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Kerry Hyder leads resurgent Texas Tech defense

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Texas Tech defensive lineman Kerry Hyder is helping lead an improving Red Raiders defense.

Texas Tech has had only one defensive player drafted in the first three rounds since 2000. That may well change next May with defensive lineman Kerry Hyder, who is already at the center of a dramatic turnaround for the Red Raiders.

Hyder had 1.5 tackles for loss in a 33-7 win over Texas State and also forced a fumble that ended up in the hands of teammate Will Smith for a nine-yard touchdown, Texas Tech's first defensive score since 2011.

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Playing inside in the new 3-4 defense installed by coordinator Matt Wallerstedt, Hyder has a team-high five tackles for loss and two forced fumbles this season. The 6-foot-2, 280-pound redshirt senior, now has 22 tackles for loss with seven sacks over the past two seasons.

That kind of quick, disruptive play is the perfect way to counteract spread offenses that permeate the Big 12 and whose concepts are now filtering up to the NFL. With experience at end and now tackle, Hyder would also offer scheme versatility.

More importantly, it could allow Texas Tech to be a factor in the wide-open conference race. First-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury's Air Raid offense is going to be effective no matter who plays quarterback, be it walk-on freshman Baker Mayfield, true freshman Davis Webb or sophomore Michael Brewer. Brewer is set to return soon after being sidelined with a back injury, Kingsbury said during the Big 12 weekly teleconference Monday.

Hyder and the defense already showed it could carry its weight in a 20-10 win over TCU. Assuming the offense delivers in its usual high-flying fashion during the rest of the Big 12 slate, merely slowing down the opposition could be enough to secure a special season.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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