For those that didn't realize or didn't know, the Texas Tech defense ranked 2nd in total defense in the Big 12 in 2012. While that may have been a by-product of the first half of the schedule and not performances versus TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma St, that ranking is a building block for 2013.
Total defense is calculated by dividing the number of yards given up by the number of games played. Texas Tech ranked second behind TCU in that category. That stat, while good on paper, doesn't tell the complete story. Much like the 2012 season, the 2013 story on defense can't be explained by using this one stat.
If Tech could improve in certain defensive categories by 15% and maybe see the yards gained increase by 10%, that will more than likely produce a more positive impact on the field.
Improved numbers in the following categories will be imperative, given the pending learning curve of a new offense and new QB.
Rushing Defense – Every team in the Big 12 gave up at least 100 yards per game on the ground last season. Texas Tech ranked fifth, but was closer to the bottom of the barrel than the top, as over half the teams, including Texas & Oklahoma, gave up between 175 and 193 yards rushing per game. A 15% improvement will put the Red Raiders 149 yards allowed per game in 2013, which would have been good enough for fourth in the league. With the returning experience on the defensive line (even with Delvon Simmons' departure), the Red Raiders should take a step forward in 2013.
Red zone defense – Here is another category where Tech is 9th of 10 teams in the Big 12 in 2012. However, a 10% improvement here puts them in the top 4. Clearly, the fewer points allowed, the better chance you have to win, but I think the perpetual hope here would be that this team could get a red zone stop when it needed one.
Turnover margin – This is the big one. Texas Tech was dead last in this category among Big 12 teams in 2012 (and 106th in the country), and it wasn't close. The Red Raiders were -13 in turnover margin a season ago. To put that into perspective, every time they took the field, the opposing team was guaranteed one more turnover than Texas Tech. I can't fathom what it means in terms of in-game possessions. A 15% improvement, even on both sides of the equation won't make a dent here. Only forcing 11 turnovers in 2012, the defense could force twice that in 2013 and it wouldn't be an unreasonable expectation.
Something else to consider: Pass defense won't be first in the league. This defense will take more risks than before. That means more big plays will be given up by the defensive backs. That will add to the yardage total, but how many Texas Tech fans would trade an opponent's long TD for a few forced turnovers? More than a few would be my guess.