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Sophomore defensive lineman Eli Howard makes a tackle during the last home football game against the University of Texas at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10, at Jones AT&T Stadium. The Red Raiders were defeated by the Longhorns, 41-34.

With the 2019 football season just around the corner for the Texas Tech football team, several members of Tech’s defense showed excitement for what the new and improved defense will bring to the table.

Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson, in his third decade of coaching and second stint in the Big 12, has his players excited for the upcoming season, with talk of an aggressive, revamped defense built around forcing turnovers ready to take the field this fall.

“It’s exciting. I love change, I love seeing new things and being new places, stuff like that,” senior defensive back Desmon Smith said. “To be able to experience it first hand in such a large spectrum, it’s exciting.”

Fellow defensive veterans junior Riko Jeffers and Demarcus Fields also spoke highly of Patterson’s defense, praising the aggressive attacking style and his penchant for turnovers.

“I like (Patterson’s defense), I feel like we attack more, we’re gonna blitz more, we’re gonna come after a lot more guys,” Fields said. “I like how (coach Patterson) preaches turnovers, and just saying ‘turnovers, turnovers, turnovers’, we can make a lot more plays just doing that.”

Jeffers, who will be looked upon to step up following the departure of star linebacker Dakota Allen, said Patterson has everyone excited to prove what they can do in his defense.

“How aggressive we are. We’re gonna get after quarterbacks and not let them sit in the pocket and pick apart our defense,” Jeffers said. “Being able to cause more turnovers and get the ball back in the offense’s hands and put more points on the board.”

Smith, in his fourth season as a Red Raider, will be a familiar face in Tech’s secondary, and will help fill the void left by an experienced departing senior class in the secondary. An experienced starter in his own right with 15 starts, Smith not only looks to lead this season but to learn from the young guys around him.

“It’s cool I guess, but I just want to be a good teammate, as long as I’m holding myself accountable and doing things right, guys will fall by me,” Smith said. “It’s as simple as that.”

As a veteran on the team, Smith spoke to his overall excitement regarding the new coaching regime overall, and it started with new head coach Matt Wells and the energy he has brought to the program in a single offseason. Other key coaches that Smith praised included strength and conditioning coach Dave Scholz and offensive coordinator David Yost, before praising the entire staff for what they have brought to Tech.

“I was just sitting around waiting to find out who I’d be playing football for, and (Athletic Director) Kirby Hocutt did a good job hiring this new staff, he brought in a great group of guys,” Smith said. “Coach Wells, coach Scholz, coach Patterson, coach Yost, I could go on. The whole strength staff. It’s just something new in the air around here, you feel it when you walk in the facility.”

Across the defense, the loss of key starters such as Jay’Shawn Johnson and Allen has left voids for others to step up, and senior Jordyn Brooks is expected by many of his teammates to be the newest star on Patterson’s defense.

“J. Brooks is that dude. He is that dude. One thing about him is he just loves football. He is not selfish,” Smith said. “I could rave on about him all day, but he’s a great football player. I could rave on about him all day. He’s a great football player, crazy fast, he’s an athlete, he’s an impressive player and I’m excited for him. I’m happy for him that he’s got the role that he’s got in this defense.”

Jeffers, a breakout star in a deep linebacker rotation last year and an expected starter for the first time in his collegiate career, said Brooks has taught him a lot about his position and how to dedicate himself to football.

“(Brooks and Allen) taught me to get in my playbook a lot more. Watch film, actually buy in and put in the extra work, like the extra reps, the extra stretching, the rehabbing, the taking care of your body, and being a pro with the sport,” Jeffers said.

Like Smith, Jeffers expects Brooks to have another big season is his senior year with the Red Raiders. Brooks has also drawn national attention by landing himself on the Butkus Award watch list, an award given to the best collegiate linebacker in the country each year.

“It’s exciting because I know what Jordyn can do and I know what he will do this year. It’s exciting to see him being a leader this year and being able to push this team to where we need to be,” Jeffers said.

In the trenches, Tech returns an experienced, deep defensive line group that has both the linebacking core and secondary ready to see what they can do. Junior defensive end Eli Howard V, junior defensive tackle Nick McCann and senior defensive tackle Broderick Washington all drew rave reviews from their teammates regarding the strides they have made this offseason.

“I’m confident in every single one of our defensive lineman. Broderick (Washington), Nick (McCann), Eli (Howard V), I could go on. We’ve got dogs on our defensive line, and I’m excited to see them go to work this fall,” Smith said. “The most impressive group on the football team, in my eyes, is the way they carry themselves, their brotherhood that they’ve got within the D-Line alone. It’s exciting.”

Jeffers said he expects big things from the defensive line this year and will look to utilize their plays to help him disrupt opposing offenses.

“We have some really big, talented guys on our D-Line. Like Eli, Nick, Broderick, their freakish big athletes. It’s really exciting to be able to see them in this defense, see them shoot through their gaps and stuff like that. So it’ll be fun to watch them play this year,” Jeffers said.

Offensively, the addition of offensive coordinator David Yost has Tech’s defenders ready to see just how explosive his offense can be in the Big 12.

“(Yost’s offense) is so fast tempo, they move down the field really fast," Jeffers said. "Sometimes your head starts turning because it’s moving so fast, but I like coach Yost’s playbook that I’ve seen so far and I’m excited to see what they do together."

In the secondary, Fields says the routes he’s seeing from Tech’s wide receivers will make an impact this year, especially with returning sophomore quarterback Alan Bowman throwing the rock.

”I like the way (coach Yost) runs his route schemes, I like how they move, they go very fast, I feel like he’s just really preparing us for what we’re about to see (this year),” Fields said.

With a new defense ready to prove itself in 2019, the energy that could be felt among the returning veterans showed just how excited they are to show Tech fans what the defense could do.

“I’ve got all the faith in the world in coach (Patterson). He does a great job, building relationships with his players, explaining the defenses, fronts, all of that,” Smith said. “I think he’s got a great game plan, I’m excited to run his defense.”

“It’s surreal, we’re ready, we’re excited, we’re ready to piggyback off everyone else’s success through Texas Tech, all the other sports, we’re ready to make this community proud and have someone to cheer for on Saturday’s when we play,” Jeffers said.

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