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Texas Tech Preview 2006 - Offense
Texas Tech Red Raiders
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 31, 2006


Texas Tech Red Raiders Preview 2006 - Tech Offense

What you need to know ... Once again, Texas Tech's offense will put up high-octane passing numbers and be among the top producing attacks in the nation. Now the question is who gets to be the star who runs the show. Graham Harrell and Chris Todd will battle it out for the starting quarterback job until the opener with freshman Taylor Potts adding another good arm to the mix. The receiving corps will be one of the most productive around led by All-America candidates Jarrett Hicks and Joel Filani. The offensive line welcomes back four starters and should be the best yet under head coach Mike Leach. There's no replacing RB Taurean Henderson, but speedy Shannon Woods won't be bad in the starting role.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Graham Harrell
37-55, 422 yds, 3 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Shannon Woods
24 carries, 168 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: Robert Johnson
67 catches, 951 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Senior WR Jarrett Hicks
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore WR Shannon Woods
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR L.A. Reed
Best pro prospect: Senior OG Manuel Ramirez
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Hicks, 2) WR Joel Filani, 3) QB Graham Harrell
Strength of the offense: Wide receiver, offensive line
Weakness of the offense:
Experience at quarterback and running back

Quarterbacks
Who wants the keys to the car? This was the nation's number one passing offense last year, and it'll battle Hawaii for the top spot this season. Yes, Texas Tech has a good plug and chug system when it comes to quarterbacks and yes, it usually takes a few years to figure out how to run the attack, but the program hasn't had talents like Graham Harrell, Chris Todd and Taylor Potts to work with. If you've wondered what the offense would be like with a possible next-level talent at quarterback, you're going to find out. However, it's still up in the air who the main man is going to be. Harrell has the inside line on the job because of his knowledge of the system, but he doesn't have the upside of Todd or Potts. The rating is based on talent and experience, not expected production.
The key to the unit: The pecking order has to quickly be decided on and then the players have to be developed accordingly.
Quarterback Rating: 7.5

Projected Starter
- Graham Harrell, Soph. - 37-55, 422 yds, 67%, 3 TD
Neck-and-neck with Cody Hodges for the starting job last season, Harrell suffered a broken leg and lost out by default. He was able to return to be the number two passer and get a little bit of playing time making his biggest impact in light duty against Texas A&M. He has a great grasp of the offense for being such a young player and has a nice, accurate arm. He's not going to be a runner like Hodges was.

Top Backups
- Chris Todd, RFr.
A big recruit last season the 6-3, 201-pound Todd is being given every shot to win the starting job. He has a powerful arm and is a pure, pro-style passer with huge upside after throwing for 7,777 yards and 88 touchdowns finishing second behind Tim Couch for most Kentucky high school records. He's not going to be a statue with decent speed, but his command of the offense will be what makes or breaks his starting chances.

- Taylor Potts, Fr.
The true freshman was a big recruit for the program after throwing for  3,155 yards and 23 touchdowns last season. Courted by all the big boys, Potts didn't come to Texas Tech to sit on the bench for a few years. He's 6-5, 220 pounds, and a perfect fit for the system.

Running Backs
The Texas Tech running backs fit the system. They're small, quick, and can all catch. Shannon Woods is the heir apparent for Taurean Henderson with similar all-around skills and enough time as a reserve to step in right away and shine. 5-6 Kobey Lewis will be a flash of speed, and Pete Richardson will be the fastest back in the corps. Taurence Rawls is expected to be back early on in the season providing even more depth.
The key to the unit: Use all the backs in a rotation to make up for the lost production of Taurean Henderson.
Running Back Rating: 6.5

Projected Starters
- Shannon Woods, Soph. - 24 carries, 168 yds, 7 ypc, 3 TD, 9 catches, 85 yds, 9.4 ypc, 1 TD
Woods has some huge shoes to fill replacing Taurean Henderson and his 69 career touchdowns, 3,241 rushing yards, and 2,058 receiving yards. He has 4.4 speed and has been a top kick returner, and now he appears ready to be a do-it-all star like Henderson. Fine, so he's not going to be Henderson and there has to be a bit of a concern after a mediocre spring when he had problems with an ankle injury and has had problems as a receiver and in pass blocking, but he's talented enough to overcome his issues.

Top Backups
- Kobey Lewis, RFr.
Only 5-6 and 167 pounds, Lewis is a quick scat back who scored 60 touchdowns over his final two seasons at Abilene High School. While he's not as fast as fellow backup Pete Richardson, but he has 4.45 speed.
- Pete Richardson, RFr.
The decent do-it-all option has sub-4.4 speed and nice hands along with a nose for the goal line. He's coming back from a broken foot and isn't all that big at 5-9 and 175 pounds, so don't expect him to be a workhorse for the ground game. He won't need to be.
- Taurance Rawls, Jr. - 10 carries, 32 yds, 3.2 ypc, 1 TD, 3 catches, 16 yds, 5.3 ypc
Hurt this off-season in conditioning drills, the key backup running back will likely miss the first few games this year after missing all spring. He's a big-time athlete who fits the Texas Tech mold with good hands and plenty of quickness. Not just fast, he's also one of the team's strongest backs.

Receivers
It'll be among the most productive groups in America with the return of the top four wide receivers. Robert Johnson, Joel Filani, and Jarrett Hicks are all going to be on All-Big 12 teams and a few All-America squads. There's speed, talent, and size with enough options to go around for two good receiving corps. Each of the top receivers will have a fair share of 100-yard games.
The key to the unit: The stars have to shine through again while time has to be carved out for the backups so they can hit the ground running next year.
Receiver Rating: 10

Projected Starters
- Joel Filani. Sr. - 65 catches, 1,048 yds, 16.1 ypc, 8 TD
FIlani is a  6-3, 222-pound playmaker who blew up at the Z position last season leading the Big 12 with an 87 yard-per-game average. While not a blazer, he has developed great hands after a rough start to his career, and is explosive cranking out 21 catches for 418 yards and four touchdowns over a two game span against Nebraska and Kansas State. Most importantly, he's a steady target who's great on third downs.

