Dr. Optimist - DL
It could not get worse right? Any improvement on the line would make a huge difference. Younger players like Joseph Wallace Broderick, Washington, Connor Killian looked good in the spring. Senior Mychealon Thomas and Zach Barnes enter their second and third year under David Gibbs and that kind of consistory can only help.
Mr. Negative - DL
This was going to be the year. This was going to be when Breiden Fehoko was going to fill into his 5-star body and lead the defense to the promised land. They were going to eat tackles and running backs for breakfast and snack on quarterbacks for dessert. It was going to to be glorious. Then he transfers to LSU. At the springs games they looked good, but that was against the Tech O-line and running backs. Neither one of them are going to breaks school records. They may not be able to get worse, but they don't have to be better.
Dr. Optimist - BD
If there is any improvement on the D-line or attacking the running attack of other Big 12 teams, this group will finally get a chance to shine. D.J. Polite-Bray and Desmon Smith both had a good showing in spring ball, and another summer and fall practice can add to it. Will they be the best in the conference, no. But given a chance they may surprise the league.
Mr. Negative - DB
First, does it matter if the backs are better if the opponent can tell their QBs and WRs to take the week off anyway? As many negative texts and posts as we got last year about Justice Nelson being the worst player ever to wear red and black, he was almost always on their best guy. He was trusted with the role. He is no longer here. Was he Deon Sanders, no. Was he they best you had, yeah he was. They are going to get beat deep in one-on-one coverage and it is going to look bad. The good news is that it won't really matter because the running backs are going to be eating up the yards anyway.
Dr. Optimist - LB
If there is one group that has already taken the step forward in improvement, it's the line-backing core. Hinton and Brooks made huge jumps toward the end of the season last year. Their trial by fire was at times painful but they got better. We all could see that. They also brought back Dakota Allen on a second chance. Before he was removed from the team, he was your leading returning tackler. He comes back to a team and place he knows. He is not like every other junior college transfer out there. He knows what it takes and will be ready to go, not just year one, but day one.
Mr. Negative - LB
Okay, so things are not as bad as they seem for the linebackers. If there is one group on defense that even Mr. Negative can feel okay about, it is them. That being said, it's like taking the 4 home from the bar. Better than the 2, but still not a 10. A true sophomore is going to be a key to the worst defense in the Big 12. Linebackers are there mainly there to stop the run. How was the defense at that the last three years? They may be the best group on defense, but they are close to the bottom in the league.
Dr. Optimist - Overall
Years of patients will finally pay off. We trusted the system. The plan was painful and at times unwatchable. This time around, these kids can play. They won't be the 85 Bears or 2015 Crimson Tide, but they don't have to be. They just have to be not the worst defense in college, and they will exceed that by miles. Top 100 over all is the floor for this team, and they could be as high as 75. The last time the Tech defense was that good, 2009 when they were ranked 36th. That may be too high for this year's team. But they will win games for the Red Raiders this season.
Mr. Negative - Overall
Unless they got J.J. Watt and Richard Sherman some extra-elegilbity that I don't know of, the defense will continue to be near the bottom of the league. They can't stop the run. They get thrown over the top at will. Tech had two really bad offensive games last year. The defense had one or two not as bad as others but still not anywhere near good ones. It's too bad, because I like David Gibbs, and I think he can coach. You just can't convince medium tear defensive talent to come play for this team right now.