Texas Tech’s defensive front has struggled to generate havoc plays
Texas Tech’s offense has actually been more efficient than the offense this season, despite its success running the ball in Big 12 play with Brooks. According to FEI adjusted ratings, Texas Tech has the 54th-ranked offense in the FBS and the 25th-ranked defense this season.
Tech’s ability to stop the run on defense while limiting big plays has yielded one of the top 25 units in the nation on this side of the ball this fall.
Led by senior safeties Dadrion Taylor-Demerson and Malik Dunlap, Texas Tech has done a nice job of keeping the play in front of them this season in the secondary. Per CFB Stats, Texas Tech ranks 26th in the FBS in the number of explosive plays allowed of 20 yards or more on defense. By comparison, Texas ranks 37th in the FBS in explosive plays allowed on defense this season, so Texas Tech is a bit better in that regard.
One aspect that Texas Tech has given up by playing it safe on defense to keep plays in front of them is yards and easy completions on shorter developing routes. Texas Tech has allowed an opponent completion percentage of over 62 percent in Big 12 play, which ranks in the bottom half of the conference.
Along the defensive front, Texas Tech has done well stopping opponent’s run games. But Tech has struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Red Raiders lost their leading pass rusher from last season, All-Big 12 edge rusher Tyree Wilson. And while they did return defensive tackle Tony Bradford Jr. and EDGE Jesiah Pierre this fall, they haven’t been as effective in the absence of Wilson, and with defensive tackle Jaylon Hutchings missing some time due to an injury recently.
Texas Tech’s inability to consistently generate a pass rush has hampered their ability to defend the pass, too. And those issues could get worse if Texas Tech is missing Hutchings against the Longhorns this week.
Texas Tech ranks in the bottom half of the Big 12 in pressure and sack rates in conference play this season.
Ewers should have plenty of time in the pocket to pick apart this Texas Tech defense in the passing game. Texas Tech has performed pretty well in pass coverage this season, at least compared to the rest of the Big 12 defenses, but it will have a difficult time dealing with all the weapons Ewers has at his disposal. Defending junior receivers Adonai Mitchell and Xavier Worthy, along with junior tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders is a lot to ask of this Tech secondary.
All told, Texas Tech has struggled to generate havoc plays since they play a lot of lighter boxes on defense and are missing their leading pass rusher from last season. Texas Tech could be missing some key defenders due to injuries on defense, including Taylor-Demerson, senior safety and former Longhorn Tyler Owens, and potentially Hutchings.
The Tech defense has definitely improved in some areas and is an above-average group in the Big 12. But the mounting injuries in the secondary and to Hutchings along the defensive line, combined with the inability to generate havoc plays will limit what Tech can do to stifle Texas’ weapons on offense.