- Danny Amendola, Jr. - 34 catches, 395 yds, 11.6 ypc, 3 TD
An excellent punt returner and a quick H-Back, the 5-11, 176-pound junior isn't necessarily an explosive target considering his moves, but he's a good route runner with two years of experience in the attack. He's a bit limited compared to the rest of the receivers and could end up battling for time if one of the star reserves becomes too good to keep off the field.

-  Jarrett Hicks, Sr. - 65 catches, 1,048 yds, 13.1 ypc, 10 TD
Hicks has been one of the nation's top producing receivers over the last two seasons with moments of explosion and unstoppable stretches. He's great at finding his way in the end zone with 173 career grabs for 2,525 yards and 28 touchdowns. At 6-3 and 208 pounds, he's too physical for most defensive backs. At the X position, he has enough speed to be a solid deep threat.

- Robert Johnson, Sr. - 67 catches, 951 yds, 14.2 ypc, 4 TD
The former JUCO national champion quarterback recruit grew into the team's steadiest receiver last year at the inside Y position on the way to Second Team All-Big 12 honors. What has gone largely unnoticed has been his willingness to block. He started out the year with 17 catches for 338 yards and a touchdown against FIU and Sam Houston State and was reliable the rest of the way.

Top Backups
- Todd Walker, Soph. - 3 catches, 26 yds, 8.7 ypc
One of the team's fastest receivers, Walker has 4.28 speed and should eventually be a dangerous target at the X behind Jarrett Hicks. He got a little bit of work as a true freshman and should grow into a role as a kick returner as well as a receiver.
- L.A. Reed, Soph. - 11 catches, 136 yds, 12.4 ypc
Suspended from the Cotton Bowl, the big recruit of a few years ago is back and has all the makings of a top playmaker with 6-2, 203-pound size, 4.5 speed, and nice hands. He was mostly a big hitting special teamer, but he made a few big catches starting two games as the H Back. He'll start out as a bigger option behind Danny Amendola.
- Catron Houston, Soph. - 3 catches, 55 yds, 18.3 ypc
The speedy sophomore will combined with Edward Britton behind Joel FIlani at the Z. He's a bit faster than Filani and will eventually be a top producer. H
e's way too dangerous to just be used on special teams.

Offensive Linemen
Four starters return and there's plenty of great talent in reserve to potentially make this the best line yet under Mike Leach. Guard Manuel Ramirez is one of the Big 12's strongest players and will anchor the good line that has to be a big better in pass protection considering all the returning experience. The one open spot is at left guard, but it will be manned by what could turn into the two best players on the line in sophomore Louis Vasquez and star JUCO recruit Ola Mahetau. While the backups are mostly redshirt freshmen, they're extremely talented. Tackle Marlon Wynn and guard Brandon Carter could find starting spots somewhere early on.

The key to the unit: It's Texas Tech, so pass protection is everything. Yeah, there were 588 passing attempts, but it would be nice to get the sack total down from the 36 allowed last season.
Offensive Line Rating: 8

Projected Starters
- OT Glenn January, Sr.
January went from being a good special teams blocker to a decent starter on the left side. He's a tall, athletic 6-7 and 287 pounds with a good knowledge of the system, but he has to be stronger in pass protection and far more consistent to hold off hard-charging redshirt freshman Marlon Winn for the starting job.
- OG Louis Vasquez, Soph.
While listed as number one at left guard coming out of spring ball, that could be short lived with super-recruit Ofa Mahetau coming this fall. Vasquez is also a JUCO transfer who is built to grow into a strong pass blocker with good technique and decent feet for a 335-pound player. He was a solid recruit who, at the very least, will be a top backup at both guard spots.
- C Brandon Jones, Sr.
Jones returns to his starting spot the middle where he played in every game but one, but he has to get healthy. He's a big 6-3 and 309 pounds and was steady in pass protection. He's one of the team's quicker linemen and is expected to take a jump in production now that he knows what he's doing.
- OG Manuel Ramirez, Sr.
Back for his third year as a starter, the 6-4, 339-pound senior is one of the team's best linemen earning second-team All-Big 12 honors. He's next-level strong with a 550-pound bench press and has grown into a dominant run blocker.
- OT Gabe Hall, Sr.
Hall was one of the mainstays on the line starting every game but one at right tackle. He came to Texas Tech as a tight end and has grown into a top pass blocker. While he's not going dominate in the ground game, his feet and quickness make him ideal against speed rushers.

Top Backups
- OG Ofa Mahetau, Jr.
Arguably the nation's best guard recruit this year, Mahetau originally played eight games by BYU before getting hurt and going off to the JUCO ranks. Recruited by teams like USC and Florida, the 6-3, 340-pound mauler will push hard for the starting left guard job this fall.
- OG Brandon Carter, RFr.
One of the nation's top guard prospects last year, Carter ballooned up to 351 pounds after coming to Lubbock at a robust 320. He's a former defensive lineman who has decent athleticism and should be plenty tough for the ground game behind Manuel Ramirez and right guard.
- OT Marlon Winn, RFr.
Winn is the team's biggest tackle at 6-4 and 300 pounds getting the backup job behind Gabe Hall on the right side. He was a top recruit last season with excellent athleticism and is now much stronger after adding 15 pounds of muscle

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