Texas Tech Preview 2006 Further Analysis
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
1st and Ten – Still the Best?
– When you talk about some of the best units in the nation,
arguably, the best group of receivers in the nation resides in
Lubbock. Not Los Angeles, although the duo of Dwayne Jarrett
and Steve Smith are phenomenal. Not in Atlanta, although Calvin
Johnson is the best receiver in the nation. Lubbock. West
Texas, boys. Jarrett Hicks, Joel Filani, Robert Johnson and
Danny Amendola make up the best and deepest receiving crew
anywhere. Hicks, Filani and Johnson all had 65+ receptions in
2005, and Amendola will take some of the receptions that were
reserved for former running back dual threat Taurean Henderson.
Now, some will argue that if you throw the ball almost every
down, your receivers are going to pile up big numbers. But,
that’s only half the story. The mix of what each one brings to
the party, so to speak, is what gives them the moniker of “the
nation’s best”. Hicks is a long strider who will go up and get
the ball wherever it’s thrown. Filani is the play maker of the
bunch, a guy who will torch man coverage in a heartbeat.
Johnson is a former quarterback who has strong after the catch
skills. Amendola is quick as a hiccup and a perfect fit in the
slot, not to mention what he brings to the Red Raiders with his
return skills. Head coach Mike Leach would love to throw the
ball on every down and with this quartet, he might actually try
that this year. Maybe 80 catch seasons for all four aren’t out
of the realm of possibility with a 12 game season.
2nd and Seven – Say it ain’t
so, Mike – Kliff Kingsbury. BJ Symons. Sonny Cumbie. Cody
Hodges. What are seniors playing quarterback under Mike
Leach? Ding. Ding. Ding. Okay, here’s a new one – Graham
Harrell? Uh, wait, he’s a quarterback, but he’s not a senior.
Can he play QB at Tech this fall? Of course, he can, but it’s
just strange to see a sophomore taking snaps, but, Harrell is
not your run of the mill sophomore. The Texas high school
legend out of Ennis put some heat on Hodges last season before
Hodges pulled away to take the starting position. He has been
in the program for three years, so Harrell should have a solid
understanding of Leach’s offense. Now, he just has to stave off
Chris Todd, a redshirt freshman, for the starting spot this
year. A freshman? What in the name of Billy Joe Tolliver is
this world coming to? A freshman or a sophomore at QB? Say it
ain’t so, Billy Joe.
3rd and Three – Ol’ Reliable
is now gone – So many times over the past five years or so,
you’ve heard television commentators talk about the fact that
there are some players you don’t realize how valuable they were
until they were gone. That is not the case for former RB
Taurean Henderson. Red Raiders definitely know what they’ve
lost with Henderson moving on to the NFL. Although the Red
Raiders have, what, like two running plays, Henderson found a
way to take over games with his running, blocking and more
importantly receiving. So, how do you replace him? You don’t,
well, not with one guy. As mentioned above, Danny Amendola will
probably get more receiving touches from his slot/inside
receiver spot. Consequently, running backs Shannon Woods and
Taurance Rawls will have big shoes to fill in the running game.
What little there actually is of a running game.
and One – What the Red Raiders taketh, they also giveth away
– Entering last season, the one major strength that the Tech
defense possessed was its secondary. Entering this season, the
one major weakness that the defense possesses is its secondary.
It’s amazing how one year can change so much. The Red Raider
secondary, led by hard hitting nightmare Dwayne Slay, was solid
throughout the season allowing only 180 passing yards per game,
nearly two hundred yards less than what the Red Raiders
registered in the passing game. But, Slay, Vincent Meeks and
Khalid Naziruddin have left the proverbial building, leaving
only corner Antonio Huffman to return to the Red Raider
secondary. With so much ‘green’ in the back four, there could
be some serious track meets this year in the Big XII when Texas
Tech is in town.