The Red Raider defense will be the backbone of the team
The lazy and uninformed college football fan might not realize it but over the past few seasons, it has been the defense that has been the better side of the ball in Lubbock. That isn’t going to change in 2023.
While the lack of national prominence for the program and modest rankings when it comes to statistical categories such as yards allowed has prevented most on a national scale from taking stock of the defensive rebirth at Texas Tech, those who watch this program closely understand that the side of the ball that was once a joke for this program is now a legitimate strength.
This fall, the defense will return eight starters including long-time program stalwarts Jaylon Hutchings and Tony Bradford along the d-line and starting corners Malik Dunlap and Rayshad Williams (two players who have the measurables to make a living on Sundays).
Additionally, a number of defensive players began to make a mark last year and are ready to take their games to the next level. Safety Tyler Owens could be an all-conference performer after working his way into the starting lineup late last season, his first at Tech after transferring from Texas.
Linebacker Jessiah Pierre will be replacing middle LB Krishon Merriweather and his physical tools suggest he could be a playmaker in the mold of recent Tech MLBs Collin Schooler, Jordyn Brooks, or Dakota Allen. Meanwhile, don’t be shocked to see defensive end Myles Cole become a household name this season. Filling the shoes of Tyree Wilson won’t be easy but he is actually bigger and has even longer arms than his predecessor. What’s more, he had a dominant spring leading many to believe that next spring, his name will also be called in the NFL Draft.
It really is remarkable the waves of talent Tech now has on that side of the football. While the assumption that this defense will be one of the best in the conference is built on the faith in some emerging players to take the next step, the reality is that the sheer number of highly-skilled and supremely-gifted athletes on the defensive side of the ball almost guarantees that the answers to all of the offseason’s questions are in place and ready to make their mark.
There was a time in 2015 and 2016 when Tech has the worst defense in the nation. While Pat Mahomes was putting up eye-popping numbers with his arm, people used to laugh at and mock the Red Raiders for their ineptitude on the opposite side of the ball. Those days are over, even if the national media doesn’t realize it. In 2023, Texas Tech’s defensive renaissance will continue and that unit could be one of the best we’ve seen this program produce since the turn of the century.