Red Raiders Making a Name for Defense|
Sept. 30, 2010
Written by: Ryanne Villareal
After just three games, two Texas Tech football players have put their names in the national spotlight.
After leading the 2009 and 2010 Red Raiders in tackles at middle linebacker, Duncan was named on three national watch lists. This season Duncan is adjusting well to his new hybrid position as linebacker/defensive end.
Duncan said he will always be comfortable at middle linebacker, but his new position as defensive end comes easier to him and his coaches say it's more natural.
"You have one job almost all the time - and that's to get the quarterback," Duncan said. "So, yes, I would say it is definitely easier and it is a more comfortable position. But my heart will always be at middle linebacker."
After spending the first three years of his Tech career at middle linebacker, Duncan put up his first career sack in the 2010 season opener against SMU playing defensive end. He ended the first game with three sacks.
Duncan has collected a total of five sacks on the season, leading the nation with an average of 1.67 sacks-per game.
Duncan said players like Jarvis Phillips give him the confidence to do his job even better.
"I tell the boys in the locker room before the game that if they lock down we are going to get sacks," Duncan said. Jarvis Phillips, a redshirt freshman from Dallas Carter High School, said having someone like Duncan on defense gives him confidence as well.
"It's a good feeling [to have Duncan], because you know the ball is going to come out early or it's going to come out wrong," Phillips said. "You know the quarterback might even rush the throw. As long as he rushes the passer, I can get interceptions."
In his first season on the field, Phillips has had an interception in each game, including two in the Sept. 18 game against Texas. He leads the nation with four interceptions in just three games, but he doesn't seem to be letting the early spotlight go to his head.
"I'd rather be leading at the end of the season, when it's more important, so right now I'm just trying to do what I can to help the team," Phillips said.
He said that his coaches keep him focused by teaching him to be mentally tough, to never get scared, and to always play every play like it's his last. He keeps his goal for the season at having one interception in every game and continuing to help his team win.
With three games under their belt, the Red Raider defense is ranked third in the nation in sacks and second in the Big 12 in turnover margin.
Coach Tuberville came in with the mindset to get the Red Raider defense as much recognition as the offense. With players like Duncan and Phillips, the Red Raiders are well on their way.