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Tuberville expects better play from defensive line

Depth chart

Posted: August 4, 2012 - 11:21pm  |  Updated: August 5, 2012 - 1:03am
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Jackson  Michael Strong Photography
Michael Strong Photography
Jackson
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After finishing last in the nation at defending the run last year, Texas Tech ought to be better in that regard this season. The Red Raiders might even surprise some folks if they make the kind of improvement head coach Tommy Tuberville thinks they can.

“Fifty percent better. Sixty percent better,” Tuberville said.

The Red Raiders report today to get the ball rolling on the new football season. Their first practice is Monday.

Tech fortified its linebacker corps after last season by adding junior-college transfers Will Smith and Chris Payne to the two-deep and moving Terrance Bullitt up a level from safety.

But any big steps forward will have to start with the defensive line, a group that got pushed around a lot last season.

“We’ve got three deep now,” Tuberville said, “and we haven’t been one-deep since we’ve been here. That’s an area that we’re much improved, if we can stay healthy.”

Tech resisted the temptation to play freshman signee Branden Jackson in 2011. Now 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, he’s 20 pounds heavier than last August and holding down a starting spot at one defensive end. His high school teammate Delvon Simmons (6-5, 290) got thrown into the fire as a true freshman and is emerging as a defensive tackle.

Tackle Kerry Hyder (6-2, 281) and end Dartwan Bush (6-1, 256), both juniors, were the best players in a bad front four last season. Hyder’s 42 tackles were fifth-most on the team and tops among linemen. Bush showed playmaking ability with four caused fumbles, two sacks, two pass breakups and two fumble recoveries.

The good plays from the front four, though, were too few and far between.

Tuberville said better depth should help. Upperclassmen Leon Mackey (6-5, 260) and Dennell Wesley (6-1, 286) will be part of the rotation inside. Young ends Jackson Richards (6-4, 250), Kindred Evans (6-3, 239) and Pete Robertson (6-3, 222) have potential.

Among true freshmen, Anthony Smith (5-10, 312) from Spring Westfield will compete for time at tackle. Michael Starts from Waco La Vega was a top national recruit, and he’s now carrying 303 pounds on a 6-4 frame. Starts will play end for Tech, but Tuberville said the depth has improved to the point Starts might be able to redshirt.

“There’s a difference between a high-school player and a guy who’s been (in college) for one year,” Tuberville said. “Branden Jackson, this time last year wasn’t ready to play. They don’t know how hard to play, how to study film. You put them out there like Delvon (last year), you’re going to get whipped. You’ve got to have experience in your front four guys.”

After a year in the program, though, coaches have high hopes for Jackson and Simmons.

Tuberville said Jackson “can run, rush the passer, is athletic.”

“We haven’t had any of those,” he added.

New defensive coordinator Art Kaufman said Simmons “has a chance to be a really, really good player.”

Kaufman came to Tech in January from North Carolina. He said when he watched video of Tech’s 2011 games, he paid less attention to what the Red Raiders were doing on defense than how Big 12 opponents were trying to attack them. He wanted to know the plays that were used most often and most successfully against Tech.

He didn’t form too many impressions of the players he inherited.

“It looked like to me they were a big movement team here last year, as far as stunting and things like that,” Kaufman said. “We’ll do that when the time is called for. But I thought fundamentally, there were things we needed to improve. I’m sure a lot of the lack of fundamentals was due to a lack of experience.”

Kaufman spent spring practice then emphasizing the foundation for the mostly young defensive linemen he inherited.

“If you’re an attack guy and you’ve got to play with your hands, how do you play with your hands? How do you attack? What are the mechanics of it?” Kaufman said. “That’s bigger than anything else.

For defensive tackles, he said, “How do you come out of your hips, fit your hands, move your feet, press the block? Are those things being done? If those things aren’t being done, the rest of it doesn’t matter.”

Depth chart

Texas Tech’s defensive line depth chart at the beginning of preseason workouts:

LE: Branden Jackson, Fr.; Kindred Evans, Fr.

