Big 12: Aundrey Barr

DALLAS -- After navigating his way through his first season in the Big 12 in 2010, Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville knows what the Red Raiders will have to do to be better.

"It's all about depth and speed on defense," Tuberville said. "You don't really have to worry about size. You worry about quickness and speed. I've always believed in that anyway. That's the type of defense I've been around."

Tuberville's first Texas Tech defense was one of the worst in his long coaching career. A former defensive coordinator at Miami and head coach at Ole Miss and Auburn, Tuberville built his best teams around stingy defenses.

But largely because of injuries and suspensions, the Red Raiders were woefully inept on defense in 2010. Texas Tech finished No. 118 nationally in pass defense (293.8 yards per game), 114th in total defense (456.3 yards) and 93rd in scoring defense (30.9 points).

The Red Raiders never had a full complement of players on defense in 2010. Senior cornerback LaRon Moore missed the first four games because of a broken leg; junior defensive end Scott Smith was suspended for the season after four games; and end Aundrey Barr missed the final nine games with a knee injury.

Tuberville hopes the addition of former TCU defensive backs coach Chad Glasgow, who is installing the Horned Frogs' vaunted 4-2-5 scheme as the Red Raiders' new defensive coordinator, will help shore up some of Tech's defensive problems.

"With the type of players that you play against and the formations [you face in the Big 12], you have to run a lot of nickel defenses," Tuberville said. "You play Oklahoma, you play Texas A&M last year, they just run you down. It kind of reminds me of defenses I've been part of when we've had good success. That's how you win championships; it's not with anything else other than the speed on defense."
We've tackled every other spot, and now we'll wrap up out Big 12 position rankings with the defensive lines across the Big 12.

Here are the rest of the position rankings.
Now that we've finished ranking the complete units, we'll start ranking the top 10 at each position very soon leading into the 2011 season.

This is a decent position for the Big 12 this season, and the top half of the league should feel pretty good about their group. There aren't many studs in this group, but there are a whole lot of solid players.

Brad Madison
AP Photo/Pat SullivanMissouri has one of the Big 12's best pass rushers in Brad Madison.
1. Missouri -- Missouri has the Big 12's best returning pass rusher and a Defensive Player of the Year contender in Brad Madison, but its depth is what lands it on top of the list. Jacquies Smith is solid at the opposite defensive end spot, and Michael Sam and Kony Ealy provide great depth at DE. Dominique Hamilton's absence last season hurt after breaking his ankle against Oklahoma, but he's back, alongside Terrell Resonno. Sheldon Richardson, who may be transferring from junior college, is a wildcard that could be anywhere between a complete game changer, irrelevant or absent.

2. Oklahoma -- Oklahoma's defensive tackles are somewhat suspect, but the defensive end combo of Ronnell Lewis (provided he is eligible come fall camp) and Frank Alexander is on par with the best in the Big 12. Both were preseason All-Big 12 selections, but Jamarkus McFarland needs to make good on his potential. Stacy McGee and Casey Walker should both get time at the other tackle spot.

3. Texas -- Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat is loaded with potential as the nation's former No. 1 recruit. He had a big impact early last season before being slowed by an ankle injury. Alex Okafor moved outside from defensive tackle just before spring and had five sacks in the spring game. Inside, Kheeston Randall is an All-Big 12 favorite, but Ashton Dorsey had a strong spring and could help out with Reggie Wilson opposite Randall.

4. Texas A&M -- The Aggies have one of the best linemen in the league in Tony Jerod-Eddie, but Jonathan Mathis, Eddie Brown Jr. and Ben Bass have a lot to prove around him after the loss of Lucas Patterson, who was outstanding in 2010.

5. Texas Tech -- Sam Fehoko has moved to defensive end from middle linebacker, and should provide some good speed to the front line. Scott Smith looked on his way to an All-Big 12 campaign last season, but was suspended for the remainder of the season by coach Tommy Tuberville and has yet to be officially reinstated. For now, Dartwan Bush and Aundrey Barr will help out at defensive end, outside of Donald Langley, Kerry Hyder and Pearlie Graves. The Red Raiders did snatch a big pickup from departed UNC signee Delvon Simmons, a defensive tackle that could have an impact immediately.

