Defense Enters Conference Play with Questions

The Red Raiders know that the defense will play a huge role in determining where the Red Raiders finish this season. While it is nice to have the offense playing well, the defense will be the key to any hopes of winning a Big 12 championship.

While the defense has had some promising moments during the first four games, there have been an equal number of disappointing moments. This up and down type of performance is characteristic of a young defense, but the Red Raiders don't have time to wait for the defense to mature if they are going to compete with the best teams in the conference. One problem has been injuries. Without a stable lineup of players it is hard to build a cohesive starting unit. Combine this with the number of players seeing their first extended time on the field and you get an inconsistent defense.

The biggest question right now is at cornerback. Numerous players have seen significant playing time, but the unit as a whole has been giving up some big plays. Right now the freshman duo of Chad Johnson and Antonio Huffman are probably the best athletes at the position. While the thought of having two freshmen at cornerback is scary, nobody else has significant playing experience either. These two players give the Red Raides the best chance of stopping opposing receivers.

The other question is stopping the run. Texas Tech has seen several teams put up big numbers on the ground this season. With Big 12 play looming, the Red Raiders figure to see several more running backs of equal or better caliber. What's it going to take to stop the run? The first step is better speed on the edges. The return of Fletcher Session should help in this department. Another key is better tackling. The number of missed tackles is too high, even for a defense that tends to get multiple players around the ball carrier. The only thing that will improve tackling is more time in games.

If the defense can improve in these areas, the Red Raiders will once again be competing for a Big 12 championship when they play Oklahoma in November, but if they continue to struggle it could be a long season. The run defense will probably improve first, but the pass defense needs to improve before the Red Raiders face Oklahoma State. Texas Tech fans should be prepared for some more defensive ups and downs, but hopefully the level of consistency will gradually increase as the season progresses.

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