MORGANTOWN - It's fairly easy to make the argument that the Texas Tech defense that West Virginia faces this weekend is not all it's cracked up to be.
Dana Holgorsen would beg to differ.
"Oh, it's legitimate,'' Holgorsen said. "They know what they're doing and they do it well.''
Well, OK. The statistics would seem to bear that out.
In total defense, the Red Raiders are No. 2 in the country, allowing just 210 yards per game. Only No. 1 Alabama ranks higher.
In pass defense, Tech is even better. Giving up just 117.4 yards per game through the air is almost a silly statistic given the offenses of today. The Red Raiders have surrendered but four touchdown passes and 587 yards. Consider that Geno Smith threw for 490 yards and six touchdowns against Baylor. And then he went back out for the fourth quarter.
Texas Tech is also seventh nationally in pass efficiency defense, 12th against the rush and 22nd in points allowed.
So what's the knock on the Red Raiders' defense? Well, statistics are fine, but it's wise also to look at competition. Tech's first three games were against Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico. It's fourth was at offensively challenged Iowa State.
And then its fifth - and its first loss - was a 41-20 setback at home to Oklahoma, which had 259 passing yards (Tech gave up just 382 to its first four foes combined) and 121 on the ground. After giving up 43 points in four games, the Red Raiders gave up 41 in one.
In other words, while statistics never lie, they don't always tell the whole truth, either.
It's probably fair to say that Tech has not faced an offense as potent as the one it will face Saturday when No. 5 West Virginia (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) visits the Red Raiders (4-1, 1-1) in Lubbock. But that doesn't mean Tech can't play defense.
"They're not very tricky. They're very, very, very sound and they're never out of position and they're not very tricky,'' Holgorsen said. "They blitz eight percent of the time, so they're not a try-to-trick-you defense. They're not a gimmick defense. They're a sound, effort defense. They play hard and their guys are in position and they're technically sound.''
Truth be told, that's not something West Virginia's offense has seen much of this season. The Mountaineers rank among the top five teams in the country in passing, pass efficiency, total offense and scoring and have the leading early candidate for the Heisman Trophy in Smith. Because of that reputation, few teams have tried to simply line up and stop that offense.