Opponents to Watch: Former 'Last Chance U' star leads Tech defense

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Texas Tech Athletics | Daily Texan Staff

After riding a six-game win streak, Texas has dropped its last two contests against Big 12 opponents in poor defensive performances. Now, the Longhorns will travel to Lubbock to face a talented Texas Tech team that could ruin the Longhorns’ season. 

Here are four Red Raiders players to watch for this weekend: 

#7 Jett Duffey — Quarterback 

When Texas Tech quarterback McLane Carter left the season opener against Ole Miss with a left ankle injury, fans worried about who would step up and lead the offense. Alan Bowman quickly calmed those worries. Bowman’s been fantastic during his freshman season, leading the Big 12 in passing yards per game and ranking third in the conference in passing efficiency rating. 

But Bowman has had his fair share of injury struggles too, including last week where he had to sit out the second half against Oklahoma. Now, quarterback Jett Duffey will likely have to fill the void for the Red Raiders. Duffey has appeared in six games, but he hasn’t had quite the same success as Bowman. He’s thrown four touchdowns and four interceptions in the six games he has played. But assuming he gets the start on Saturday, he’ll need to escalate that production against Texas.  

#4 Antoine Wesley — Wide receiver 

Despite the revolving changes at quarterback, the Red Raider offense has still been prolific. Tech’s pass offense is the best in the conference, and it features one of the best receivers in the conference — Antoine Wesley. Wesley has put up video game numbers for the Red Raiders, recording 70 receptions, 1,176 yards and seven touchdowns through just nine games. His reception and receiving yards totals have him at the top of both categories for the team. 

After seeing West Virginia rack up 346 yards and three touchdowns through the air against the Longhorns’ secondary last week, Wesley has to feel good about his prospects for having a big day on Saturday. And if the Longhorns continue to struggle the way they have the previous two weeks against West Virginia’s David Sills V and Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace, Wesley could have a career day this weekend. 

#20 Adrian Frye — Cornerback   

Not much has changed this season with Texas Tech’s defense. As a whole, the unit ranks last in the Big 12 in total defense. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few individual stars for the Red Raiders. One of the biggest developments for the Tech defense has been the emergence of cornerback Adrian Frye. 

After starting the season as a backup on the depth chart, the Houston native has taken on an increased role in the Red Raiders’ defensive backfield. And the results have been impressive. Through nine games, Frye leads Texas Tech in interceptions and pass break ups with four and 12, respectively. His combined 16 passes defended also tops the Big 12, leading Texas defensive back Kris Boyd by two. In a game that will likely feature high scoring and game-breaking plays, any sort of contribution Frye can make in stopping Texas’ wide receivers will help. 

#40 Dakota Allen — Linebacker 

Linebacker Dakota Allen embodies the comeback story. Following a breakout redshirt freshman season, Allen was dismissed from the team by head coach Kliff Kingsbury after he was arrested on burglary charges during the summer of 2016. The Humble, Texas, native transferred to Eastern Mississippi Community College where he became a star on the Netflix show “Last Chance U.” 

After proving himself during his junior college season both on and off the field, Allen transferred back to Lubbock. He has been a positive force on the Red Raider defense over his last two seasons. A team captain and starter at linebacker, Allen has tallied 171 tackles, three fumble recoveries and six pass breakups in 22 games. While Tech’s defense is by no means a formidable force, Allen has the talent to make one or two plays that could be the difference in an offensive shootout.