Texas Tech Football: 3 unexpected breakout players in 2023

Texas Tech Football: 3 unexpected breakout players in 2023
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Texas Tech football just wrapped up their 2023 season this past Friday. While the rivalry against Texas as Big 12 foes might have ended on a low note in a 57-7 blowout, Tech finished the season on a high note thanks to a strong November. The Red Raiders are heading to a bowl game for the third consecutive year, the first time that has happened since the Mike Leach era. How Joey McGuire has weathered this season’s storm of a poor start and bad injuries cannot be understated.

While several seniors and experienced players helped get the team to this point at 6-6, a few newer faces broke out this year and stepped up when they needed to. The injury bug bit the Red Raiders hard all season. Depth during past seasons was hard to overcome, but McGuire so far has been able to salvage wins and close games in the fourth quarter in November with players who are not household names. Each of these players made an impact on helping the Red Raiders rally to make a bowl game and finish with a winning conference record.

Ben Roberts has led the Texas Tech defense

LUBBOCK, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 16: Ben Roberts #13 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders defends during the second half of the game against the Tarleton State Texans at Jones AT&T Stadium on September 16, 2023 in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

Tech’s linebacking corp. took a blow in the first game against Wyoming. In the first quarter of that game, Jacob Rodriguez suffered a sprained foot. The promising linebacker then missed the majority of the season after many expected him to have a standout year. In stepped Ben Roberts, a redshirt freshman who had not played much at all.

Roberts got to work right away when Rodriguez went down, forcing a fumble in his first start against Oregon while registering 12 tackles. He recorded his first interception against West Virginia two weeks later and against Baylor forced another fumble. He recorded a career-high 13 tackles against Texas. He finished the season leading the team in tackles with 100. For a player who had to fill big shoes right away the coaching staff could not have asked for much more.

Overall Roberts fits the mold of what defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter wants. He always seemed to be flying to the football and quickly became a key future piece of the defense. With Rodriguez likely coming back due to a medical redshirt, he and Roberts will look to form a dominant duo with Jesiah Piere and Myles Cole leaving after this season.

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