Another week, another solid outing from the Texas Tech defense. Facing a Houston offense that has solid veteran leadership all-around, the Red Raiders held strong on all fronts as they only allowed 13 points in regulation.
While there were a few big plays allowed, the Red Raiders made sure to hold strong all game. The biggest stop was in the second overtime, where a near-interception stopped Houston’s drive and held them to a field-goal. The offense would then capitalize with a touchdown to seal the victory.
Without further ado, let’s see how the individual units graded out on Saturday.
Defensive Line: B+
The interior of the defensive line kept the Cougars running game in check. Clayton Tune wasn’t allowed to get loose, and the pressure was consistent enough to force the offense into settling for shorter gains.
Jaylon Hutchings had five tackles which lead the unit, and Philip Blidi added three of his own with 1.5 of them resulting in negative gains for the offense. The depth was on point as well, with multiple guys getting in on the action. I will say that defensive line coach Zarnell Fitch does a fantastic job of keeping his guys fresh and knowing who to put in at certain points of the game.
These guys were flying around as usual, and were consistently in on the action. Krishon Merriweather was the leader in tackles again with six, and had a huge forced fumble against former Red Raider Ta’Zhawn Henry early in the game.
Kosi Eldridge wasn’t far behind as he had five tackles, including a sack. The depth of this unit was also on display as they had a few guys in here and there. Hopefully Merriweather is available this Saturday, as he did come down with an injury later in the game.
The guys on the edge had a solid presence and were containing everything coming their way. Tyree Wilson finished with six pressures to go along with his four tackles, but failed to register a sack on the day.
Pressures are great and help force the quarterback into tough positions, but this upcoming week will require this unit to finish the job more often as Devin Leary will likely be the toughest challenge we face all year.
While the amount of big plays wasn’t as alarming, there were still a few that they wish they could have back. Containing Nathaniel Dell is no easy task, as he finished with seven catches for 120 yards, but more than half of that came on a 63 yard reception against Malik Dunlap.
Other than that, the guys were solid out there and prevented any of the big plays from turning into touchdowns. Making the offense settle for field goals was the key to the game, and the guys outside deserve credit for that. Keyon Blankenbaker is proving to be an excellent addition, as he provided solid coverage in the slot.
After getting roasted more than they would’ve liked last week, the safeties put on an amazing performance this past week. Reggie Pearson Jr. had an interception, and DTD was solid all-around as they never let the Cougars feel comfortable enough to take deep shots downfield.
I’m looking forward to seeing these two perform against NC State. Leary isn’t afraid to take shots downfield, so these two will need another excellent performance.
Defensive Player of the Week: Krishon Merriweather
The unquestioned leader of the defense is the player of the week this week. He earned it by showing out in coverage and forcing the key fumble.
He is the highest graded linebacker in the nation according to PFF, and is looking like he will have that Jordyn Brooks type of ascension up the draft boards that I talked about before the season. He’s flying around the field and proving to be not just a run stopper but a great coverage linebacker as well, which is what the NFL is looking for coming into the league.
I will look forward to seeing how healthy he is this upcoming week, because we will need him out there if we want to have the best chance to beat another ranked opponent.