Branden Jackson. Rika Levi. Demetrius Alston. Malik Jenkins.
Any of those ring a bell?
Texas Tech’s defensive front seven isn’t full of household names, NFL Draft prospects or All-Americans. In fact, five of Tech’s front seven starters are seniors, and none are projected to be drafted, according to nfldraftscout.com and CBSSports.com.
The Red Raiders allow 271 yards rushing a game – 126th out of 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams – and they’re 101st in sacks this season.
The point: Tech’s front isn’t so good, but they are always on the move.
“They’re very mobile,” right tackle Vadal Alexander said. “They move a lot. They cause a lot of havoc. You’ve got to be very careful with your technique. Guys who move around a lot (if) you overstep or under step, you could (give up) a tackle for loss. Things like that could happen.”
No. 22 LSU (8-3) is a touchdown favorite against Texas Tech (7-5) on Dec. 29 in the Texas Bowl, and its top-10 rushing offense is up against one of the nation’s worst defenses.
Ah, but there’s a catch. The Red Raiders front is like nothing LSU has played this season. Tech’s multiple front flashes a variety of looks and executes a host of slants and blitzes, LSU players say.
“Very active defense. They move around a lot,” center Ethan Pocic said. “They do a really good job of movement and how active their D-line is. They might be one of the most active D-lines we’ll see.
“Can’t hesistate,” Pocic said. “They’re going to slant. Got to be aware of it.”
This isn’t necessarily the norm among defensive fronts in the Southeastern Conference.
“They kind of play their gaps and say, ‘Move me. See if you can beat me,’” Alexander said of SEC defenses.
What’s Tech say? We’re not the most talented so we’re planning to fool you with movement.
It could pose as an unusual challenge for running back Leonard Fournette and his offensive line. Fournette has missed the three interview sessions with reporters over the last eight days, so his feelings on Tech’s front seven aren’t known.
His blockers, on the other hand, say they’ll need patience.
“Got to be more patient,” left tackle Jerald Hawkins said. “Got to control yourself. It’s a multiple defense. They could slant and stem. Before the snap, just go to be patient. Got to have discipline.”
‘Bringing that dog out of him’
LSU defensive back Jalen Mills found the positive in the actions Sunday of former LSU star and Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
“Odell is a finesse guy and him getting his hands dirty … I actually kind of liked it a little bit,” Mills said. “Bringing that dog out of him, besides a couple of plays.”
Officials flagged Beckham for three personal foul penalties during the Giants’ 38-35 loss to the Carolina Panthers. The NFL announced Monday a one-game suspension for Beckham following his actions in several heated exchanges Sunday with Panthers defensive back Josh Norman.
“It was kind of out of control, but, I mean, they say football brings the best out of people. It was crazy,” Mills said.
Christmas at the Clapps
Will Clapp, LSU’s starting right guard, plans to watch some game film and improve his technique during the Tigers’ days off this week for Christmas, Thursday and Friday.
And he plans to eat, too – something common in the Clapp household.
Clapp is one of four football-playing boys raised by former LSU defensive lineman Tommy Clapp and his wife, Heather. How would he describe Christmas at the Clapps?
“A lot of food. Kind of a war for who gets the most (food),” he said with a smile.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.