Photo By Steven Chapman

Texas Tech Needs Defensive Line to Step Up

While Oklahoma's offense is stacked with explosive skill position players, the offensive line has been a problem all season. Can the Red Raiders take advantage and at least slow the Sooners down enough on Saturday?

The Texas Tech defense will face another dynamic offense this week in No. 17 Oklahoma up in Norman.

Where do the Red Raiders (5-2 overall, 2-2 in Big 12) begin in their gameplan to limit the Sooners’ offense? For senior Pete Robertson (pictured below) the answer to that is easy, they start with themselves. 

“With a team like that you just have to start with yourself, your team, how guys are going to lineup because they are going to make plays. No matter what time of the game they are going to make plays,” said Robertson, who has tallied 35 tackles, a team-leading 8.5 stops for loss, two sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a field goal block. 

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Gibbs said the Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1) offense is stacked with a good quarterback, physical offensive line, two big time running backs and “about six wide receivers and we probably can’t cover any of them.” 

Although, if you slow down Baker Mayfield, chances are you will have a fair chance at having success in Norman.  Being a former teammate of many of the current Red Raiders, they know what to expect from him. 

“It’s going to be extremely exciting,” said senior defensive lineman Braden Jackson, who has tallied 22 tackles, four stops for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. “We had him here so we know what he is about, but we challenged with stopping an electrifying guy with that Johnny Manziel-type of pizazz. It will be interesting, we just have to keep him from dancing.” 

So far through six games, Mayfield is averaging about 312 yards per game passing, and has thrown for 19 touchdowns and only three interceptions. In the Sooners’ one loss, Texas' defensive line was able to pressure him and play a big role in completely shutting down Oklahoma’s running game. Defensive line coach Mike Smith (pictured below) said this is the key for the guys up front this week. 

“We have to stop the run, and force them to throw it. When we force them to throw it we have to get pressure in Mayfield’s face. We have to make him feel uncomfortable in the pocket, loose confidence in his protection and for us to be successful this week it’s going to be on the defensive line,” he said. 

Robertson said if they can play fast, physical and stay on the assignment Gibbs has for them then they will be able to get the job done. 

Photo By Steven Chapman

A battle with a talented conference opponent in a hostile environment is usually enough motivation for athletes to bring their “A” game, but playing a former teammate just adds a little more fuel to the fire. 

“I think they are [excited to play Mayfield], some of these guys are friends with him and some of these guys took it personal so I think it will be fun,” Smith said. “I just think the atmosphere, anytime you go to Oklahoma in front of 90,000 plus people it just exciting place to play. I don’t think you need a lot of extra motivation, if you do you probably shouldn’t play this game.” 

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