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The Texas Tech defensive line returns nearly its entire two-deep from a season
ago and has the potential to compete with the best Big 12 offensive lines
Jackson Richards and
Dartwan Bush anchor a defensive end depth
chart that is far more robust than what former head coach Tommy Tuberville
inherited in 2010. Kerry Hyder was one of the better interior linemen
in the conference in 2012 and should be in the conversation for preseason
All-Big 12 honors heading into to 2013.
and the hope is that former Rivals100 prospect and rising junior
Delvon Simmons can have a similar jump after starting all 13 games in 2012.
The defensive line as a whole has a new role to play in the 3-4. As was the case
when James Willis was the coordinator, in a 3-4 scheme, the line needs to be
quick and athletic. The defensive tackles push the interior offensive line back
and the ends have to contain the outside edge with help from the outside
linebackers and ideally be quick enough to make a play on their own.
The first set of defensive line starters seems set and the storylines coming
from this position will be who is taking steps forward.
Anthony Smith was out of shape when he arrived on campus and had to
spend extra time during fall camp training with former strength and conditioning
coach Joe Walker to shed unnecessary pounds. The big tackle could run a sub-5
second 40-yard dash time so we're looking to see if he has returned to being the
quick player he was in high school.
J.J. Lollar is in a difficult position because his eye issues forced
him into bed rest and the medicine he had to take caused severe weight gain. He
put in a lot of effort at home to get back into shape but nothing can beat a
college strength and conditioning program. It will be interesting to see how he
bounces back from what was once feared as a career-ending medical issue.
Other players who might step into the spotlight are sophomore
Donte Phillips at defensive tackle and sophomore defensive end
There is a lot of potential along the defensive line in addition to some proven
leaders so this is a position ground that should be able to take another step
forward this spring.
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NEWCOMERS: J.J. Lollar. The College Station product originally
signed with Texas Tech in 2012, but was prevented from joining the team last
summer due to a serious eye issue that could have cost him his sight. Lollar
greyshirted as a result, and has been on campus since the beginning of the
PRESSURE IS ON: Hyder's junior season was arguably the best for
a Red Raider interior lineman in a decade. Colby Whitlock, for example, never
had more than 8.5 TFL or three sacks in any one season; Hyder had 14 stops
behind the line and 5.5 sacks as a junior. He'll be expected to duplicate or
improve on those numbers as a senior.
BIGGEST QUESTION: Who plays where? For example,
Branden Jackson and
Chase Robison were all
defensive ends in 2012, but it seems likely that they will be playing outside
linebacker in Matt Wallerstedt's scheme.