No love for quarterbacks shown by Tarleton’s defense in 2021

TSU Sports Information

Tarleton has become a defensive powerhouse since Marcus Patton joined the program in 2016. Blended with the explosive offense run by head coach Todd Whitten, it's easy to see why the Texans have enjoyed so much success over the past few years.

Patton

In fact, since 2018, the Texans have compiled a record of 34-10. That's a winning percentage of .773, the 14th best among NCAA Division I programs in the last four years, only behind Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Clemson, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Appalachian State, Princeton, Kennesaw State, North Dakota State, James Madison and Dartmouth.

Defensively over that timeframe, the Texans have allowed just 18.3 points per game, the 11th best mark in all of Division I, counting both FBS and FCS. That's a credit to Patton, plus the 13 All-Americans he's had.

Tarleton linebacker D.J. Harris (No. 18) is seen in action during a game earlier this season. With 13 interceptions and five fumble recoveries, the Texans had the tied-45th most takeaways in the FCS, tied-second most in the WAC. They also forced a safety last season, courtesy of Harris stuffing Fort Lewis quarterback Jack Hanenburg on a QB draw in the end zone.

In 2021, the Tarleton passing defense was most to be feared. Before diving in, please note that all FCS rankings are hypotheticals, as Tarleton is not presently shown on stat leaderboards due to the program's reclassification period.

First off, teams didn't dare challenge the Texans through the air. Only eight teams in the FCS saw fewer yards per passing attempt than Tarleton's defense (5.87 per), and only 15 allowed fewer yards per completion (10.72 per). Overall, Tarleton allowed the 19th fewest total passing yards (2,090) and the 24th fewest passing yards per game (190.0).

Quarterbacks had the 10th lowest passing efficiency in all of FCS against Tarleton (110.69), with the Texans recording the tied-25th most interceptions (13).

Hafford

It sure helps having the Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and All-American Devin Hafford in the secondary. The defensive back picked off six passes himself, tied-fourth most across all of Division I, the tied-sixth most interceptions in a single-season in Tarleton football history.

With 13 interceptions and five fumble recoveries, the Texans had the tied-45th most takeaways in the FCS, tied-second most in the WAC. They also forced a safety last season, courtesy of linebacker D.J. Harris stuffing Fort Lewis quarterback Jack Hanenburg on a QB draw in the end zone.

Add in opponents' rushing attack, the Texans allowed the 29th fewest yards per play overall at 5.07 per.

Now, limiting the ability of teams to move the ball is big, but keeping opponents out of the end zone is even more vital. So, how did Tarleton do on that front?

The Texans allowed the tied-24th fewest touchdowns in the FCS (30), good for the 27th best scoring defense nationally at 21.8 points per game allowed. Tarleton allowed the tied-23rd fewest red zone scores (26) on the tied-15th fewest red zone attempts (31) in the FCS.

It was a solid year for the Texan defense overall once again, a season in which they had 39 players get some run in game action. They're losing defensive stars like Hafford and Ronnell Wilson, but with the promising play already shown by the younger guys and the history of the defensive unit since Patton took over, there's every reason to believe the Texans will maintain elite status on that side of the football.