Preview 2007 - Tech Offense
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2006 CFN Texas Tech
What you need to know: On the
surface, there might appear to be a world of problems. The
quarterback situation is allegedly up for grabs, the star
running back practiced like he was too secure and got booted to
third string, almost all the top receivers are gone, and four
starters have to be replaced on the line. Don't shed too many
tears. Graham Harrell had a great spring and will be the staring
quarterback once again, Shannon Woods will get back in
everyone's good graces this fall and be a top back, and Michael
Crabtree might be the best receiver the program has had in
several years. Of course, it all goes kaput if the line doesn't
come together quickly, but Mike Leach and his coaching staff
have dealt with worse. There might be question marks, but
there's also a whole bunch of talented prospects. This will be
one of the nation's five best passing offenses once again, but
it might not be consistent.
Passing: Graham Harrell
412-617, 4,555 yds, 38 TD, 11 INT
Rushing: Shannon Woods
152 carries, 926 yds, 10 TD
Receiving: Shannon Woods
75 catches, 572 yds, 2 TD
Star of the offense: Junior QB Graham Harrell
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior OT
Ryland Reed and sophomore OT Marlon Winn
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman WR Michael
Best pro prospect: Crabtree
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Harrell, 2) Crabtree,
3) RB Shannon Woods
Strength of the offense: Passing, passing, passing
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line, experienced backups
Projected Starter: While he occasionally had rough spots over
last year, struggled with his consistency, and was forced to win
his job back this spring, junior Graham Harrell will once
again be the triggerman of one of the nation's most amazing
attacks. He completed 67% of his passes for 4,555 yards and 38
touchdowns with 11 interceptions, but it wasn't until he led the
Red Raiders on an epic comeback over Minnesota in the Insight
Bowl, with a 445-yard, two touchdown performance that he all but
cemented himself in the role. He was lousy in the loss to TCU
and struggled in the bizarre loss to Colorado, but he caught
fire over the second half of the year with 19 touchdowns and
just four interceptions over the final six games. Now he has to
be consistent game in and game out, and not struggle so much in
so many first halves of games. While he's not a runner, he has a
good, accurate arm and a knack for coming through in the clutch.
Projected Top Reserve: With the transfer of backup
Chris Todd, redshirt freshman Taylor Potts, a top recruit
last year who could've gone almost anywhere, will be the top
number two option. At 6-5 and 210 pounds, he's a big passer with
a live arm and is perfect for the Texas Tech system. He's going
to push, and push hard, all season long for the starting job,
but he's still a step behind Harrell. At some point, and it
might not be until 2009, he's going to put up ungodly numbers.
Watch Out For ... Potts to see time at some point
this year. Mike Leach was this close to pulling Harrell
after the TCU and Colorado losses, and while he might have
mostly been blowing smoke, Potts is good enough to step in if
Harrell struggles for any stretch.
Strength: An upgrade in talent. No offense to B.J.
Symons and Kliff Kingsbury, but Tech has brought in a better
class of quarterbacks in Harrell and Potts. These are two
excellent talents who happen to be in the great system.
Weakness: Running. While hardly a prerequisite to
properly run the Red Raider offense, it would be nice if there
was even the threat of running the ball a little bit more than
just around the goal line.
Outlook: Don't be fooled by the alleged
quarterback controversy this spring; the job is Harrell's. He
was great in spring ball, and too good to finish up last year to
go with Potts right now. Potts is the more talented player with
the bigger upside, but with so many changes being made in the
receiving corps, the offense needs a veteran like Harrell
running the show.
Projected Starter: Despite running for 926 yards and ten
touchdowns, and finishing third on the team with 75 catches for
572 yards and two scores, junior Shannon Woods, who led
the Big 12 in yards, was second on the depth chart (and
third for a while) coming out of spring ball. That'll change
early on this fall as long as the speedster's motor is running
to Mike Leach's liking. In a bit of a doghouse for not playing
the way the coaching staff would like, he was sent a clear
message that more was needed out of him, considering he's one of
the few returning starters to the attack. With 4.4 speed, decent
size (5-11, 195 pounds) and good kick return ability, he's too
good to not be the main man again.
