
The rush linebacker position was the only one not truly decided. For all intents and purposes, Dakota Allen and D'vonta Hinton were our starters in the middle. Now we'll have to find a new MLB or rotate a series of guys in until one of them breaks out. Malik Jenkins has been more than serviceable in a rotation role, and it's possible that he gets slotted for the starting role. He had 8 tackles against Texas in 2015, and as a senior would provide some veteran leadership in that role.
Be prepared to see more of true freshman Johnathan Picone than you were expecting to.
I really like Picone as a player. It's a cliche, but Picone plays nasty. Don't believe me? Watch this:
You see what I'm talking about? The kid plays with fire. He suplexes hapless quarterbacks who thought they got a clean release on the bootleg. There's a lot to be said about the way Picone plays the game, but my favorite thing about him is how he sheds blocks with ease.
The things that stick out to me about his tape are his hands and aggression in taking on blockers. He's excellent at meeting the blocker in the gap and either going around him or through him. If Picone can progress over the summer and in the early parts of the season, he'll be a part of the rotation in the late season due to Allen's departure.
Teams might take more chances in the middle-flat passing game
Dakota Allen excelled in pass coverage, especially in the middle of the field. With Allen no longer roaming the middle of the field lurking on quarterbacks thinking they have an easy completion, various teams that work that middle flat well such as TCU and OSU might take a few more shots there. Allen's smart coverage will be missed in this area.
The byproduct of this doesn't bode well either: do we move Jah'Shawn Johnson, Keenon Ward, or Payton Hendrix closer to the middle-flat to supplement this coverage, making us more vulnerable deep? Or do we allow our other linebackers (who have struggled with pass coverage) to take on the unenviable task of covering the Big XII tight ends and running backs?
David Gibbs will have to hit the recruiting trail, hard
We thought we had our linebacker of the future, a sophomore defender with a high ceiling and a knack for covering the middle. Well, now we don't. Allen's loss means that the search is back on, even with the young LB talent we have. You can't be too careful as we don't know if players will get injured or just not pan out. In my opinion, linebacker was the weakest position on a weak defense for the past two years. We'll need to get ahead on the recruiting trail to find another diamond in the rough, especially with the departure of Mike Mitchell.