6. Oklahoma State -- Defensive line is the biggest weak spot for the Cowboys, who have a decent set of ends in Jamie Blatnick and former heralded recruit Richetti Jones, but an even bigger question mark at defensive tackle where Christian Littlehead and Nigel Nicholas enter fall camp as starters.

7. Kansas -- Top rusher turned defensive end Toben Opurum came on strong late last season and should be one of the most exciting Jayhawks to watch in 2011, but the rest of the line leaves a bit to be desired. Keba Agostino has the other starting spot at defensive end ahead of Pat Lewandowski, who had a great spring. Patrick Dorsey and John Williams enter fall camp as starters at defensive tackles.

8. Kansas State -- K-State recruited this position hard in its 2011 class. For now, defensive end Brandon Harold will try to bounce back from a disappointing 2010 after a promising 2009. Lance Dunbar and Taylor Martinez think this group is ranked too high, but Meshak Williams could start opposite Harold, while Ray Kibble and Raphael Guidry should be the tackles inside.

9. Baylor -- Tevin Elliott was limited this spring because of offseason shoulder surgery, and Terrance Lloyd exited spring practice as the starter, but I'd expect Elliott to regain the spot by the time the season arrives. Phil Taylor, a first-round pick, is a big loss, but Gary Mason Jr. will try to fill his spot next to Nicolas Jean-Baptiste.

10. Iowa State -- Having a pair of linebackers combine for 241 tackles is a good and bad thing. They've got outstanding linebackers, but the defensive line was the Big 12's worst last season for a unit that ranked 10th in rush defense and had just 11 sacks. That was the fewest sacks in the Big 12 and more than just three teams in all of college football. The good news is all four starters return, but for now, this is where the Cyclones start. Stephen Ruempolhamer has some promise, but Cleyon Laing, Jake McDonough and ends Patrick Neal and Roosevelt Maggitt have a lot to prove. Jacob Lattimer ran into offseason trouble, but re-appeared atop the depth chart released by the Cyclones on Wednesday.

Red Raiders' defense on the mend

March, 24, 2011
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LUBBOCK, Texas -- Last season, exactly two teams in college football defended the pass worse than Texas Tech. The Red Raiders ranked last in the Big 12 and 118th in college football, giving up more than 293 yards a game.

Within that, the Red Raiders were one of just two teams to give up at least 150 pass plays of longer than 10 yards.

"We just got outran," said coach Tommy Tuberville. "That’s the bottom line."

Solution one: The Red Raiders need more speed. Part of that comes with recruiting. Tuberville addressed the need in his 2011 class, recruiting a handful of pass-rushers to provide more depth.

[+] EnlargeCody Davis
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireSafety Cody Davis (16) is hoping a simplified scheme will help improve the Texas Tech defense.
That depth is the other half of fixing the problem. Injuries were a constant, including two contributors in the secondary just before the season began.

But those injuries meant freshmen on the field, defensive tackles trying to play defensive end and even a few offensive players moving to the defensive side of the ball.

"It didn’t look good for us early, but if guys kept getting hurt, we’d have really been in trouble," Tuberville said. "We’d have ended up with Taylor Potts playing safety."

Two of the team's best pass-rushers played early, Aundrey Barr (knee) and Scott Smith (suspension) missed the majority of the season, which didn't do the defense's back line any favors.

"The main thing for us next year is if we can stay healthy and get playing time underneath our belt, there’s potential," Tuberville said. "A lot of them just don’t have a clue what they’re doing."

The hope is that changes this year with new defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow, who came from TCU as one of the nation's best secondary coaches. Most welcome, he came preaching simplicity.

"We were confused about some calls and everybody didn’t know what everybody else was doing, so simplifying this should be better this year," said safety Cody Davis, second on the team with 87 tackles last year. "Everybody should know what they’re doing."

Glasgow is also implementing a 4-2-5 that will put more defensive backs on the field.

"I think it fits us very well because we have so much experience at safety and lack of depth elsewhere," Davis said.

For immediate help changing that, Tuberville brought in Leon Mackey and Dennell Wesley, a pair of junior college defensive linemen.

