Daniel Cobb, Cqulin Hubert, Blake Dees, Sam Eguavoen, Tanner Foster, Tyrone Sonier, Zach Winbush
Key Stat: Despite fielding hand down the nation's worst rushing defense, the Red Raiders actually ranked a respectable No.54 nationally in tackles per loss per game with 5.92. Although it may have seemed as though Tech's defense was overly passive, it managed to get upfield quite a bit. Perhaps too much.
Before the season ever started, most observers targeted the Red Raider linebackers as a potential weakness. And why not? Cqulin Hubert was the only linebacker on the roster with any real experience, and he was a mere sophomore. Daniel Cobb and Zach Winbush were completely untested, while freshmen Blake Dees and Sam Eguavoen were total unknowns. In this instance, the pundits were right to sense a weakness.
A raw linebacking corps such as Tech's might have stood a bare chance if it had played behind a dominant defensive line. Alas, that was decidedly not the case, and as a result the Red Raider linebackers were raw meat for opposing rushing attacks.
Tech's linebackers, lacking assistance from a traditional third linebacker in Chad Glasgow's 4-2-5 alignment, were often confronted by running backs who had not even been touched when they reached the defense's second level. They also had to cope with fullbacks and the occasional o-lineman who was not needed to help with Tech's anemic defensive line.
Zach Thomas and E. J. Holub would have struggled in such a situation. The primary quartet of Hubert, Dees, Cobb and Eguavoen was plowed under.
As often as not, no Tech linebacker laid a finger on a runner until after he was at least three yards downfield. And unfortunately, the group's tackling got worse as the season wore on.
The tremendous physical wear and tear the linebackers endured certainly accounted for some of the poor tackling. So too did the emotional toll of one demoralizing loss after another. Defense, they say, is all about effort. And effort comes from motivation. For much of 2011, Tech's defense, including the linebackers, didn't have much motivation.
From an individual standpoint there's little positive one can say.
Daniel Cobb led the linebackers in tackles with 70 and tackles for loss with 7.5, but he was a classic case of a player playing out of position. Cobb was a darn good safety in high school, and safety is where he belongs--he simply gets engulfed far too often by FBS blockers. And for a high school safety, Cobb was surprisingly ineffective in pass defense. He had no interceptions, pass breakups or even passes defended.
Cqulin Hubert is one of the better effort players on defense, and he's big enough to play linebacker in the Big 12, but he's just not very fast. Hubert was occasionally effective between the tackles, but is not a sideline-to-sideline linebacker. Still, he is capable of developing into a competent college defender.
When healthy, Blake Dees is probably the best all-around linebacker on the roster. Unfortunately, he was rarely healthy during his true freshman campaign. Dees is instinctual and physical, however, and faster than most people think. He should develop into a good one eventually.
During August workouts the Texas Tech coaches raved about Sam Eguavoen, praising him for flying around the field and playing with reckless abandon. But when the season commenced, we saw little indication of this. Instead, he was habitually out of position, taking poor pursuit angles and missing tackles.
Given Eguavoen's almost total lack of experience—he didn't even play football until his senior year in high school—this was to be expected. What was criminal was that Tech was forced to throw Eguavoen into the fire long before he was ready. He didn't stand a chance.