It may go against the grain in the Big 12, but the concept of needing to step things up on defense may be starting to spread. Texas head coach Charlie Strong suggested this weekend the only way the Longhorns would be able to compete for a Big 12 title in 2014 would be to play great defense. Given his get tough act on the program recently, that makes plenty of sense, but one coach who is more known for his offensive tendencies is also getting on board with the defensive motivation in fall camp. Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury is mindful of just how important it will be this fall for his defense to get bigger and tougher.
“I think the biggest deal is getting those new defensive linemen acclimated to how we practice, how we play, understanding the schemes because they’ve got to come and play right away and they know that,” Kingsbury said when speaking with the media as fall camp opened Sunday (via Dallas Morning News). This was in response to Kingsbury’s first goal this fall camp.
Texas Tech was ranked seventh in the Big 12 in total defense last fall, allowing an average of 418.7 yards per game. The Red Raiders also allowed 30.8 points per game. Sometimes teams with the kind of offense Texas Tech offers will have some higher defensive numbers, but in a five-game losing streak last season Texas Tech allowed no fewer than 38 points in each game (38 @ Oklahoma, 52 vs. Oklahoma State, 49 vs. Kansas State, 63 vs. Baylor and 41 at Texas) and lost four of those games by double digit margins. If Texas Tech is going to climb the Big 12 ladder, that is a trend that needs to be reversed against programs they are trying to catch in the conference. Perhaps it starts with the attitude, which appears to be changing.
“This is a group of violent people — very, very violent people,” defensive end Branden Jackson said of the newcomers to The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “It’s kind of scary sometimes when we get out there and we’re just doing things that are non-contact, but these guys play full-speed all the time.”
Nobody expects Texas Tech to turn into Michigan State or Stanford on defense this season, but if they could play more like UCLA or Ohio State, that would be a good start.