January 24, 2012
Spring Look: Linebackers
How do things stand with the Red Raiders as they prepare for spring football? We will be breaking down the team position group by position group to give you a good idea of what to expect once Texas Tech opens practice on Feb. 17.
We continue with a look at the linebackers.
Lots of unproven talent
The Red Raiders have athletic linebackers, no question about that.
Cqulin Hubert and Daniel Cobb have made big plays in their Tech career and Sam Eguavoen and Blake Dees were true freshman that saw numerous starts together in lieu of Hubert and Cobb.
The problem is the linebacking corps' athleticism has not translated on the field of play with consistent stops.
The top four linebackers in Tech's cupboard were ineffective in stopping the run whether they were in the wrong position or missing the tackle. That has to change for Tech to have a better 2012 season on the defensive side of the ball.
There are several reasons to expect the group will improve.
Most notably, Hubert and Cobb will be juniors with two years of solid playing experience under them while Dees and Eguavoen have a full season under their belt.
Zach Winbush also looks like he's ready to make an impact after two years of being buried in the depth chart. Dion Chidoze also could be a wild card this season.
The linebackers should have less ground to cover individually this season with new defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Art Kaufman's 4-3 defensive scheme as opposed to last year's 4-2-5 scheme under Chad Glasgow.
In Kaufman's basic defense's form, there will be four down linemen and three linebackers primarily concerned with stopping the run. That's a full man more than last season and having another man up in the box could make a big difference.
Honestly, the 4-3 defense better fits Tech's personnel today.
Barring injuries, and Tech is still very thin on defense, there is enough personnel to utilize about eight defensive linemen and six linebackers to have a two-deep conducive to running the 4-3. The defense uses the strength of its linemen to plug holes and uses adequate linebackers to make the majority of tackles.
The 4-3 scheme itself should allow the Red Raider defense to improve slightly.
Kaufman has a track record of helping linebackers take their game to the next level, but an established coach at linebacker is a far cry from having a graduate assistant coaching the position which was the case last season.
Kaufman is a 28-year coaching veteran who most recently was the linebacker coach and defensive coordinator at North Carolina.
Kaufman had two Tar Heel linebackers taken in last year's NFL Draft in Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant. Carter went to Dallas in the second round while Sturdivant went to Arizona in the sixth round.
Is there enough talent to create NFL Draft picks with what Tech has on the roster? Maybe, maybe not, but it's likely the corps will take a step forward with Kaufman.
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