Back in 2013, the Houston Cougars were the top team in the country in turnovers averaging over three per game. That Houston defense was known for getting after the ball and the vaunted “3rd Ward D” had their own type of swagger that wrecked havoc on everyone in the AAC. The creator of that defense was none other than David Gibbs who had become the maestro in forcing turnovers and his players fed off of his energy. That same year, Texas Tech finished 96th in turnovers gained and followed that up with an even worse performance the following year finishing 112th. In the winter of 2015, Kliff Kingsbury made the announcement that David Gibbs would be the newest Defensive Coordinator of the Texas Tech Red Raiders making him the seventh DC in seven seasons. Gibbs’ first year was an example of what Gibbs’ influence could do as the Red Raiders shot up to 32nd in the country in turnovers averaging almost two a game, however the following season resulted in one of the worst defensive seasons in Texas Tech history leading David Gibbs firmly on the hot seat. Finally in year three, with an influx of Juco transfers and veteran leadership responding to coaching stability, we are starting to see the reformed “806 D” instilling their own swagger onto the field and thusly creating turnovers. Tech currently ranks fourth in the nation in turnovers, and didn’t need a turnover chain to do it. Finally getting to see Gibbs’ defense in full force is becoming a treat to watch and something that Tech will be able to use as a weapon going forward.
What is there to say about the DTs Broderick Wahington Jr and Mych Thomas that hasn’t already been said all season long? Arguably the most consistent duo on the entire team, these two have been a big reason for Tech’s defensive success. Thomas saw the performance Washington had against TCU last week and had a imposing game of his own as he amassed five tackles with one for loss. Their ability to plug up the middle and neutralize the opposing OLines has been monumental. The Ends have improved tremendously throughout the season despite the injuries this group has seen. Kolin Hill and Tony Jones both went from preseason backups to causing chaos on the line Friday night. They combined for nine tackles, two for loss, and made Sam Ehlinger’s day difficult.
Ehlinger was also introduced to the best linebacking duo in the Big 12. With Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson on the other side of the ball, Dakota Allen made it a point to outshine his opponent and that he did. Allen led the game with 13 tackles, two for loss, and a sack, out performing his counterpart in each stat. Jordyn Brooks had a glorious game as well, constantly getting in Ehlinger’s face and a big knock down when Texas was trying to convert a third down in the second half. Brooks added to his already dominant day by recovering a much needed fumble in the third quarter which would be the first of many turnovers for Tech on the day.
The pride and joy of David Gibbs’ coaching has and always will be the secondary. He has been a secondary coach his entire career in the NFL, UFL, and NCAA, and even played defensive back himself at Colorado. This unit has been up and down all season but seem to be peaking at the right time and when Gibbs and Kingsbury need it the most. Since shelling out their worst performance of the season, this group has improved and is now starting to get that Jamar Wall/Dwayne Slay swagger of the 2000s. Leading this group is none other than Jah’shawn Johnson, who deserves all conference honors for his play all season, and the ‘Ball Hawk” himself Justus Parker. Parker has been a revelation, to think that he was a Division 3 transfer is ludicrous. He’s everywhere and always where you need him at the right time. Friday night, with Tech down three and on their side of the 50, the Red Raiders needed a big stop, and Parker came through. Not only did he make a stop, he intercepted the ball and almost ran it back himself. Taking the ball to the 14 yard line where the offense didn’t squander the opportunity to take the lead. That interception is what big time players are made of, and Parker has proven himself to be a big time player and a leader of this refined 806 D. To top this performance off, Ehlinger was denied a comeback opportunity at the end with a victory clinching interception by Douglas Coleman to save the game, the season, and likely Kingsbury and Gibbs’ jobs.