Dec 28, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive tackle Dennell Wesley (96) makes a tackle on Minnesota Golden Gophers running back Rodrick Williams Jr. (35) during the first quarter of the Car Care Bowl at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Red Raider Defense searches for Identity

In a game with Texas Tech, you can expect that the offense will light up the scoreboard and conversely you can expect the defense to be lit up as well. While the offense has their identity firmly established, the defense struggles year after year to find their own.

Just in the past four years, Tech has run the 4-3, 3-4, 4-2-5, the 4-3 a second time and now this year they will run the 3-4 scheme again. That isn’t the best way to establish a defensive identity for your program. Year after year the Red Raiders defense has struggled to live up to its counterpart’s fame.  Frequent shoot outs have been lost because the defense failed to get a stop.

One such memorable moment was from the 2007 season in a game vs. Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders lost a high scoring affair because the defense let up 49 points and this led to the defensive coordinator being fired and a tongue lashing by former head coach Mike Leach to his players.

Last year, the defense actually performed better than expected bringing their total defensive ranking to 36th in Division 1 football, but it was still not enough to stop the offensive stalwarts in the Big 12. Stops are needed to win games and those are very rarely seen from a Tech defense.

Oct 20, 2012; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders safety D.J. Johnson (12) makes a leaping interception during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Texas Tech won 56-53. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Change was needed for the whole staff and on the defensive end Matt Wallerstedt was hired to bring in an identity on defense. Coming in as linebackers coach from Texas A&M and a former defensive coordinator from the Air Force academy, his record isn’t as reputable as you would want.

His numbers at Air Force were not too spectacular in two years. From 2010 to 2011, the team’s total defense fell from 37th to 65th. Their passing defense fell from 2nd to 7th and their rushing defense went from 103rd to 109th. Talent wasn’t big at Air Force, but if you compare those numbers to 2009 when Tom DeRuyter ran things the Falcons had the 47th ranked rush defense, 5th pass defense and the 11th ranked total defense.

With that said, Coach Wallerstedt has a lot of energy and enthusiasm that he brings to the team. When you don’t have the talent or the right schemes, good energetic coaching can influence a team.  That is crucial for a young squad that is eager to buy into what he is trying to teach them.

Recruiting is also a major issue they need to tackle. They need to recruit some major play-makers on the defensive side of the ball. Thanks to the Air Raid, you will always get talented quarterbacks and receivers but they need to help the other side of the ball. Schemes and coaching only get you so far, talent in the end can’t be beat.

The Red Raiders will have a lot of challenges this year but it will be on the defense to determine if they go far this year. In order to do that, they need establish their identity first and foremost.

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