Texas Tech defensive coordinator David Gibbs discusses “gap integrity” or quite possibly the lack thereof last year with ESPN as well as discussing LB Mike Mitchell and DT Breiden Fehoko and their roles on the team in 2015.
ESPN’s Jake Trotter did a Q&A with Texas Tech defensive coordinator David Gibbs, who spoke about the idea of being consistent is the key to teaching good defense, something that Texas Tech hasn’t had in more than a handful of seasons. Gibbs is asked, point blank, how he’s going to stop teams from running all over Texas Tech and his answer is a bit disturbing and understandable all at the same time.
Gibbs: It starts up front. Texas Tech struggled with some of the front guys, being out of position, being out of gaps. To me, it’s just fundamental football. It sounds easy. But it’s about the defensive line staying in their gaps, and the linebackers and secondary knowing their run fits. That comes with the coordinating of a defense. From day one, I’m going to be preaching run support calls. Is it always going to be perfect? No. But if you have a system and preach a system, you’re going to be better. You’ll have a chance. Does that mean Arkansas still can’t run you over? No, they still can run you over. But when guys start jumping their gaps to try and go make play and screw their buddy, you’re not going to stop anybody. If you don’t gap up, you’re not going to stop the run. It starts up front and ends with the linebackers and secondary understanding run support calls. It’s life or death with me when it comes to run support calls.
One of the things that it seemed like was preached for the past two years was that players needed to have “gap integrity” which means that if you run a one gap scheme, each player needs to be in the right space and filling a gap, otherwise, the opposing running back would have a huge hole to run through. I think the idea of gap integrity was preached, but the results say that there was a large and significant disconnect between what was preached and what actually happened.
So here’s Gibbs insinuating that the lack of playing as a unit may have cost this team big yards as a defense and, well, that’s incredibly troubling and disappointing. Without a doubt, this concept of playing like a team has to be better,
Gibbs also talked about LB Mike Mitchell, but I found his comments about DT Breiden Fehoko to be more interesting:
Gibbs: He’s going to be in the rotation. We’re going to play at least eight defensive linemen. You have to have two racks of defensive linemen nowadays, whether they’re good enough, it doesn’t matter. I don’t think you can play guys 80-90 snaps and function. So he’s going to play, and play as much as he can. There’s a difference between him and most freshmen in that he has phenomenal strength already even as a baby. A lot of guys that young can’t hold up to the pounding. He has the strength to. We don’t need him to be a superstar, we just need him to be functional in the defense. His time [to be a star] will come. If it comes early, we’ll feel blessed.
Despite starting on the third team, it sounds like Gibbs knows that Fehoko is going to be a part of the rotation. I do think it might be a bit premature to think that Fehoko will start from the get-go, but he’s going to be part of the rotation. The key quote for me is that Gibbs isn’t looking for Fehoko to be a star, but a contributor and that’s a fair expectation. Anything else would maybe be too much.
Make sure and check out the entire Q&A.