Adversity all too familiar for Texas Tech's Fehoko

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When Texas Tech’s defense gave up 82 points in its 55-point loss last weekend, spectators around the country took note in amazement. 

Word spread of TCU’s dominance, as it scored the most points in program history with junior quarterback Trevone Boykin throwing for a school-record seven touchdowns. But Red Raider senior linebacker V.J. Fehoko, was far from amazed. He had other words to describe the poor performance.

“Watching the tape once, that was pretty much good enough for me,” Fehoko said Monday. “Disgusted, but it’s something to learn from. We’ve got a big game this week, so we can put our attention and our anger and our frustration towards that.”

Dealing with such adversity is nothing new for Fehoko.

After dropping from 30 to 20 tackles in his junior year at Utah and losing his starting position, Fehoko sought a program where he could better contribute. He transferred to Texas Tech in the spring and has since played every game, averaging more than 5.5 tackles per contest. His 45 tackles thus far this season are good for fourth on the team.

Even so, Fehoko is frustrated by the reality that his defense surrendered 82 points a week ago. With senior middle linebacker Sam Eguavoen, who leads the team in solo tackles and is third in overall tackles, missing the TCU game with a lower-leg injury, Fehoko needed to step up. He met the challenge, recording eight tackles, but, the defense, as a unit, failed.

“I thought we played tough,” Fehoko said. “We had some unfortunate circumstances. I felt we had some miscommunication errors and some misalignments and some missed assignments, but overall, I’m proud of the guys.”

Fehoko understands that TCU’s offense is an elite group. In fact, with a top-10 ranking, they’re a “great football team,” he says. But, he feels his teammates beat themselves at times, missing assignments and entering plays too late to keep pace with the up-tempo style the Horned Frogs ran. Fehoko says the Texas matchup is the perfect opportunity for the Red Raiders to redeem themselves.

“You know what, I think UT is all we need right now,” Fehoko said. “Like Coach Kliff [Kingsbury] said, we need a win. Winning is fun, and I think that will be our main focus this week.”

Fehoko sees the contest with the Longhorns as an opportunity for Tech to redeem itself after last week’s debacle. But, the competition holds even more potential for redemption than that. After Texas downed Tech 41-16 in Austin last Thanksgiving, the Red Raiders hope to defend their home turf this time around. 

“Oh, yeah — you don’t ever want to let a team beat you twice, and our priority right now and our focus is on Texas,” Fehoko said. “They’re coming off of a shutout, which [they had not] done in almost nearly a decade, so they’re going to be fired up. We need all the head starts we can get.”

With the Red Raiders missing so many players due to injury, Fehoko says backups will need to step up. Given the personnel issues, Fehoko is hoping the fans will prove to be the difference.

“The stadium will be rocking — I’m very confident in our fans,” Fehoko said. “I understand that it’s Halloween weekend, so I think a lot of people and a lot of players will be juiced up for that. It’s always a great opportunity to play in the Jones [stadium]
at night.”