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2009 Texas Tech Preview - Offense
Texas Tech WR Detron Lewis
Texas Tech WR Detron Lewis
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 28, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Texas Tech Red Raider Offense

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Preview 2009 - Tech Offense

- 2009 CFN Texas Tech Preview | 2009 Texas Tech Offense
- 2009 Texas Tech Defense | 2009 Texas Tech Depth Chart
- 2008 TT Preview | 2007 TT Preview | 2006 TT Preview 

What you need to know: There will be the inevitable drop-off after losing a quarterback the caliber of Graham Harrell and an all-timer of a receiver in Michael Crabtree, but Tech will still have one of the nation's top passing offenses, it'll still put up a bazillion points, and it'll still be good enough to rise up and beat anyone on a given day. Taylor Potts is a more talented quarterback than Harrell with a bigger arm and better pro upside, but he has to be far, far better than he was this offseason. Head coach Mike Leach praised Potts throughout spring ball, but the consistency wasn't always there. The receiving corps will be more than fine despite the loss of Crabtree, and the backfield is loaded, by Texas Tech rushing standards, with three very quick, very good backs in Baron Batch, Harrison Jeffers, and Aaron Crawford. There will be question marks on the line with several new starters in the mix, but it's a big line that should be solid with a little bit of time. It won't be as good as last year's line, but it'll be fine.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Taylor Potts
23-36, 260 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Baron Batch
113 carries, 758 yards, 7 TD
Receiving: Detron Lewis
76 catches, 913 yds, 3 TD

Star of the offense: Junior QB Taylor Potts
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior OT/OG Chris Olson
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman WR Alex Torres
Best pro prospect: Senior OT Marlon Winn
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Potts, 2) WR Detron Lewis, 3) Winn
Strength of the offense: Passing game, Quick backs
Weakness of the offense:
Line experience, New quarterback

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter
:
It's Taylor Potts' turn at bat. The 6-5, 215-pound junior is the next Texas Tech passing star-to-be, and he's ready to shine right away with a bigger arm than Graham Harrell and the time in the system to know what he's doing. He has seen a little bit of time over the last few years, completing 23-of-36 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns with an interception last season, highlighted by a garbage-time 5-of-5, 60-yard, one score drive against Oklahoma State. While Harrell was a fringe Heisman candidate, Potts has NFL potential with the ability to make every throw on the field.

Projected Top Reserve: While Potts is the clear-cut starter, Mike Leach at least threw open the idea that Steven Sheffield would get a shot to show what he could do. The 6-4, 187-pound junior has been the No. 3 quarterback for the last two seasons, getting a little bit of work two years ago, but he didn't see the field last season and has mostly been a scout teamer. The former walk-on knows what he's doing in the system, but he's not Potts.

Sophomore Stefan Loucks isn't all that big at just 6-1 and 171 pounds, and he doesn't fit the Texas Tech mold, but he can throw. The former Arkansas high school star threw for 13,701 career yards and 147 touchdowns, but he'll have to fight with Seth Doege for the No. 3 job. A great recruit last year, the 6-2, 207-pound redshirt freshman is an accurate passer who can throw it all over the field. However, he hasn't played in three years having injury issues over his final two years in high school. The 2,439-yard, 27 touchdown sophomore season, and his upside, were enough to get him interest from several big-time programs.
 
Watch Out For ... Potts to be more than fine in place of Harrell. He'll make more mistakes than the long-time starter did, but he'll also make more throws and will open up the deep game.
Strength: It's Texas Tech. Mike Leach doesn't just throw anyone out there at quarterback. The system works perfectly with a passer getting time to learn and figure out how to make the reads, and then he's unleashed on the world. Potts is ready.
Weakness: Experience. Potts has seen mop-up work here and there, at least enough to have gotten his feet wet, but he hasn't had any pressure on him in a real game. There's no experience whatsoever among the reserves.
Outlook: It's not like Texas Tech will go to the wishbone now that Harrell is gone. Potts will throw for around 4,500 yards and over 35 touchdowns, but he needs to stay healthy. There's a huge drop-off from Potts to the backups, and unlike last year when there was a good No. 2 in place, there will be problems if injuries of ineffectiveness strike.
Rating: 8

Running Backs

Projected Starter
:
Junior Baron Batch had some issues with an Achilles heel injury going into last season, but he was fine from the start and finished with a team-high 758 yards with seven touchdowns, and he caught 45 passes for 449 yards and a score. Very consistent and very productive, he was almost certain to run for 50 yards and catch 3-to-5 balls a game for big gains. With 4.4 speed, he can crank out yards in chunks, averaging 6.7 yards per carry and ten yards per grab. and at 5-11 and 200 pounds, he can provide a little bit of pop. He's always working, always doing the little things the team needs, and he's always coming through

Projected Top Reserve:  Ready to explode on the scene is Harrison Jeffers, a 5-9, 210-pound redshirt freshman who can fly. He was an Oklahoma high school track star running a 10.28 in the 100 meters and is a perfect fit for the Red Raider offense with excellent hands and a burst through the hole whenever he gets the ball. He showed enough this offseason to be No. 1A in the running back rotation.

