Texas will welcome Texas Tech to Austin on Friday as the Longhorns search for their 7th win of the season. The Red Raiders are coming off of a loss to TCU and are still in search of their 6th win of the season and a bowl berth. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Texas Tech defense and special teams.
Texas Tech will operate out of several defensive fronts, but will play 4 primary defensive lineman. Senior defensive end Zach Barnes has 1.5 sacks and 3 quarterback hurries on the season. Nose Tackle Mychealon Thomas will serve as a run stuffer in the middle, and has added 2 fumble recoveries and a sack. Defensive Tackle Broderick Washington has also added 2 sacks. Rush End Lorenzo Gilmer has 2 tackles for loss on the season. The Red Raiders defensive line has not been disruptive this season, but they have been more productive than past defensive lines that have struggled. Tech ranks in the upper half of FBS teams in rush defense, only allowing 157 rushing yards per game. Eli Howard will also see some time at defensive end. Howard leads the defense in tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (5.5)
The key for the Texas offense will be slowing down WILL linebacker Dakota Allen. Allen returned to Texas Tech after a season at East Mississippi Community College. In 2017, Allen ranks second of the team in tackles (80), and has added 4.5 tackles for loss and 2 interceptions. Fellow linebacker Jordyn Brooks had an excellent 2016 season and has responded with a good 2017 season. Brooks ranks third on the team in tackles with 76, along with 4 quarterback hurries and an interception.
Desmon Smith and Octavious Morgan will man the two corner positions. The duo has played well at times this year, but overall the secondary has struggled mightily against the pass, rankings towards the bottom in the country in passing yards allowed per game. Smith is a junior college transfer who is in his first season, while Morgan is in his first full season as a starter after seeing playing time in a reserve role a season ago. Douglas Coleman will serve as the nickelback.
Jah’Shawn Johnson is one of the most physical safeties in the Big 12. The junior leads the team with 82 tackles and is considered one of the leaders of the defense. Fellow safety Vaughnte Dorsey is another junior college transfer who is in his first season as a starter.
Kliff Kinsgbury joked during his weekly news conference that he has considered going for it on every 4th down considering the Red Raiders kicking woes. Texas Tech has had 4(!) kickers attempt field goals this season, and they have combined for 8 makes on 20 attempts. Last week, Clayton Hatfield missed a 20 yard field goal against TCU.
Punter Dominic Panazzolo is averaging 41.5 yards per punt and has pinned opponents inside the 20 yard line 13 times.
Cameron Batson will serve as the return man on kickoffs and punts. Batson is averaging 22 yards per kickoff return and 4.5 yards per punt return.
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