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2008 CFN Texas Tech Preview
Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell
Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 20, 2008


500 passing yards a game. It seems insane, right? Considering Graham Harrell and Texas Tech averaged 470 yards per game last year and get ten starters back on offense, including Michael Crabtree, the numbers should be astronomical. Check out the CFN Red Raider Preview.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Preview 2008


By
Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Texas Tech Preview | 2008 Texas Tech Offense

- 2008 Texas Tech Defense | 2008 Texas Tech Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Texas Tech Preview | 2006 CFN Texas Tech Preview 

Head coach: Mike Leach
9th year: 65-37
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 26, Def. 29, ST 6
Lettermen Lost: 13
Ten Best Tech Players
1. WR Michael Crabtree, Soph.
2. QB Graham Harrell, Sr.
3. DE Brandon Williams, Jr.
4. FS Darcel McBath, Sr.
5. OG Louis Vasquez, Sr.
6. CB Jamar Wall, Soph.
7. OT Marlon Winn, Jr.
8. NT Colby Whitlock, Soph.
9. WR Edward Britton, Jr.
10. LB Brian Duncan, Soph.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
11-1
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 30 Eastern Washington
Sept. 6 at Nevada
Sept. 13 SMU
Sept. 20 UMass
Sept. 27 OPEN DATE
Oct. 4 at Kansas State
Oct. 11 Nebraska
Oct 18 at Texas A&M
Oct. 25 at Kansas
Nov. 1 Texas
Nov. 8 Oklahoma State
Nov. 15 OPEN DATE
Nov. 22 at Oklahoma
Nov. 29 Baylor

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
8-4
2007 Record:
9-4

Sept. 1 at SMU W 49-9
Sept. 8 UTEP W 45-31
Sept. 15 at Rice W 59-24
Sept. 22 at Okla St L 49-45
Sept. 29
NW State W 75-7
Oct. 6 Iowa State W 42-17
Oct. 13 Texas A&M W 35-7
Oct. 20 at Missouri L 41-10
Oct. 27
Colorado L 31-26
Nov. 3 at Baylor W 38-7
Nov. 10 at Texas L 59-43
Nov. 17 Oklahoma W 34-27
Gator Bowl
Jan. 1 Virginia W 31-28

Alright, Texas Tech, it’s time to pull up your chair to the big boy table and show that you belong.

There’s been plenty of success, some nice moments, and lots and lots of fireworks in head coach Mike Leach’s nine-year run, but he’s never had everything come together for a perfect storm of a season like this year should be. In a division with heavyweights like Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M, and when the Big 12 is as strong as it’s ever been, Tech has to take advantage of the opportunity and finally win the South. Basically, if it doesn’t happen now, it never will.

Tech has always had the offense system, but unlike past years when there were marginally skilled players putting up ungodly numbers (Sonny Cumbie? How about B.J. Symons?), now there are some major talents running the show. QB Graham Harrell isn’t just a cog in the system; he’d be a productive passer anywhere. Michael Crabtree is the best receiver the school has ever produced, and that includes Wes Welker. With ten starters returning to the high-octane attack, and good reserves waiting in the wings, there won’t be any stopping the explosion.          
 
The big difference between this year’s Tech team is the defense. It has one. While it doesn’t have the talent to be among the best in the Big 12, the line is tremendous and the back seven has the speed to run the aggressive style that should do just enough to keep opposing teams under 50 points. As crazy as it might sound, that’s all it should take on most days to come away with the win. The offense is that good. 
 
Now the experience, the talent, the system, and the coaching all have to come together to be consistent. Yeah, there was the great win over Oklahoma last year, but there was also a stunning home loss to a mediocre Colorado team. There was the dominant win over Texas A&M, but there was also a defensive meltdown against Oklahoma State and Texas.

Tech might not be the best team in the Big 12, Oklahoma should be, but with the veterans returning, there’s no reason not to have the same effort and the same performances game-in-and-game-out. That’s what the powerhouses do. That’s what this Tech team is on the verge of doing.

