"No. 4" may not quite have the ring to it that "No. 1" does, but Texas Tech sure will live with it for now.
After all, the Red Raiders (5-1, 1-1 in Big 12 Conference play) can say they are the country's No. 4 total defense despite having played Oklahoma and West Virginia already. Tech, which entered Saturday with the nation's No. 1 passing defense, limited West
Virginia quarterback Geno Smith to 275 passing yards — his second-lowest total of the season.
More importantly, Tech forced Smith to rush several throws that led to 26 incompletions. Smith had thrown just 38 incompletions all season before he completing 29 of 55 passes against the Red Raiders.
"I think we're back to where we want to be," Tech safety Cody Davis said. "We kind of off last week (against Oklahoma) and kind of took it personal, and everybody was wanting to know how it feels to face the great offense and the Heisman hopeful."
Smith, despite throwing a pair of touchdown passes, seemed flustered for most of the game and was not able to establish a rhythm because of Tech's ability to generate a pass rush without bringing heavy blitzes.
That pass rush, lead mostly by defensive tackle Kerry Hyder and defensive end Dartwan Bush, forced Smith out of the pocket several times leading to costly incompletions. Tech's secondary was surely thankful for the defensive line's disruptiveness, especially
since cornerback Cornelius Douglas was knocked out of the game first series.
"(Smith) was noticing that we were around him," Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said, "and when you do that, it knocks the timing off from the passing routes. So, our defensive front did a great job."
Bruce Jones subsequently was thrusted into action, defending West Virginia wide receiver J.D. Woods for the majority of the game. Jones, though, stepped up the challenge, successfully breaking up three passes. Woods' longest reception went for 20 yards.
West Virginia's dynamic receiving duo of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey was limited to just one touchdown, and the longest reception either of the two secured was 38 yards. Austin caught nine passes, while Bailey reeled in six balls and a touchdown.
The Mountaineers arrived in Lubbock boasting an offense that was scoring an average of 52 points per game, and had not scored less than 48 points in a single Big 12 game before Tech limited it to 14 Saturday.
But in the Big 12, explosive offenses are aplenty.
Oklahoma State and Baylor, the nation's No. 1 and No. 2 offenses, respectively, remain on Tech's schedule. Tech, based on its most recent outing, may be more ready now than ever.
"It's totally different from last year," Tech quarterback Seth Doege said. "If we got down or whatever the may be, we might have pressed a little bit. But we know that our defense is playing at a high level right now, and I was just blown away by their
By Jose Rodriguez — Special to the Star-Telegram