5-11, 199-pound sophomore Aaron Crawford was never right last year seeing time in just two games and gaining 26 yards and a touchdown. His shoulder injury kept him out of the mix this offseason, but when he's right, he has the ability to be a star in the system with big-time speed and good power through the hole. However, along with the shoulder, he has fumbling problems. If he can't hang on to the ball, he can't be a part of the rotation. Even so, he's experienced with 38 catches for 246 yards and two touchdowns two years ago to go along with 214 rushing yards and four scores.

If and when the offense ever uses a fullback, it'll be up to Ryan Hale to step in. He'll never get any carries, but he might catch a pass or two, making one grab for four years. The 6-1, 227-pound senior will be a blocker when he gets in. That's all.
 
Watch Out For ... Jeffers. Texas Tech likes darting fast runners who can catch the ball. Jeffers is faster and is a better receiver than most of the backs in the Mike Leach era, and he can run, too. He's the perfect fit.
Strength: Tremendous quickness. By design, the coaching staff gets a certain type of back. They're all around 5-11 and 200 pounds, they can all catch, and they can all cut on a dime. Batch, Jeffers and Crawford can all produce.
Weakness: The offense. Again, by design, the backs aren't going to get too many carries, but they'll average over five yards a pop every time they touch it. While the running game has been a nice complement to the high octane passing attack over the years, it'll have to do more this season with a new quarterback under center. Defenses, at least early on, will dare Taylor Potts to throw it and will load up, at least a little bit more, against the run.
Outlook: For what Texas Tech wants to do running the ball, the backs are in place. Batch is excellent, Jeffers has the chance to be special, and Crawford, when he's right, can produce. The running game will average just over 100 yards per game, but the backs will all catch and they'll all crank out yards in big chunks.
Rating: 7


Receivers

Projected Starters
:
Michael Crabtree might be gone, but there are talented players waiting to step in. Looking to become the new star of the passing game will be Detron Lewis, a 6-0, 209-pound junior who averaged 12 yards per grab, just like Crabtree, and finished second on the team with 76 catches for 913 yards and three touchdowns. A physical, precise route runner on the inside, he was steady throughout the year with only one game catching fewer than four passes. While he only had one 100-yard game and two of his three scores came late in the regular season, he has the make-up to do more and be a No. 1 go-to target.

On the outside will be Ed Britton, a backup last year who caught 35 passes for 577 yards and six scores, averaging 16.5 yards per grab. He made 48 catches as a reserve in 2007 and is ready to get a lot more work thrown his way. The 6-0, 175-pound senior is a former running back an was a superstar high school sprinter on a national scale, and he has the potential to stretch the field even more. Now he has to be consistent. He caught two touchdown passes against Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl and caught seven balls for 139 yards against Texas, but he caught three passes over the final three games of the regular season.

It'll be an ongoing battle for the flanker job, but at the moment, 6-2, 195-pound redshirt freshman Alex Torres appears to have the inside track. Originally part of the Air Force, he broke his hand, transferred to Texas Tech, and now appears to be ready for big things after a good spring and showing off the speed needed to stretch the field. He might not be a No. 1 option, but he'll have a few explosive games when he can't be stopped.

Sophomore Tramain Swindall will start out at the other inside spot along with Detron Lewis. At 6-2 and 175 pounds, he has good size and is extremely physical. While he was an all-star receiver in high school, he was also a big hitter at corner. Last year he showed off his potential by finishing fourth on the team with 46 catches for 561 yards and two scores, highlighted by a seven-catch, 101-yard day against Texas A&M. Despite his reserve status, he was steady and consistent catching fewer than three passes in just two games

Projected Top Reserves: Battling with Alex Torres for the flanker job will be Jacoby Franks, a 6-1, 194-pound sophomore who saw a little time catching six passes for 58 yards. While he's not the team's most talented receiver, he's smooth, can get down the field, and has the upside to stretch the field and make big plays as the fourth or fifth receiving option.

One of the team's most interesting prospects is Adrian Reese. The junior doesn't just have tremendous speed, but he's 6-7 and 207 pounds with a world of upside. More like a tight end than a big receiver, he has made a few plays in his career, catching ten passes so far, but he didn't do anything last year and now is fighting to get in the mix. His skills are too good to not do more.