What to look for on offense: Jaw-dropping production. If experience means the world from one year to the next in college football, then this veteran team should go ballistic. There’s a reason most of the past ultra-productive Texas Tech quarterbacks were seniors; it took them years to figure out what they were doing. Harrell is a three-year starter and the leader of the nation’s best passing attack. He had two games last year with under 400 passing yards. One of them was against Northwestern State when he threw for 338 yards and five touchdowns in the first half and sat down. The other was a 397-yard day against Missouri. 500-yard days might be the norm.
 
What to expect on defense: Plenty of pressure. Considering the offense the Red Raiders will throw out there, it’s not going to take a lot of defense to win game, but defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeal isn’t going to sit back and take it easy. He has a tremendous line to work with and there should be lots of sacks, lots of big plays, and lots of tackles for loss.

This team will be much better if … it can stop somebody from running the football. The Red Raiders finished dead last in America in rushing, but it should be able to run if it wants to. With the passing game it has returning, it won’t want to. Coming up with more defensive stops against power running teams will be a must after allowing 177 yards per game. Five Big 12 teams gained over 200 yards, with Oklahoma State tearing off 366, and Virginia ran for 249. Tech was 6-0 when holding teams to under 200.
 
The Schedule: It's Texas Tech, so the non-conference schedule isn't going to be much more than an exhibition of fireworks. The loaded, veteran Red Raiders could hang 100 on Eastern Washington, SMU and UMass if they want to, and if they're as good as expected, they should be able to handle a trip to Nevada without a problem. Those four tune-ups followed up by an off-week should have the team ready for a tough Big 12 opener at Kansas State to kick off a stretch of three road games in four weeks. While going to Kansas is hardly a plus, the schedule has even more breaks with Texas coming to Lubbock and a week off before going to Oklahoma. Closing out the year with Baylor should put a cap on a nice record.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Graham Harrell & Sophomore WR Michael Crabtree. Harrell will be in the hunt for the Heisman while Crabtree might be a mortal lock for a second straight Bilitnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver. Crabtree cranked out 134 catches for 1,962 yards and 22 touchdowns, while Harrell threw for 5,705 yards and 48 touchdowns. It’ll be a disappointment if those ridiculous stats aren’t even better this year.

Best Defensive Player: Junior DE Brandon Williams. On a team that makes national news with its offense, the star defensive players get lost in the shuffle. That’ll happen again, but Williams should still be a breakout star as an elite pass rusher who’ll be turned loose in the aggressive defensive scheme.

Key player to a successful season: Junior WR Edward Britton. Every defense will put everyone and the waterboy on Crabtree; someone has to take advantage of the lack of attention. Britton made 48 catches for 631 yards and four scores as a reserve and was a star kickoff returner, and now the superstar high school sprinter has to use his speed to make teams pay. First he has to catch the ball; his hands are suspect, at best.

The season will be a success if ... the Red Raiders get to the BCS. It’s time. There’s too much returning talent, too much of an improvement on defense, and too much firepower on offense to settle for anything less than a trip to one of the big games. It’s not like Oklahoma and Texas are ever going to go away, so if Big 12 title contention isn’t going to happen this year for Tech, it’s probably never going to.

Key game: Nov. 22 at Oklahoma. The last time Oklahoma lost at home to Texas Tech was 1996, and that 3-8 team was a far, far cry to the one shooting for the national title this season. After last year's 34-27 loss in Lubbock, this will be a circle game on OU's calendar, and if everything goes as dreamed for the Red Raiders, this could be the game for the Big 12 South title, and maybe more.

2007 Fun Stats: 
 - Red zone touchdowns: Texas Tech 51 of 68 (75%) – Opponents 25 of 44 (57%)
 - Average passing yards per game: Texas Tech 470.3 – Opponents 188.4
 - Penalties: Texas Tech 101 for 933 yards – Opponents 83 for 757