Texas Tech Football: Five reasons for optimism in 2018

LUBBOCK, TX - SEPTEMBER 18: Fans of the Texas Tech Red Raiders cheer against the Texas Longhorns at Jones AT
LUBBOCK, TX - SEPTEMBER 18: Fans of the Texas Tech Red Raiders cheer against the Texas Longhorns at Jones AT /
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(Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Weast/Getty Images) /

Putting the “D” back in the Red Raiders

It was only two years ago, that the Texas Tech defense was the laughing stock of the college football world.  Finishing last in the nation in total defense in 2016 and second-to-last the previous season, Texas Tech lost four games in those two seasons in which it scored at least 50 points.

But those two years were critical because they were the first two seasons under current defensive coordinator David Gibbs.  Coming into Lubbock, Gibbs was handed a dumpster fire on his side of the ball and he chose to build his defense the right way; by playing young players and developing them on the field rather than trying to use “rat trap” defensive schemes (his term) to mask his player’s deficiencies.

That plan appears to have worked out.  Tech now boasts a legitimate college football defense.

While no one will confuse this year’s defense with Clemson’s, there are finally Big 12 caliber athletes at every position on the two-deep defensive rotation.  That is a stark contrast to Gibbs first two years when, as he said last night on the Kliff Kingsbury radio show, they were simply putting eleven warm bodies on the field in his first two seasons.

Tech features a trio of linebackers that are arguably the best in the Big 12.  When was the last time such a claim could be made in Lubbock?  The Red Raiders have struggled to find even adequate linebackers almost yearly during the “Air Raid” era so for Tech to now have the problem of figuring out how to get all of its quality linebackers on the field, is a welcome change.

Along the defensive line, Tech features more depth and size than we have seen in the Kingsbury era and perhaps beyond.  Broderick Washington, Joe Wallace, Preston Gordon and Nick McCann form what should be a formidable tackle rotation capable of doing battle with even the best of offensive lines.

And in the secondary, Gibbs can throw quality athletes out on the field in waves helping to combat the high-powered Big 12 offenses.  Tech is led by an all-Big 12 safety in Jah’Shawn Johnson and has surrounded him with big and physical playmakers like Justus Parker, Vaughnte Dorsey, John Bonney, Des Smith and Damarcus Fields.

David Gibbs is a brutally honest man who pulls no punches.  He has been openly critical about his defenses in the past, and rightfully so.  But this year, he continues to use the phrase “things have changed” when he speaks of his defense and that alone is reason for optimism.