Over the past decade, Texas Tech football has been identified by two characteristics on opposite sides of the spectrum: great offense and no defense. Tim DeRuyter became the program’s newest defensive coordinator shortly after Joey McGuire’s arrival. Former coordinator Keith Patterson formed a foundation the past three seasons, but now DeRuyter must help this unit take the next step as they continue to try to turn the corner.
The Red Raiders have finished near the bottom of the conference and even in the country in defense for the better part of the past several seasons. DeRuyter not only brought plenty of experience to the job, but also a reputation for creating turnovers. He even nicknamed his unit “Take Three University” because his goal is for the defense to create three turnovers per game. While this year’s team has only four fumbles recovered and two interceptions, both by Reggie Pearson, the Red Raiders have made stops when they needed to. Something that has been hard to come by in recent years.
Texas Tech forced two turnovers in their double overtime win over Houston and made a critical stop down the stretch the secure the win. Against Texas the formula continued. After a slow start, the defense helped keep Tech in the game by picking off Hudson Card and in overtime Krishon Merriweather stripped Bijan Robinson and Pearson recovered the ball. Tech kicked the game-winning field goal a few plays later.
The defense looked like they were well on their way to giving the Red Raiders a chance to win against Kansas State this past Saturday. After struggling mightily on offense in the first quarter, DeRuyter’s defense tightened. The Wildcats were held scoreless in the second quarter and Tech only trailed by three at halftime. Tech outscored Kansas State 10-7 in the third quarter to tie the game at 20 going into the fourth, but the defense wore out and struggled to stop Adrian Martinez and the Wildcat offense.
Despite the loss, DeRuyter’s defense deserves a lot of credit for keeping the Red Raiders in that game and their other wins so far this season. With the offense still struggling at times with Donovan Smith at quarterback, the defense will need to remain a critical part of the reason for this team’s success as the schedule continues to get more difficult.