THE REWIND: Can Red Raiders build on Kansas win?

Texas Tech defensive lineman Broderick Washington fights through a block against Kansas.Elise Bressler photo

Texas Tech defense making a difference so far in Big 12 play.

Something about this Texas Tech football team feels different from the past few seasons.

To use a cross-sport metaphor, the Red Raiders are like a baseball team with good relief pitching. If they get to the late innings with a lead, there’s a good chance they’re going to be able to close out the victory.

Texas Tech defensive end Eli Howard said after Saturday’s 48-16 victory that the Red Raiders’ “dog mentality” means playing hard every snap the whole game. Additionally, he attributed Texas Tech’s performance late in games to strength coach Rusty Whitt and the focus he put on finishing during the offseason.

Well, now those things get a real test.

Texas Tech’s victory over Kansas gave Red Raider fans a nice homecoming, especially since freshman quarterback Alan Bowman returned from injury and passed for 408 yards and three touchdowns.

But here’s the glass-half-empty perspective: a win over Kansas hasn’t been a momentum builder in the last few seasons. Since 2014, Texas Tech has followed up victories over the Jayhawks by losing at least three straight. And the Red Raiders will likely be underdogs in their next three contests at Iowa State and then back home for Oklahoma and Texas.

If there’s a glass-half-empty view, though, there has to be a glass-half-full, and here it is: Texas Tech is playing at a high level on defense, leading the Big 12 in points allowed through four conference games. The Red Raiders are fifth in yards surrendered per Big 12 game, having played two of the conference’s five best offenses (btw, the Red Raiders lead the Big 12 in total offense).

One more thing: Texas Tech’s two-deep currently has 36 underclassmen on it, and that’s not including freshmen running backs Ta’Zhawn Henry and Sarodorick Thompson, and defensive back Octavious Morgan, who could get a medical redshirt and be back next season. That means no matter how the Red Raiders finish this season, they have the pieces to compete for the Big 12 championship next season.