Projected Top Reserve: At the moment, speedy 5-6,
173-pound sophomore Kobey Lewis is the number one back
coming out of spring. While that'll likely change, at the very
least he'll be a key player in the rotation. He ran for 24 yards
and caught six passes for 20 yards, and while he's a lightning
bug of a runner, he's not big enough to handle the full-time
Watch Out For ... the Woods demotion to be no big
deal. Woods was mediocre in 2006 spring ball, and things turned
out just fine. He'll crank out 1,500 rushing/receiving yards
Strength: Tremendous quickness. By design, the Red
Raider backs aren't big, but they can dart through holes like a
bolt of lightning. Woods is simply fast, Lewis can cut on a
dime, and sophomore Ryan Hayes, the likely third man in the mix,
can also move.
Weakness: Uncertainty. If these are more than just
veiled threats and Woods really is second, or even third, on the
depth chart, there will be issues early on. He was too integral
a part of the offense last year to simply be cast aside; Lewis
isn't as good.
Outlook: It'll sure be an interesting fall. Woods
has the makeup to be an All-Big 12 star, but as the demotion
showed, a little more work and a lot more effort could make him
tremendous. The offense will need to lean on him early until all
the new receivers get their feet wet. Lewis, and maybe even
Hayes, might see a little bit of time, but last year Woods
carried the ball 152 times. The second leading back carried it
Projected Starters: The Red Raiders are starting from near
scratch with the loss of 180 catches, 2,171 yards, and 24
touchdowns of production from Joel Filani and Robert Johnson.
That puts the pressure on veteran senior Danny Amendola,
a solid inside target, to step up and be more productive. While
he's not nearly the player Filani and Johnson were, he's a
reliable route runner with excellent quickness and great hands.
Fourth on the team with 48 catches for 487 yards and five
touchdowns, he'll have to do even more early on taking over for
Johnson at the Y.
Moving into Amendola's spot at the H will be 5-8, 171-pound
junior Eric Morris, who was fifth on the team with 25
catches for 347 yards and a touchdown. While he's not all that
big, he's quick, a good route runner, and he finds ways to get
open. He'll grow into a reliable third down receiver.
Replacing Filani at the outside Z will be the star of spring
ball, redshirt freshman Michael Crabtree. A superstar
recruit two years ago, he sat out last year with academic
issues, but now all is well and he looked the part of a number
one target by making big play after big play in spring ball,
finishing up with a brilliant spring game. He's 6-3, 222 pounds,
and incredibly speedy on deep routes. It's not a stretch to say
he's the most talented receiver to come through Lubbock in the
At the other outside position, the X, will be junior L.A.
Reed, a one-time top recruit who's mostly made a name for
himself on special teams. He looks the part with a 6-2,
201-pound frame and with tremendous speed, but he has yet to put
it all together and become a weapon in the attack making just 12
catches for 157 yards and two touchdowns last year. As good as
he might end up being as a receiver, he's too valuable as a
special teamer to not continue to be the team's top gunner.
Projected Top Reserves: Even though the offense is
looking for several new starters, there are some decent backups
to rely on, most notably 6-0, 186-pound senior Grant Walker.
The former transfer from Purdue made 23 catches for 264 yards,
and now he'll play at the Y behind Amendola.
With some of the best wheels on the team, 6-1, 173-pound
sophomore Edward Britton might play a bigger role at the
X behind Reed. The former running back was a star,
national-caliber sprinter in high school, and he has a little
bit of experience with ten catches for 131 yards and a touchdown
Two true freshmen, 6-0, 168-pound Lyle Leong and 6-0,
185-pound Detron Lewis
could quickly find their way into the mix. Lewis is the more
talented of the two with excellent quickness, good playmaking
ability with the ball in his hands, and a nose for the goal
Watch Out For ... the loss of Filani, Johnson, and
Jarrett Hicks to not be that big a deal. The expected emergence
of Crabtree should help ease the transition, while Reed has to
live up to his potential.
