Texas Tech's defense a season ago is remembered most for its inability to stop the run. Turns out rushing the passer wasn't much of a bright spot either for the Red Raiders.
Last season the Tech defense ranked in the lower half of the Big 12 (6th), with just 25 total sacks. Not even two sacks per contest. That simply won't fly for Texas Tech this season if the team plans to be a feared unit.
"We have to get better there," Junior defensive end Branden Jackson said after practice Thursday. "I'm putting it on my shoulders. I need to be the leader when it comes to sacks, rushing the passer, and things like that."
Jackson is the logical choice to be Tech's sack leader this season. The Junior defensive end totaled four last season which put him 2nd on the team behind linebacker Will Smith (4.5). But now that Smith has moved on to a career with the Dallas Cowboys, Jackson becomes the only current Red Raider who registered more than three sacks a year ago.
"I'm trying to have the rest of the defensive line follow me and do what I do," Jackson said. "I'm trying to be vicious and relentless up front. Whenever we need a big play, a sack, a pass rush thing, I want that to be my role this season."
Texas Tech revamped it's defensive line this offseason but mostly with guys who will plug the middle and stop the run. Fans are excited about the additions of Rika Levi, Marcus Smith, and Keland McElrath, but neither of them will post big sack numbers. That mantle belongs to Jackson, newcomer Brandon Thorpe, and Senior Jackson Richards. Those three will be expected to consistently rush the quarterback. Since Jackson has the most potential of the three, the onus is on him to post a sack number closer to double-digits.
"Off the edge this spring I've been working tremendously and timelessly on my pass rush moves and counters," Jackson said. "When a player gets used to one move, I'm working on giving him something different. I've been studying a lot of film and breaking down tendencies."
"I'm trying to be the best pass rusher the Big 12 has seen in some years now."
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