|Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press|
|Texas Tech needs Dartwan Bush's presence off the edge to create favorable matchups elsewhere.|
Texas Tech defensive end Kerry Hyder has been active but not disruptive during the Red Raiders' four-game losing streak. And as any defensive line coach will tell you, the difference is a big one.
Defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt is hoping the return of senior end Dartwan Bush from a knee injury can help spark Hyder and a defense that has run out of steam over the last month.
"We knew that piece was missing," Wallerstedt told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. "If you look when Dartwan was out, when he was removed from the equation, Kerry's numbers started to slide just like our defensive numbers started to slide drastically. If Dartwan stays in the mix, I think Kerry's numbers go well past what he had last year."
Hyder has just one-half tackle for loss in the last four games, a reflection of both the increased level of competition and the absence of Bush with a sprained knee. Hyder posted 19 tackles and did block two kicks in that span, but the lack of negative plays exposed weaknesses throughout the rest of the Texas Tech defense.
But Bush looked spry in his return, with two tackles, one sack and two quarterback hurries in 40 snaps against Baylor. If offensive lines have to account for Bush, an effective pass rusher at 6-foot-1 and 255 pounds, that should offer Hyder more favorable matchups to add to his team-high 10.5 tackles for loss.
That should boost the status of both Hyder and Bush in the eyes of evaluators. Hyder (6-2, 280) has experience as both a 4-3 defensive tackle under former head coach Tommy Tuberville and currently as a 3-4 end, while Bush has thrived coming off the edge.
Bush showed that explosiveness as a sophomore, when he had four forced fumbles, tied for most in the Big 12. In six games before the injury this season, Bush added his fifth career strip, along with 13 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack.
Together, Bush and Hyder could help Texas Tech end its slide and allow the other to do what they do best.
Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.