Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Shifting identity for Red Raiders?
By ESPN.com staff ESPN.com
LUBBOCK, Texas -- Under Mike Leach, Texas Tech became synonymous with the spread offense. When the search for his replacement began, few wanted that to change.
Importing offensive coordinator Neal Brown into Lubbock assured the wide-open offense would remain.
Defensive back LaRon Moore is excited about the Red Raiders' more aggressive scheme.
But with a defensive scheme shakeup taking place in the Red Raiders' spring practices, the Texas Tech defense wants to earn a reputation of its own.
"Right before Coach [Ruffin McNeill] left, he kept on saying, change the identity of the defense here," said defensive back LaRon Moore. "And I still text him and he still tells me make people change the way they think about the way we play."
Moore points to his 10 teammates on defense who helped rack up 27 sacks in eight conference games, four more than any team in the Big 12. Moore's math: Take the proven playmakers on defense, add a more disciplined but aggressive scheme and it could equal a change in how the rest of the country sees Texas Tech football.
"[The new coaches] are coming in and they’re changing to exactly what we wanted," Moore said. "I'm excited that we're going to be forcing the action. If we’re going to be a defense that holds people under 15 points a game, then we’re going to be a force to reckon with."
The Red Raiders defense gave up 22.5 points last season, good for sixth in the Big 12. And while the offense would surely welcome a drop in that number, it's seen plenty of its own progress already this spring. Texas Tech becoming synonymous with stingy defense won't happen overnight, but the offense could help it get there, preparing it daily for a conference loaded with spread offenses.
"We're playing with greater tempo," Brown said. "The defense has a hard time getting lined up, and the D-line can get tired, and we kind of turned the corner [in Saturday's scrimmage] a little bit."
And that's to be expected. But it doesn't mean the defense can't or won't catch up. Moore wants that change just like McNeill did. Just don't count on seeing it this spring. Moore doesn't.
"It’s going to take time," Moore said. "This program and the offense that was built started 10 years ago. With defense, you can't just do it in one game, you can’t do it one play or one quarter. It has to be consistency, and that’s what we’re going for right now."