Tech's Defense Played Good Enough to Win

Led by linebacker Will Smith, who recorded career highs in tackles (18) and tackles for loss (4.0), Texas Tech's defense showed up ready to battle Texas on Thursday.

AUSTIN – Nobody would confuse Texas Tech's defensive effort Thursday night against Texas as championship caliber, but the Red Raiders showed up at Darrell K. Royal Stadium ready to play.

The undermanned Red Raider defense was physical, resilient and afforded the team an opportunity to pull off the upset, yet the Red Raiders still dropped its fifth straight decision, 41-16. It was Tech's fifth straight loss to the Longhorns (8-3, 7-1 in Big 12) overall and eighth consecutive defeat in Austin.

"I do [think the defense played good enough to win]. I thought they played hard and gave us the ball back to make it close and we just never rose up on the offensive side of the ball," Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said.

The final stats were not pretty. In fact, on paper it looks similar to each of the last four losses. The Red Raiders (7-5, 4-5) allowed 281 yards on the ground and 463 yards overall.

Yet Tech slowed Texas' rushing attack early, recovered two fumbles; one forced by senior defensive lineman Kerry Hyder, which was recovered by senior safety Tre' Porter and another where freshman safety Tanner Jacobson simply ripped the ball from a Texas players' grasp. Senior linebacker Terrance Bullitt appeared to force another fumble on a viscous open-field hit on Texas quarterback Case McCoy, but it was overturned after further review.

"I'm proud of my defense. We fought, we clawed; they tried to run the ball on us and we held them up somewhat," Porter said. "We let out a few big plays, but I mean besides those two plays we played great defense and we had two turnovers so it gives the offense opportunities. We did our best. We gave Texas our best shot."

The Red Raiders also did a good job of getting off the field on third down, holding the Longhorns to just 5 of 15 for the game, though UT did convert a pair of key fourth downs. While the defense scrapped, the Texas Tech offense fizzled to just three first-half points and didn't score a touchdown until the fourth quarter when Texas had the game well in hand.

No one played more inspired than senior linebacker Will Smith, who recorded career highs in both tackles (18) and tackles for loss (four) to go along with a sack and three personal foul penalties. Though the penalties are not commendable, it speaks to his aggressive approach to Thursday's game, something that has been sorely lacking from the Texas Tech defense.

"It hurts a lot, especially for us seniors," Smith said. "I saw every senior out there playing their hearts out and a lot of other guys on the team were too. It's just difficult to lose five straight like that, but we just got to find something together as a team, excluding the coaches, just as players come together and win this bowl game. It's not good to lose five-in-a-row."

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