LUBBOCK, Texas – Red Raider fans got a glimpse of Texas Tech’s newly fortified defensive line during the annual Red-Black Game on Saturday as the unit recorded nine sacks and pressured the squad’s quarterbacks throughout the workout. The defense edged out a 29-23 win over the offense.
A unit that was thin in depth during the 2007 season bolstered itself with six defensive line additions on signing day, including the addition of three players that enrolled in January and participated in Saturday’s spring game. McKinner Dixon made his return to the red and black, while University of Miami transfer Chris Perry and freshman Ryan Haliburton helped solidify the unit.
Defensive tackle Richard Jones led the unit with three sacks, while ends Daniel Howard and Dixon recorded two each. Despite playing against a thinned-out offensive line, the defensive front rotation showed its athleticism and spent much of the day in the backfield, accounting for 84 lost yards on tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Dixon credited first-year defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill with the unit’s success today.
“You saw a defensive line today doing with Ruff told us to do,” Dixon said. “He has us enthusiastic and ready to play. Whether it’s practice during the week or a scrimmage or the spring game, we are ready to play each time.
“As for me, it felt good to get out there and hit somebody,” Dixon said, referring to his first spring back at Tech since his freshman season in 2005.
(Courtesy: Texas Tech)
Howard paced the defense with four tackles, including the two sacks, while Jones, safety Jordy Rowland and linebacker Blake Collier added three each. Linebackers Sam Fehoko, Chris Wallace and Tyrone Sonier each grabbed interceptions.
Quarterback Graham Harrell did manage a team-leading 209 yards on 17-of-29 passing, including a touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Backup quarterback Taylor Potts connected on 28-of-37 for 159 yards, while Stefan Loucks was 9-of-13. He also had the second touchdown strike to walk-on inside receiver Blake Kelley. Kelley led all receivers with 10 receptions and totaled 86 yards. The offensive line, which returns all five starters from last season, was without two of those starters and three backups.
“We definitely had our ups and downs today,” Harrell said of the offense’s performance. “We would like to have scored more points, but the defense did a great job, which is very encouraging. The guys up front kept getting pressure and did a good job of keeping us off-balance.”
Running back Aaron Crawford averaged 6.4 yards on the ground and rushed for 45 yards on seven carries. Baron Batch took a bulk of the reps with 15 and rushed for 47 yards, while Shannon Woods and Kobey Lewis carried seven and five times for 30 and 16 yards, respectively. Crawford had the lone rushing score of the day.
Detron Lewis had seven receptions for 93 yards and Crabtree grabbed six catches for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Playing for only the second time with a defensive scoring system, the unit managed its 29 points on the 13 sacks, turnovers and three and outs.
Place kicker Cory Fowler added a 38-yard field goal to the scoring for the offense in the second quarter.