Somewhere in the equation will be 6-1, 165-pound junior Lyle Leong, a starter for 12 games last season making 18 catches for 206 yards and three touchdowns. However, he missed all of spring ball for undisclosed reasons and will have to fight to get a starting spot back. He didn't do enough when he got his chances, but he has the experience and the athleticism to be a big producer on the outside now that Crabtree is gone. 
 
Watch Out For ... Torres. He was the talk of spring ball making plays all over the field and looking strong enough to be an explosive element for the high-octane passing attack. While he won't be a go-to target, he should emerge as a statistical star in a few games.
Strength: It's Texas Tech. Yes, the players make the system go, but the coaching and the system don't hurt the players. Britton and Lewis have been around long enough to go from being out of the Crabtree limelight to into the forefront. They're good enough to make up for the lost production.
Weakness: Michael Crabtree. Two years, 231 catches, 3,127 yards, 41 touchdowns, one rushing score, two Biletnikoff awards. Texas Tech has talent returning, but it doesn't have a Crabtree.
Outlook: The receiving corps will be more than fine without Mr. 49er, and it could actually, in an efficiency sort of way, be more complete. No, you don't get better by losing a star of Crabtree's magnitude, but it's not like the cupboard is bare now that he's gone. Lewis was the team's second leading receiver, Swindall was fourth, Britton averaged 16.5 yards per catch, and there are plenty of good targets waiting to emerge.
Rating: 8

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
:
There will be plenty of shuffling around to try to find the right fits for the right spots. At the moment, 6-5, 295-pound junior Chris Olson will take over Rylan Reed's left tackle spot. However, Olson is a far better guard than he is a tackle, but he's good enough to hold his own at the all-important position. He was a backup last year in seven games, seeing most of his work at guard and on special teams, but he was a big-time tackle recruit who should shine now that he'll get a starting spot.

If Olson stays at tackle, it'll be up to Brandon Carter to take over for Louis Vasquez at left guard. A massive 6-7, 340-pound veteran, he started every game at right guard, could move to tackle if needed, and will likely settle in to a spot on the left side where he'll use his bulk as a devastating run blocker. He has earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors, and can move well for his size. Now he has to stay healthy after having problems with his knee.

With Carter moving sides, 6-7, 320-pound sophomore Mickey Okafor will look to take over at right guard after seeing three games of action. He's a very big, very strong blocker who has just enough athleticism to play tackle with the bulk to be a guard. He's a pass blocker, and he should be a good one on the interior. He'll be tried out on both the right and left sides, but he's a better fit for the right.

The one returning starter who's all but certain to stay in his spot is Marlon Winn, a 6-6, 325-pound senior who took over the starting gig two years ago and hasn't let it go. A tremendous pass blocking right tackle, Winn earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors and he should be the anchor of the line this year.

Senior Shawn Bynes has the ability to be a rock-solid center, and he has been great when he's been on the field, but he can't stay healthy. He only played in six games last year, starting once, and he has been hurt throughout his career to the point of being unreliable. However, he's incredibly strong, has been around the block, and has good size at 6-4 and 290 pounds. 

Projected Top Reserves: In a perfect world, Terry McDaniel becomes a steady force at left tackle and Chris Olson can move to guard. The 6-7, 330-pound redshirt freshman will eventually be the starter on the outside, and it could happen as soon as fall camp breaks. Extremely tough and a fantastic pass protector in high school, he has all the tools to become a good one. He'll get every chance.

One of the only experienced backups is Lonnie Edwards, a 6-5, 288-pound sophomore who saw time in six games and can be used in a variety of ways. Built like a tackle, he can move outside if needed, but he'll start out working in the left guard rotation and will see action on special teams.
 
Watch Out For ... shuffling. A lot of shuffling. The parts are there, but it's a question of how the coaching staff wants to put them all together. Olson, Carter, and McDaniel will all be a part of the mix on the left side, but in what way?
Strength: Pass protection. It doesn't matter who's up front, the Tech line always keeps the quarterback clean. It's not just the system; it's vital for the line to be good to give the quarterback time to make a third and fourth read. Tech allowed 13 sacks in 457 passing attempts.
Weakness: Veterans. The line loses two all-stars in Rylan Reed and Louis Vasquez and has to hope that Olson, Byrnes, and Okafor are ready for bigger roles.
Outlook: The unsung strength of the offense for the last few years, the line has been a rock in pass protection and has been great for the running game when needed. While the players had a lot to do with that, Leach and the coaching staff appears to have figured out how to come up with an ultra-productive line. There are concerns regarding the right mix of players, and there's nothing to count on among the reserves, at least right away, but the line will be fine with a little time and some tweaking.
Rating: 7