LT: Kerry Hyder, Jr.; Leon Mackey, Sr.; Donte Phillips, Fr.

RT: Delvon Simmons, So.; Dennell Wesley, Jr.; Lee Adams, Jr.

RE: Dartwan Bush, Jr.; Jackson Richards, So.; Pete Robertson, Fr.

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6
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This is the key!

Yep it all starts with blocking and tackling. Basically whoever does that best wins more games. This third year we will finally be able to reap some of what we have sown what with the young players we now have and their great size and abilities. Switching to the 4-3 is great IMO for defending most Big XII teams most of the time. Sure we' ll use nickle backs a bunch and now we got em galore.

With the depth we have and utilizing the 4-3 I bet Coach Kaufman will see our defense in the top 60 of the NCAA stats. Thats much better than 120 something and what we are used to the whole time Whitlock was here and we ran the 4-3.

With Doege and company having a comparable year as the D I sure could see us going 8-4 and 9-3 if we are lucky. But somebody needs to rise to the top at running back if that happens. Are you listening Kenny Williams???

4
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Players

It was good to see updated sizes on some of the players. I guess they could change again up until the season starts. I like seeing the added weight on the d-line.....and hopefully they retain their quickness. All in all, it does look a little better than last year. I think the biggest impact will be the coaching. Looking forward to a new season!

2
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Having an experienced coach

Having an experienced coach at D-coordinator will be the most improvement IMO. He'll be able to make adjustments the prior coaches just didn't have the experience at doing. I agree with Flash Lite, if the D does improve to the mid 60's ranks, we could be bowling with a 8 win season.

2
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hope

I hope you are right, but I have real concerns about this team.

2
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you can be a 4 star player

& not be ready to play. When you have a lot of "green" players, experienced players take advantage of that. We will be better this season. We are bigger, & experienced. I think Delvon Simmons will turn it on this season & play up to his potential. Retd_investor what are your concerns?

4
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I am concerned with the

I am concerned with the defense bigtime. I think Kaufman will help tremendously on that side of the ball... similiar to what Wade Phillips did in Houston. That having been said, a good pass rush makes the linebackers and DB's look a whole lot better.

Something that is encouraging is that Kaufman is the guy Tuberville wanted originally for the DC...have had success in the past together, etc.. its unfortunate tech had to go thru 2 DC's to get to him but the past is the past and things look good moving forward

1
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Concerns

The defense was extremely weak last year. Even with some improvement they may not be good enough to win more than half their games. I am a big Raider fan but I don't feel very good about this team. Nothing specific.

4
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Retd_investor....

You can have a statistically weak defense in football but still win games. It's all about two categories defensively: turnovers and pts. You can gain all the yards you wish, so long as you just don't cross the goal-line. Make them kick field-goals and we'll win. Look at Oklahoma State and Baylor for examples. Statistically their defense wasn't great, they were good...but not great. What made it effective was they got off the field ASAP with turnovers. That's what we need in a defense....to get off the field.

0
2

Hate To Mention The Truth......

Folks, starting three freshmen up front precludes success.

By the way, anybody on this thread know what an ARVN is?

Let me know.

1
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retd_investor

i cant argue with your comment but this article should give you a little hope that the defense should be improved

0
2

Unfortunately

All we have is hope, retd. After a few wins over real teams, hopefully that hope will turn into expectations.

2
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Bound to be better

There's no way this team isn't better than last year. Just the coaching change with the d-coordinator makes them better. There is good new talent coming in (albeit young) and it is highly unlikely we experience the same level of injuries we experienced last year. Just the fact that the defense couldn't be worse than last year makes them better. How do you get worse than worse??

1
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@facts are made up

Learn how to read a depth chart before posting on a depth chart.

1
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They dont have to be all world

Just decent is all we need. Last year if we had a defense with a pulse (75 or better) we win @mizzou, aTm, and K-State. If we have a top 50 defense we can win 10 games.

Simmons is ready and so is Wesley. 290 pounds a piece, ignore the weights listed, they are old.

0
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biggest problem with team is

biggest problem with team is you tubby.

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