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Texas Tech’s defense sets tone for the season

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Defensive Grades against Eastern Washington.

NCAA Football: Eastern Washington at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

What a performance by this entire unit! This Red Raider defense were faced with the task of shutting down the high powered Eastern Washington offense and the 806D stepped up. Last season, Tech was the third worst Power 5 team in the country in turnovers gained, and from the very first play the team worked to rectify it. After Jah’shawn Johnson’s forced fumble, the team put the foot on the gas and EWU’s Gage Gubrud was never able to get into a rhythm.

Defensive Line

The D line consistently found its way into the backfield. EWU rushers rarely found themselves getting to the next level and most of that had to do with the push this unit was able to get. Led by Kolin Hill’s two tackles for loss, the line was able to push the EWU offensive line back and make plays. Lonzell Gilmore and Tony Jones made their presences felt as Gilmore led the line with three solo tackles, while Jones had the only sack of the day and followed that up with an interception at the line of scrimmage.

Grade: B+

Linebackers

This week started sour with the news of D’Vonta Hinton leaving the team, however this group of LBs didn’t let that deter their mission. Jordyn Brooks tied for the team lead with seven tackles on the day, right behind him was Dakota Allen with six, and Brayden Stringer with five. This linebacking group held the EWU rushing attack to less than 100 yards for just the third time in three years, and also removed the entire middle of the field for Gubrud.

Grade: A

Defensive Backs

Jah’Shawn Johnson made his 16th straight start on Saturday and with his new Captain title, he led the entire defense from the first play of the game, forcing a fumble. He continued his dominant play by leading the team with seven tackles, and communicating with his fellow DBs throughout the game. The JUCO transfers shined through with their play during the day. Vaughntae Dorsey earned his hard hitting reputation with a few bone tingling tackles, while Octavious Morgan was able to lock down his side of the field. Arkansas transfer Willie Sykes had the play of the game for the defense as he intercepted Gubrud and took the ball to the house scoring Tech’s first interception touchdown since 2015. The only blip on the day was EWU’s lone touchdown which only came because of a Desmon Smith slip. After that, Terence Grady was held down throughout until he left with injury and no one else could get much success against this group.

Grade: A-