Linebacker Ben Roberts has to be stout in the middle of the Texas Tech defense
It won’t be an easy first career start for redshirt freshman inside linebacker Ben Roberts on Saturday. With Jacob Rodriguez out 4-6 weeks and Jesiah Pierre sliding into Rodriguez’s spot, Roberts has the opportunity to start in arguably the biggest game of the year.
We know almost nothing about him as a player, though. He had only one tackle against Wyoming but was credited with 0.5 sacks. That’s about all the career stats he’s ever amassed.
Last season, he saw action in only two games with both appearances being only on special teams. Now he has to be a critical member of the defense against one of the top rushing teams in the country.
In game one, Oregon rushed for 348 yards against Portland State, which is nice but is not going to stop the presses. However, in 2022, the Ducks averaged 215.8 yards per game on the ground, 12th most in the entire country and third in the PAC-12.
Expect the Ducks to send plenty of traffic at Roberts to see if the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Haslet, Texas native can hold up. It will also be interesting to see if he can handle the mental aspect of the position.
What’s more, without Rodriguez on the field, the Red Raider defense looked out of sync and vulnerable against Wyoming. Hopefully, that won’t continue on Saturday.
Will Roberts make the correct reads and be in the places he is expected to be? That was a problem for a number of Texas Tech defenders against Wyoming according to the coaching staff so it is going to be imperative that everyone on the defense plays a disciplined game in that sense, including Roberts.
Last week, while playing the position that Roberts will man against Oregon, Pierre racked up a team-high 14 tackles. No one is asking Roberts to replicate that performance (though if he wants to, he is more than welcome) but the redshirt freshman will need to be solid in his first start. He can’t be a liability and when tested, he’s going to have to answer the bell.