Year-End Evaluation: Linebackers

Another new defensive coordinator and another new position coach provided similar results to recent seasons as the Texas Tech linebacker corps struggled down the stretch once again. There were some bright spots though, and reasons for optimism in the future.

It wasn't always pretty for the linebacker corps as Texas Tech featured the worst rush defense in the Big 12. Much of this came in the final five games when Tech sustained key injuries and the offense sputtered. The more a defense is on the field, the easier a defense wears down.

Those who followed Tech the past five seasons realized defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt did a good job. The whole defense improved.

Senior Will Smith cracked 100 tackles on the season and scored five sacks. He was a monster and improved statistically almost every game. In the final regular season game of his career, Smith tallied 13 solo tackles, 18 total against Texas in Austin. One of those hits was a 10-yard sack.

The other senior linebacker was Terrance Bullitt. Bullitt was injured at various points this season. The first game he missed was the loss at Oklahoma. He did not play against Kansas State either. When Bullitt was on the field, the defense played at a higher level. Bullitt knocked down nine passes and recovered two fumbles.

Junior Sam Eguaveon will return in 2014, but perhaps the sophomore level is where much of the returning impact is. Micah Awe and Pete Robertson are all sophomores and performed well in 2013. Robertson is a vocal leader who loves to get inside the head of his opponents. Awe led all sophomore linebackers taking part in 57 tackles, 38 of which were solo.

Not all linebackers have a clear future. Sophomore Blake Dees was dismissed from the team midseason for a "violation of team rules". Dees contributed as a freshman and had potential for a bright career at Tech.

It's easy to say the linebackers did an awful job being a part of one of the worst rushing defenses in the nation. The offense did not help in the final five games by committing several turnovers.

Add in the fact there have been five different defensive coordinators in five seasons and there was zero stability on the defense, which will change with Tech graduate Mike Smith. Wallerstedt does not seem to be moving on elsewhere anytime soon either. It will be interesting to see how an experienced crew of linebackers will progress while keeping the same staff for at least one season.

The Future: There is just one commit right now. Dakota Allen is an inside linebacker with speed. Allen has great vision and keys the near-back well. He's tough to pick up when he blitzes and easily crushes the play before it ever has a chance to develop. The Summer Creek product is 6-foot-2 and weighs 227 pounds.

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