Has the 806 D Finally Arrived in the 806?
In 2015 David Gibbs arrived in Lubbock fresh faced and ready to turn around the worst defense in America after a 2014 ranking of 125th nationally.
He brought the motto 806 D which was eloquently delivered to us by Rika Levi, a former Texas Tech defensive lineman. Basically, 806 is the area code for Lubbock, and Coach Gibbs brought this new, fresh theme…you know what 86’d is? Coach Gibbs broke it down like this: back in the olden times when they’d 86 somebody out of a community…they’d make him walk either 80 miles or 80 feet outside of the town and he’d have to dig himself six feet (into the ground)."
The motto didn't help, because in 2015 the defense was ranked 127th nationally.
In 2016 David Gibbs showed up at the local media days and said, "We can't be any worse than last year."
The Texas Tech defense was worse in 2016 than they were in 2015 ranking 128th nationally, or in other words, dead last.
Gibbs was almost sent 80 miles outside of Lubbock and made to pack a bag after several embarrassing losses.
The rumblings were heard all across the 806 and the call to fire Gibbs was growing louder but Kliff Kingsbury doubled down saying it was Gibbs that was going to fix the defense in Lubbock.
In 2017 Coach Gibbs learned his lesson taking a broader approach at media day.
Something feels different this season. It's early, I know.
The defense is ranked 83rd after playing 3 games, one being an FCS squad. The sample size is small but there is definitely more confidence on the defensive side of the ball this season. The defense is making big plays as opposed to giving them up.
The defense has forced a turnover in every game this season. Multiple turnovers in two games including five against Houston and three against Eastern Washington leading to a +7 turnover margin, which is number twp in the nation. The Texas Tech defense has forced more turnovers than Alabama.
It's not just the turnovers. The Texas Tech defense ranked 126th last season in yards per play allowing 7.05 yards a play. This season the defense is ranked 47th at 5.09 yards per play. The difference isn't only showing up in the stats, the defense is visibly different this season.
Gibbs praised his players before the season saying he finally has players that look like Big 12 athletes, which is in turn praise for American bad-ass Rusty Whitt the strength and conditioning coach that arrived between the 2015 and 2016 season.
The question is, are the Red Raiders just off to a hot start defensively or is all the preaching about consistency and Gibbs philosophy finally paying off?