The Texas Tech defensive line did a better than credible job Saturday against one of the most complicated and best executed offenses in the country. Starters Rajon Henley and Colby Whitlock rotated in and out at the tackle spots while Brandon Williams decided that he'd had enough of Nevada and recorded two late game sacks.
Jake Ratliff looked good on first and second downs, especially in helping sniff out a reverse that was stopped for a loss. McKinner Dixon and Brandon Sesay, two players who were brought in because of their ability to play defensive end, have seen more time at tackle than outside.
And for the second week in a row, a defensive lineman had an interception as junior Richard Jones intercepted a pass that was batted into the air by Sesay.
Sesay is growing into a dangerous interior lineman and this versatility should help him at the next level, especially if he can show that both tackle and end are within his grasp at the collegiate level.
Linebackers : B+
If there were questions about Bront Bird heading into the game Saturday, they should have been answered. The true sophomore linebacker had the type of game that some players wait their entire career to have, including a 10 yard sack along with 15 total tackles. Brian Duncan was also very active throughout the game, though he was at times spelled by Victor Hunter to attempt to get a little more size into the linebacker corp.
Marlon Williams had a somewhat quiet evening, though he was present on pursuit plays and did find himself having to force option plays outside. Julius Howard seems to have taken Blake Collier's spot as the swing linebacker with Howard being the first outside linebacker off of the bench.
For the linebackers, the day was spent mostly trying to make the routine play. While they were at times exploited, they flashed the potential that is present within the group and the somewhat surprising depth that can be found across the board at the different positions.
Defensive Backfield : B-
While Jamar Wall had a tough day, giving up a long touchdown pass in the 4th quarter, Daniel Charbonnet proved that he can be a three down safety yet again with several clutch tackles and a huge, game changing, strip and fumble recovery as Nevada was attempting to go into the end zone for the go ahead touchdown.
Darcel McBath had a somewhat quiet night while Brent Nickerson and LaRon Moore continue their live game auditions for the starting right cornerback position. While Moore did, at times, make plays that Nickerson didn't, Nickerson did a tremendous job fighting off offensive linemen throughout the night and putting a stop to some of Nevada's screens.
Defensive Play of the Game
Daniel Charbonnet stripping and recovering the football for a touchback in the 3rd quarter and Brandon Williams back-to-back sacks to help wind down the 4th quarter.
Overall Offensive Grade : C+
While the Tech offense looked uninterested and unmotivated at times, the Raider defense consistently rose up and played well, even when put into tough situations.
This isn't to say this group is ready to be a top 15, or even top 25 defense, put the potential is there and the improvement from week 1 to week 2 was noticeable.
A unit that continues to define itself with each play, Tech's defense undoubtedly won the game on Saturday repeatedly turning away the Wolf Pack from the end zone, including twice from inside the 30 yard line.
This unit is starting to live up to some of the hype that they had in the offseason. If they can live up to all of it before all is said and done, it could be a long year for Big XII offensive coordinators.