Opposing Player to Watch: Eric Striker

Texas Tech hosts Big 12 foe Oklahoma 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, TX. One of the Red Raiders' primary concerns is keeping Sooner pass rushing specialist Eric Striker from taking over the game.

All Big 12 performer Eric Striker is listed as a linebacker, but does most of his damage playing defensive end in the five-man fronts that Oklahoma runs so often. Consequently, he is much more of a pass rusher than a run stuffer.

Striker burst onto the national scene in Oklahoma’s upset victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. In that contest he was simply too much for massive Tide tackle Cyrus Kouandjio to handle. Striker turned in a performance for the ages, recording three sacks, seven tackles and forcing the fumble from A. J. McCarron that sealed Alabama’s fate.

At only six feet tall and weighing a fairly modest 220 pounds, Striker is actually a bit of an undersized player. As evidenced by his fairly low tackle total of 50 last season, he is hardly a classic linebacker. But when lined up as a defensive end, his burst at the snap off the ball and speed coming around the edge are lethal.

Through nine games this season Striker has tallied 40 tackles, 9.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks, three pass breakups, three quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery.

His game is very similar to former Virginia Tech All-American Corey Moore. And closer to home, he will remind some Texas Tech olde-tymers of Calvin Riggs who was an undersized but extremely effective defensive end for the Red Raiders in the mid- to late-80s.

When the Sooners invade Jones Stadium on Saturday, Texas Tech’s offense will have an all-day job on its hands. Charles Tapper is a powerhouse tackle for OU and linebacker Dominique Alexander is Oklahoma's leading tackler with 79 stops. That being said, even Kliff Kingsbury admitted earlier this week the Red Raiders will have Striker circled in red in the game plan.

“I think they're very attacking. Striker is a guy who everybody has had a hard time blocking. Their front is good. They take away from of the inside runs you like to do,” Kingsbury said. “Really they played great defense all year. I think this Saturday was kind of the exception, and the game kind of got away from them a little bit, but Baylor's offense will do that to you, obviously, so not a lot of weak spots. We had to protect the football, first and foremost. Then be physical, because they're a physical group.”

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