Hop's Defensive Grades – Texas Tech

For the fourth straight game, the Texas Aggie defense gave up more than 400 yards, and last week against Tech the defense gave up over 500 yards. Normally, that's a bad sign, but when you stop a Mike Leach offense 10 times and create five turnovers in the process, you've done your job. Websider's David Sandhop grades the Aggie defense against Texas Tech

For the fourth straight game, the Texas Aggie defense gave up more than 400 yards, and last week against Tech the defense gave up over 500 yards. Normally, that's a bad sign, but when you stop a Mike Leach offense 10 times and create five turnovers in the process, you've done your job.

This isn't a dominant Wrecking Crew defense just yet and the unit will give up yards, but the name of the game is keeping the opponent out of the end zone and creating scoring opportunities for the offense and that's exactly what this unit did on Saturday. For example, the biggest play of the game came at the end of the first half after Tech marched down the field and gobbled up yardage with the Aggies holding a 28-14 advantage. With time running out and the Red Raiders inside the 15 yard-line, Taylor Potts went to the back of the end zone, but Terrence Frederick had perfect inside position on his receiver and intercepted the ball for a touchback and sending the Aggies into the locker room leading by 14 points. A Tech touchdown in the closing seconds not only closes the gap to one score, but also gives the Red Raiders valuable momentum going to the locker room. Instead, the Aggies keep the margin and the momentum, and promptly open the second half with a touchdown drive that basically cemented the outcome.

When playing Texas Tech, the goal is not to shut down their offense. That's almost impossible to do. What you want is to get stops, enough stops to give your offense a chance to outscore them. With 10 stops and a 22 point victory, the mission was accomplished.


Defensive Line A-

The defensive line had its moments on Saturday. I thought they did a good job in spots of gaining penetration. On the first fourth down stop, the line did a great job of penetration on the end around that forced the runner deeper than he wanted and allowed Jordan Pugh and backside help to trip up the ball carrier before he reached the original line of scrimmage. The line wasn't consistently effective as the Tech quarterbacks did have time to throw, but in critical situations guys like Matt Moss and Von Miller made it to the passer and created big plays and turnovers. I also thought that the defensive line helped later in the game with backside pursuit to close off the inside lanes on those screen passes that worked so effectively in the first half.


Linebacker B+

The linebackers had their struggles, but they also made big plays. Garrick Williams had the first big turnover on the interception and he was the first defender to really sniff out a screen and drop the receiver for a loss. Right when I started to wonder about Kyle Mangan's ferocity to chase the ball in run support, he leaves his feet and smacks a runner that results in a fumble and another takeaway for the defense. Michael Hodges made some good plays in stopping the run, and Jonathan Stewart sniffed out a couple of plays as well.


Defensive Back A

I thought the secondary had the best game. They gave up plenty of completions, but beside the early screen passes, the Tech offense did not burn the A&M secondary for many big, quick strike plays – and that is the key to getting stops against their offense. Jordan Pugh broke up a couple of long pass plays and of course Terrence Frederick had the interception to save a touchdown at the end of the first half that preserved the 14-point lead. This unit isn't perfect and they will give up plays, but as a whole this group is solid and formidable in coverage. They can improve in the run support a little, but in the context of this game, that's just nitpicking.


Special Teams B-

Ryan Epperson did a satisfactory job simply by getting the punts away and avoiding any game changing plays by Texas Tech. Still, 36-38 yard punts with little hang time will hurt this team in a closer game. The kickoff team gave up a couple of returns out to the 35-40 yard-line, but they too avoided the momentum-changing return. A&M's return teams were quiet, but didn't make any glaring mistakes. That's about al you can say about special teams. They didn't give up a game changer.

OVERALL DEFENSIVE GRADE A-



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