Texas Tech: Defense Shining in Lubbock

On October 21, Texas Tech will roll into Ames in one of the biggest games of the season for Iowa State. While it's normally the offense getting the buzz for the Red Raiders, this year the defense is returning eight starters and will make quite the splash in 2006. Get the full scoop and see how the Cyclones will match up with Texas Tech here in this CN Big 12 media day report.

In the Mike Leach era, the Texas Tech offense has consistently received the pre-season buzz from members of the media. This year is a little bit different. Why? Eight starters are returning to an already salty defense.

 

In 2005, the Red Raiders had the top ranked pass defense in the Big 12 allowing a mere 180.4 YPG. Keep in mind that at one point in 2003, Tech had the last ranked defense in the nation.

 

Why the improvement? It's simple according to head coach Mike Leach.

 

"I think the biggest difference is that last year we were predominantly a junior defense," Leach said on Monday. "Two years ago we were predominantly a freshman or sophomore defense. Last year, everybody said, ‘o geez, it's so improved, how did it get improved?' Everybody got a year older," Leach said.

 

The defense got older and the defense got better as the season went on in 2005. A lot of that had to do with the play of 6'3, 290 pound DL Chris Hudler. The senior from Mesquite, TX had four sacks last year and is the vocal leader of the Tech D.

 

"I think that we might get a little more respect than we have in recent years, but we just want to improve every year. This year, with the experience we have coming back, we have a good chance to do that," Hudler told CN on Monday. "A lot of us have been together for several years so we know what each other are thinking. There's a lot of cohesion and we work together really well," Hudler said.

 

Offensively, expect the same type of Tech offense that you've seen in recent years. Tech will spread out the receivers, and chuck the football. QB Cody Hodges is gone, and a bit of a QB controversy exists between sophomore Graham Harrell and red-shirt freshman Chris Todd.

 

"There's no real secret to it. You try to figure out who is the best one and then you play them. It's honestly as simple as that," Leach said about his two QB's.

 

It might not matter who the QB is considering in the past four years, four different Tech QB's have thrown for over 4,000 yards (Hodges, Sonny Cumbie, B.J. Symons, Kliff Kingsbury.  Kingsbury and Symons each threw for over 5,000 yards.

 

Tech also returns Joel Filani and Jarrett Hicks who will compete with Iowa State's Todd Blythe for first team Big 12 honors. Last year, Filani had 1,048 yards with eight touchdowns while Hicks added on 850 yards and 10 touchdowns.

 

What does all of this mean? It means that on October 21, Iowa State's green secondary could be in a heap of trouble when the Red Raiders come strolling into Jack Trice Stadium.

 

Texas Tech is much like Iowa State in that the Red Raiders still want to take that next step and win a division championship. The game between the two in October could go a long way in deciding which team takes that step.

 

"We just want to win more games. We went 9-2 last year. With the amount of talent we have and experience coming back, we shouldn't expect anything less than improvement," Hudler said.


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