Mike Mitchell to Outside Linebacker is About 2016, Not 2015

Mike Mitchell’s move to outside linebacker should help some in 2015, but the move for him is about planning for 2016 and beyond.

There were rumblings last week and now, it was confirmed at Texas Tech’s media day, where inside linebacker Mike Mitchell was moved from an inside linebacker spot to the outside linebacker spot (some may call this a defensive end).

It didn’t hit me until the day after that this move to defensive end isn’t really about what will happen in 2015, but what will happen in 2016 and beyond. It’s always a bit strange to talk about the next year when this year hasn’t even started and it is even a bit more strange to consider the path of Mike Mitchell, the 5-star player who has yet to play a down for Texas Tech.

There are three prevailing thoughts in my head as I consider this move and the timing of it:

1. Pete Robertson doesn’t have a legitimate back-up. He didn’t have anyone that could really replicate what he could do last year and he played a ton of snaps. If the game was even remotely close, he was on the field and he almost rarely came off the field. As we all know, with offenses the way that they are, this is really no way to run a legitimate defense. You’ve got to have depth and you have to play that depth. Robertson for 50 really good plays is significantly better than Robertson for 80 plays.

2. In considering the prospect of who would take Robertson’s place, there were a handful of options and I wasn’t sure what direction that David Gibbs would take. There was the option of Kris Williams, the oft-injured linebacker, or Gary Moore, the lean and lanky defensive end type or a mystery guest, maybe freshman Lonzell Gilmore of someone like that. Mitchell solves that problem, as he’ll be a sophomore this year and he will then have two more years of eligibility and for this to be his spot. If Gilmore is the same type of player of Pete Robertson, then he could eventually morph into the same role and also have two years of it being his position when (and if) that time comes.

3. Maybe the best news about all of this is that this sorta means that I think Gibbs and the rest of the staff have a long-term outlook on things. That means that Gibbs isn’t just looking to this year, but he’s looking to next year too. Without a pass rush the secondary isn’t going to be nearly as good and it seems to me that Gibbs is doing everything he can to make sure that that same pass rush and he’s looking further down the road than this year. That’s really encouraging, to maybe have a plan and a scheme and moving those players around so that they can learn this year and be able to move into that spot without much of a need for a transition next year.


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