SportingNews.com - College Football - Texas Tech's revamped defense to face ISU Texas Tech's revamped defense to face ISU E-MAIL Print Comment 0 Posted: October 5, 2007 AMES, Iowa (AP) -- Texas Tech interim defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeil couldn't have asked for a better debut. Thrust into the job after Texas Tech threw for 646 yards, scored 45 points and lost, McNeil's defense gave up the fewest yards of total offense in school history in a 75-7 win over Northwestern State last week. McNeil, who replaced Lyle Setencich on Sept. 22, will get his first shot a Division I opponent Saturday when the Red Raiders (4-1, 0-1 Big 12) host Iowa State (1-4, 0-1). Texas Tech coach Mike Leach -- never one to bite his tongue -- likes the changes he's seen from the defense since McNeil took over. "Sometimes things can be overanalyzed to the point that your mind is clouded, and I think he has removed a lot of the clouds out of players' minds," Leach said of McNeil. "I see them bouncing around and playing with a high level of enthusiasm that we need to continue to improve on." The players say they've taken to McNeil's high-energy approach, which emphasizes a swarming style of play. McNeil has also thrown in a few schematic wrinkles, but Texas Tech's players say the biggest change is mental. "He is soaking wet when practice is over. He's out there running, he's in our face, and it's alright to mess up in front of him and be corrected at that time," linebacker Brian Duncan said. "That intensity from that coach is on a high level. It's something we really needed." Iowa State is expected to give Texas Tech's defense a stiffer test than the Blue Demons, of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA). Just how much of a test the Cyclones can give is the question. Iowa State, in its first season under coach Gene Chizik, is last in the Big 12 and 105th in the nation at 18.8 points a game. The Cyclones have shown flashes of progress under Chizik, most notably when they upset Iowa 15-13, but turnovers have hurt them as much as any team in the nation. Iowa State is minus-8 in turnover margin and has been outscored a staggering 51-3 in points off takeaways. For a team that hasn't overcome mistakes of any kind, those numbers tell the story. "They play a huge role in why we're 1-4," Chizik said about turnovers. "It's a very fine line." One area Chizik has improved in his short time at Iowa State is the defense, which isn't surprising given his reputation as a defensive whiz during stops at Auburn and Texas. The Cyclones aren't exactly locking down opponents, but Chizik has turned one of the nation's worst pass defenses into the third-best in the conference. Their secondary hasn't seen anything like Texas Tech, though. Iowa State was no match for quarterback Graham Harrell and the Red Raiders' passing game last season in Ames, allowing a school-record six passing TDs in a 42-26 loss. It looks like Texas Tech's passing game is even stronger this season. Bolstered by the emergence of freshman wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who leads the nation with 60 receptions and 14 touchdowns, Texas Tech's offense is averaging 54.6 points a game. Harrell is also a mainstay on national leader boards, with 24 touchdowns, 2,301 yards passing and just two interceptions. "You don't know where it's coming," Iowa State cornerback Allen Bell said. "You know what's coming, but you don't know how it's coming." Scoring points has never been a problem for Texas Tech, especially against Iowa State, which is 1-6 in the series. Stopping opponents from doing the same is another matter. The Red Raiders have allowed an average of 34.7 points in its last three games against Division I opponents. Texas Tech is hoping that the intensity McNeil has brought to the defense will be sustained through Big 12 play. "We have no choice; we've got to maintain it," cornerback Chris Parker said. "When you have a coach like (McNeil), he's going to expect you to go out there and be aggressive every play or you're not going to be out on the field."