Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has said several times that the proliferation of spread-passing offenses makes giving up yards inevitable, so his goal is to force turnovers and limit teams to field goals.
Tech came up with no turnovers Friday, but tough red-zone defense was key to the team’s 41-23 victory Friday at SMU.
“At times, we were really stingy,” defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt said Monday, “especially in the red zone. Our guys were bowing their neck and playing aggressive and not giving up touchdowns.”
There were four instances in which SMU had first downs inside the Tech 15-yard line, but came away with three field goals. In the first instance, safety Tre Porter caused a fumble on third down that bounced out of bounds. On the second occasion, linebackers Will Smith and Terrance Bullitt thwarted the Mustangs with back-to-back sacks.
A holding penalty wiped out an SMU touchdown in the third instance. The last came in the final seconds. SMU had first-and-goal from the 5, and cornerback Theirry Nguema tackled a receiver at the 1 as the game ended.
Tech allowed 490 yards, but mostly tackled well.
“I was really kind of surprised, to be honest with you,” Wallerstedt said, “because it’s a spread game that they presented us, a lot of open space. Our guys did a solid job. We did not have a lot of missed tackles. We were good at the point of contact and we were good running to the ball. So if we did miss, we had a lot of hats.”
Wallerstedt said inside linebacker Will Smith and Porter had outstanding games.
The team’s three-season high of five sacks also helped. There were times when Tech pass rushers had a free run at SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert, an indication that Wallerstedt’s plan to show multiple looks and calls worked.
“We’re going to move our fronts around like we’ve talked about since we’ve been here,” Wallerstedt said. “Try to cause confusion with the offensive line. Try to cause confusion with protections. Try to cause confusion with the quarterback.
“(With) some of that, there were some guys that came clean. We’ve just got to do a better job of finishing when we’re in the backfield and act like we’ve been there.”