Texas Tech's Duncan excelling in new role

September, 15, 2010
9/15/10
10:30
AM ET
Texas Tech linebacker Brian Duncan knew it was coming -- and quarterbacks knew he was coming.

When Tommy Tuberville arrived along with his blitz-happy coordinator James Willis Duncan moved to outside linebacker. He is now basically a defensive end in Willis' 3-4 scheme.

[+] EnlargeBrian Duncan
AP Photo/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal/Zach LongSwitching Brian Duncan to outside linebacker is really paying off for the Red Raiders.
After spending most of his career in coverage, he had half a sack to his name after two seasons. Through two games this season, Duncan leads the Big 12 with four, also good for a four-way tie at No. 1 nationally.

"It's really intense," Duncan says of the new role. "It's most definitely different going against O-linemen every single play. I love contact, I love football, I love defense, and to get a chance to go against those guys every play and get after sacks its all rewarding. I love that position."

Duncan estimates that he now draws the assignment of chasing quarterbacks on the majority of his snaps. Last year, he says, that number was about 15-20 percent.

It paid off early for the Red Raiders. Duncan already had one sack against SMU in the season opener. With the Mustangs driving down late, Duncan sacked quarterback Kyle Padron twice to secure the win.

"He’s got a really good start, teams depend on the pass to win games," Tuberville said. "He’ll be a difference maker."

Texas Tech will need him to be on Saturday against Texas where the Longhorns are starting first-year quarterback Garrett Gilbert.

"You move from a more complex position to a less complex position. It’s not as hard," Duncan said. "I’m going to get the QB every time, that’s basically it."

So far, he's proven to be pretty good at it.

"Every drive, excitement and adrenaline is pumping through me and it's even more exciting after I get a chance to make a play," Duncan adds. "Any contact is a great opportunity. I'm going to be hitting like crazy."

Sack masters like Jared Allen and Shawne Merriman in the NFL have perfected post-sack dances. Though Duncan hasn't figured his out yet, he says he's got something special planned against the Longhorns if he's able to bring Gilbert down. But for now, the time spent he used to spend memorizing coverages and complex schemes can be spent serving as a team leader and helping younger players -- a task Tuberville needs from his seniors.

"You don’t win games on Saturday, you win them during the week and by working hard and showing how much it means to you," Tuberville said. "It’s got to be relayed by the leaders of team, it can’t just be coaches."

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