Experience may be the key word when it comes to the Red Raider defense during the 2004 campaign. Last year's defense featured nine players who had never stepped on to the field for the Red Raiders. They were also led by first year Texas Tech Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers coach Lyle Setencich.
Over the course of his coaching career, Setencich's defensive units dramatically improved after gaining experience in his system. During his stint as defensive coordinator at The University of California his defense rose from tenth in the Pac Ten Conference to third after his first season.
This season marks Setencich's second year at Texas Tech, and expectations are high. A slew of returning starters are mixed in with highly touted, athletic junior college transfers. Coach Setencich recently took the time to answer a few questions about linebackers, depth and impact newcomers for 2004.
RP: Who are this week's starters at LB?
LS: "Brock Stratton, John Saldi, and Mike Smith."
RP: How many of Tech's linebackers will see the field in certain defensive situations?
LS: "There are nine guys who could play each game."
RP: Which guys do you like to play at LB particularly in long yardage situations?
LS: "Fletcher Session and Brent Slaughter will be passing down guys."
RP: In the offseason you added a lot of Junior College recruits to this defense. Which of these new players do you think will have the biggest impact this season?
LS: "I think that all of the JC guys have a chance to make a big impact. Dek Bake, Brett Bischofberger, Charlie Glover, Dwayne Slay, Sylvester Brinkley— they are all good players."
RP: What do you think the biggest difference in this year's defense will be?
LS: "Well, the main thing is you have a lot more experienced players on the field now. After playing last year they are now more aware of what is going on in a game."
RP: Who would you consider the most improved returning starter to this defense?
LS: "That's hard to say. I thought the most improved linebacker in the spring was John Saldi. There has been a dramatic improvement in a lot kids. Vincent Meeks has practiced in spring and in two-a-day practices better than I have ever seen him. On the defensive line, Fred Thrweat and Patrice (Majondo-Mwamba) have really improved, along with a lot of other guys."
RP: Vocal leader of the defense?
LS: "I'd say Mike Smith and Adell Duckett."
RP: What kind of home field advantage do you think Jones SBC Stadium provides the defense, even though some would argue that artificial surface is harder to defend on?
LS: "Well, anytime you play at home and you have good fan and student support I think it is an advantage. I've only been here a short time, but the fan support and the student support are tremendous."
RP: What is the biggest adjustment you've had to make moving from Berkley, California, to Lubbock, Texas?
LS: "Just getting here really. Lubbock is just like where I grew up and was raised for twenty years in the valley of California."
Setencich's Defense : Better with Age
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