Coming into this season, the Texas Tech fan-base had the same anxiety as it has always had in Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure which was one of cautiousness when it came to the defense. “If only the defense could match the offense,” was a common critique of analysts far and wide and had Kingsbury and Defensive Coordinator David Gibbs firmly on the hot seat. This led Kingsbury to devoting some time in defensive meeting rooms this off season and making the defense a personal focus this year as opposed to years’ past.
After seeing the defense win two of the three spring scrimmages, fans were optimistic but still needed to see proof of true improvement. It’s safe to say that improvement came in week 4 when Tech played a Kyle Allen led Houston squad and virtually shut them down all game. From then on we saw this defense take games under control and become a strength for this team. Can’t have a 6-6 season without some hiccups and Oklahoma and West Virginia provided plenty for Gibbs to be upset about, but this defense played some of the best football we hadn’t seen from this group since the Ruffin McNeil days.
The defensive line has long been a crutch for the Red Raiders. Tech has constantly been overpowered by bigger OLines throughout Big 12 history but not this year. Broderick Washington Jr. and Mychealon Thomas were huge all season and made running lanes difficult for opposing offenses. The D Ends were arguably the most improved position on the entire defense as Eli Howard, Kolin Hill and company went from not getting pressure on the quarterback to seemingly being in the backfield on every play. Washington is being replaced by big Joe Wallace and everyone else is coming back, so expect this unit to be an even bigger force next year.
Is there a better story in football than the one if Dakota Allen? After being one of the top Tech recruits and playing as a redshirt freshman in 2015, Allen looked like he was set to be the next great Red Raider linebacker until he got into some trouble. We all watched Allen earn his way back onto the Tech roster while playing at EMCC and his ability has really shined through all year. Not to be outdone Jordyn Brooks has also played lights out and would arguably be the top story on almost any other defense in the conference. The duo of Allen and Brooks is what drives this Red Raider defense and having them back for another year will not only improve this defense but make them feared.
This secondary is the only defensive group all season to have received a F grade AND an A+ grade. That’s just how up and down their season has been. They made Houston bench their quarterback, yet gave Kansas State a reason to make theirs the permanent starter. Justus Parker and Jah’Shawn Johnson were two members that were consistently good. No matter how terrible the secondary played, we could usually count on those two to have top notch games. Every other player was very questionable. Damarcus Fields and Desmon Smith both won Viva Player of the week’s for their gameplay yet dissapeared at other moments in the season. However, as the sayoing goes, “What have you done for me lately.” And the last two grades doled out to this group were A+ worthy performances and with every single member of this defense coming back again, I expect better things to come.