"They’re a little older guys. They’re not like big-eyed 17-year-olds coming in," Tuberville said. "You throw them up against a Big 12 team in the first month, at least you’ve got a little experience."

Despite the defensive struggles, Texas Tech still managed to win eight games, but to tally any more than that, it'll have to stay on the same page, healthy and in front of high-powered Big 12 offenses which got behind it all too often in 2010.

"We didn’t have near enough speed to compete this year, and it showed up," Tuberville said. "We had some good players, but we just didn’t have enough of them."

Lunch links: Big 12 QB turns 27

October, 14, 2010
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I like rising and firing as much as the next guy, and the same goes for doing things "AT THE BUZZER!," but that doesn't mean I'll wear a shirt to remind people of it.

Fresh Faces: Texas Tech

June, 30, 2010
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Today we'll start a new series highlighting players with low profiles conference-wide with a good chance to change that this fall. Up first, the Red Raiders.

Harrison Jeffers and Eric Stephens, RB

Texas Tech's depth at running back has gotten some mention on the blog, and Jeffers and Stephens are the reasons why. They'll be star Baron Batch's backups this season, but could be budding stars themselves. Last season, they combined to rush for 571 yards on 84 carries (6.8 yards per carry). With Texas Tech planning on running the ball more than they have for a decade, Jeffers and Stephens should be the beneficiaries.

Justin Keown, C

It might be odd to put a senior on this list, but Keown received his first big chunks of meaningful playing time last season. Then, this spring, he beat out Chris Olson, who finished the season as the starting left tackle, to win the starting center job. Keown filled in well for Stephen Hamby when the starter was injured periodically in 2009, and has a good chance to become a staple at the position for the entire season with a solid fall camp.

Sam Fehoko, LB

Fehoko, a former defensive end, beat out freshman Brandon Mahoney to win a starting spot next to the established Brian Duncan and Bront Bird heading into his junior season. Fehoko could still have some tough competition from redshirt freshman Aundrey Barr -- Duncan's backup on the edge of the 3-4 -- if Barr moves to a spot inside, but Fehoko's experience should give him the edge. Fehoko made 19 tackles last season and that number will definitely grow in 2010 if he enters the season with a firm grasp on the starting position.

Lunch links: Huskers' Hagg makes 'Peso' click

April, 6, 2010
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Big 12 recruiting tidbits: Stoops visits Randle's home

January, 30, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

National Signing Day is five days away with the most important recruiting weekend of the season approaching at many schools. Here are a few of the late stories that people across the Big 12 are talking about.

  • Top wide receiving prospect Rueben Randle is headed to Auburn this weekend, even though he doesn't count the Tigers among his finalists, the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer's Andy Bitter reports. Randle's finalists are presumed to be LSU, Oklahoma and Alabama. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops made an in-home visit to Randle on Thursday night.
  • There's a reason why Colorado coach Dan Hawkins doesn't like to publicize his recruiting lists until after signing day, according to the Rocky Mountain News' B.G. Brooks.
  • Keller (Texas) linebacker Brandon Mahoney, an early commitment to Oklahoma who is still weighing other options, will be among a group of players visiting Texas Tech this weekend. Others include Carrollton Newman Smith defensive end Aundrey Barr, Longview defensive end Chris Knighton and Blinn College kicker Brad Hicks, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reporter Don Williams writes.
  • Baylor picked up a verbal commitment from Houston Stratford defensive end Terrance Lloyd, who reneged on an earlier commitment from Missouri, Waco Tribune-Herald reporter John Werner writes.
  • Nebraska has pulled its scholarship offer to linebacker Shawn Bodtmann of West Scranton (Pa.) High School after he struggled with injuries during his senior season, Mitch Sherman of the Omaha World-Herald writes. Mike DeAntona, Bodtmann's high school coach, said the Cornhuskers' practice was unethical.
  • Terry Hawthorne of East St. Louis, Ill., named by Parade Magazine as the nation's top high school receiver, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Stu Durando that he's now considering Oklahoma along with Illinois.
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell defends Missouri commitment St. Louis Gateway Tech defensive lineman/tight end Sheldon Richardson's opportunity to make a late recruiting visit to Miami on the weekend before National Signing Day.

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