Strength: The system. It's a bit too simplistic to
say you could take any average receiver, plug him into the Texas
Tech offense, and he'd produce, but you can take any average
receiver, plug him into the Texas Tech offense, and he'll
produce. The Red Raiders have a few who are beyond just average
in Crabtree and Reed.
Weakness: A true number one. Amendola is more of a
complementary receiver than a one, so if Crabtree is it, or f
the light doesn't go on for Reed, there could be problems.
Outlook: It's Texas Tech. The receivers will catch
over 400 passes for close to 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns.
Crabtree will be the new star, Amendola will be a steady force,
and everyone else will work around them to put up another huge
Projected Starters: Only one starter returns, but he's a good
one. 6-6, 351-pound junior Louis Vasquez started almost every
game last year at left guard, and while he's huge, he's athletic enough
to be moved to tackle. While he'll be a better prospect to move outside
if he gets to around 335, or even 340, he might have to make the switch
after a rough spring from sophomore left tackle Marlon Winn.
While he has a world of upside, and a great 6-5, 329-pound frame that's
built to be a top tackle, he almost got the quarterbacks killed this
off-season. He'll be great in time, but will he get it, or will the
coaching staff do some shuffling? That'll be one of the big offensive
question marks in fall practice.
In the middle for Brandon Jones will be 6-3, 303-pound sophomore
Shawn Byrnes, who is a bit green after playing in just three games
as a backup. He's a big blocker who'll be in the middle of the line for
the next three years, but he'll have some rocky spots early on in pass
For now, 6-3, 290-pound junior Stephen Hamby will be the new
right guard, but he'll be in a battle this fall. The walk-on did just
enough when given the opportunity to earn the starting spot, but he's a
limited all-around blocker who'll be better in a steady rotation.
At right tackle will be junior Rylan Reed, one of the best
athletes on the line. The former tight end is 6-7, 290 pounds, and moves
like a much smaller player. He's had to pack on the pounds to become a
possible regular for the front five, but he did it, and now he's ready
to be a starter.
Projected Top Reserves: Pushing for a spot this
fall will be 6-6, 356-pound sophomore Brandon Carter, a too big
prospect at right guard who would've likely been the starter had he not
had back problems and lost the job to Hamby. He came to Tech as one of
the nation's top guard prospects, played well as a reserve last year,
and even got a start at right guard, and should be a regular starter at
some point this year.
It would be a big help to the line if 6-5, 299-pound redshirt freshman
Chris Olson came on to be a factor at left tackle. Winn will be a
major player for the program in time, but considering he needs work,
Olson could be a nice stopgap. At the very least, he needs to give the
coaching staff another option so it doesn't need to move Vasquez over.
Watch Out For ... a drop-off in production. With so
much turnover and so little to count on, it's inevitable for the line to
take a hit after being so good last year. It'll take at least a few
games to find the right combination.
Strength: Size. You'd think a line that has to
protect the passer would be smaller, quicker, and more athletic. That's
not necessarily the case with the projected starting five averaging well
over 300 pounds.
Weakness: Backups. The starting lineup is a
question mark, much less the reserve. Former star prospect Ofa Mohetau
left the team, Carter needs to get healthy, and all the good young
redshirt freshmen have to grow up quickly.
Outlook: A major strength last year, the line was
terrific allowing just 19 sacks in 656 pass attempts. Now there's a
major concern early on with all the new starters and all the new faces.
Making things even more difficult is the loss of line coach Jack
Bicknell, who bolted for Boston College. It'll be a new coach, Matt
Moore, with new players, trying to keep the quarterback clean.