With the first session of spring practices as the defensive coordinator under his belt, Coach Ruff's philosophy has taken hold, and the defense seems to be be reinvigorated and primed for an outstanding season in 2008. Three key players are ready to step up and lead the Texas Tech defense.
As a true freshman, LB Bront Bird showed that he was serious about seeing the field, beefing up and working extremely hard the summer prior to his first season as a Red Raider. He was rewarded for his hard work, playing in eight games and recorded16 tackles and one fumble recovery during the 2007 season.
Bird's potential is what should have Red Raider fans most excited. The 6'5" linebacker looks similar to former Tech linebacker John Saldi, though unlike Saldi, Bird is an outstanding open-field tackler. Bird's size and strength make him a natural linebacker, and the speed that he has to go with it should allow him to help neutralize opponent tight-ends who have been able to victimize the Red Raiders in years past.
Bird is slated to be the starting SAM linebacker in 2008 and, if spring practice was any indication, should have an exceptional season.
Chris Perry, a defensive tackle whose transfer from Miami was expected to have limited impact during the 2008 season, has suddenly gone from being an unknown to a player that will be heavily counted upon in the 2008 season. Perry's combination of size and speed make him a match-up nightmare, but it is his attitude that will have the most impact on the Red Raider D, who have been missing an air of aggressiveness and excitement in years past.
The tenacity and sheer willpower of a player like Perry can be as contagious as the flu. Perry isn't expected to start, and why should he with Freshman All-American Colby Whitlock and standout Rajon Henley in-front of him, but Perry rapidly moved up the depth chart during the spring and should be able to replicate that feat during the fall.
Another defender looking to make a serious impact for the Red Raiders next year is defensive end Brandon Williams. With 13 starts under his belt and another season's worth of experience off the bench, he should be stalwart on the Red Raider defensive line…
And yet, in previous years, he never seemed to quite get there. Williams has a knack for getting into the backfield but always seemed about half a step away from finishing the play and making the sack, tackle-for-loss, fumble recovery or what have you.
When the Gator Bowl rolled around, however, a change came over Williams, who played with a chip on his shoulder and a desire that seemed to be lacking early in the season. Williams should have some help when it comes to rushing the passer this coming season, but his own improvement should make him appear that much more impressive. Watch for the new and improved Brandon Williams to become a fan favorite and to wreak some havoc in the backfield in 2008.