Texas Tech football: 3 ways the Red Raider defense can improve from week one

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The pom squad for the Texas Tech Red Raiders occupies socially distant their seats during warmups before the college football game against the Houston Baptist Huskies on September 12, 2020 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

The Texas Tech defense was woefully bad in week one but there are ways it can improve.  Here’s how.

If the 2020 Texas Tech football season is going to come anywhere close to being a success, the defensive fiasco that we saw Saturday night against Houston Baptist can’t be a weekly occurrence.  After all, it was one of the worst defensive showings we’ve seen in the last two decades of the program.

The Red Raiders allowed an FCS team to gain a whopping 600 yards of offense, allowed a freshman receiver to go off for 209 yards, and allowed an FCS QB to pass for 567 yards and four TDs.   Unfortunatley, this was just the latest defensive dumpster fire that we’ve had to witness in the history of Tech football.

Of course, no one could forget the night in 2016 when the Red Raiders scored 55 points against Arizona State and still lost the game by 13 points.  In that contest, Tech allowed ASU running back Kalen Ballage to run for seven TDs and 137 yards while also catching another touchdown pass.

Later that year, the Red Raiders gave up 66 points to Oklahoma in Lubbock to lose by seven.  In that now-iconic shootout between Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield, the Tech defense allowed Mayfield to throw for 545 yards and 7 TDs while also surrendering 263 yards and a pair of TDs on the ground to running back Joe Mixon.  Oh, and they also let wide receiver Dede Westbrook catch 9 passes for 202 yards and two scores of his own.

Back in 2014, TCU put up video game numbers on offense when they embarrassed the Red Raiders 82-27.  That afternoon in Fort Worth, the home team amassed 785 yards of offense and likely could have gone over the 1,000-yard mark had Gary Patterson not mercifully tried to run out the clock over the final 15 minutes of the game.

But it hasn’t been just Power 5 opponents that have run roughshod over the Red Raiders in recent years.  For instance, in 2015, FCS team Sam Houston State racked up 637 yards of offense, 317 on the ground, in a 59-45 loss.

A year prior, another FCS team, Central Arkansas, amassed 408 yards as they nearly pulled off the upset in a 42-35 Tech win.  Or how about in 2016 when Louisiana Tech rolled its way to 572 yards in a 59-45 shootout loss in Lubbock.

However, it is tough to remember any time when the Texas Tech defense was more humiliated than it was on Saturday night.  Facing an FCS team coming off a 5-win season, Tech looked helpless to stop the Huskies and that is why Red Raider fans are so pessimistic about the rest of the 2020 campaign.

The good news is that teams are allowed to get better as seasons progress.  So let’s look at what Tech can do to improve its defense enough to at least have a shot at producing a winning record.

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