Texas Tech defense has spring in step

Posted Saturday, Apr. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Kliff Kingsbury’s arrival as Texas Tech’s new head football coach has cast a shadow that makes it easy to overlook even the simplest of storylines.

And while the Tech offense does not seem to struggle to draw attention anymore, the same cannot be said for the defense.

The defense’s 34-28 win Saturday was probably its way of stepping from behind that shadow — and it did so in front of a record spring game crowd of 16,116 at Jones AT&T Stadium, no less.

“We wanted to see guys step up and make plays in the red zone and we weren’t making plays,” Kingsbury said. “To the defense’s credit, they buckled down and stopped us. We had a bunch of our playmakers out, and then the defense stepped up and shut us down, predominantly in the first half.”

The Red Raiders defense made the most of the game’s scoring system, one that rewarded the unit with points for turnovers, sacks, missed field goals and three-and-outs, to jump out to a 23-0 lead.

The offense did not score its first points until the 2:29 mark in the second quarter, when quarterback Michael Brewer and tight end Jace Amaro hooked up for a 15-yard touchdown.

Brewer completed 26 of 43 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns.

During the first half alone, the defense received points six different times for stopping the offense in plus territory.

Defensive end Dartwan Bush and safety Austin Stewart stuffed running back Kenny Williams for no gain on a fourth-and-2 from the 5-yard line early in the game.

Deflected passes at the line of scrimmage came often as Bush and linebackers Chris Payne and Will Smith were among those causing disruption in the front seven.

“That’s [a result] of just playing hard,” linebacker Pete Robertson said. “Don’t stop until they cross that goal line. We’ve got this trend on defense where we never give up, playing a hundred percent. We’re attacking everything like lions.”

While the defense may have outperformed the offense collectively, there may not have been an individual more productive than the 6-foot-5, 257-pound Amaro.

Amaro led all receivers with 11 catches, while producing 80 receiving yards and that touchdown. Even though receiver Eric Ward, Tech’s top returning pass catcher, sat out Saturday’s game, Amaro understands he will be a go-to weapon.

“I think they really got me involved today,” Amaro said. “You know, you could just kind of tell that they kind of ran through me this scrimmage and I kind of got everything going today.”

The junior tight end, whose 2012 season was cut short by injury, is hoping to build on the momentum he was gaining last year when he caught 25 passes for 409 yards and four scores in seven games.

Amaro believes the 2013 season will set the stage for his rise as one of Tech’s most valued offensive players.

“I want to be able to be the game-changer,” Amaro said, “be the X-factor in games like this. I know I’m going to have to be that down the stretch. That’s one thing I’ve anticipated and I plan on doing this season.”

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