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2009 CFN Texas Tech Preview
Texas Tech QB Taylor Potts
Texas Tech QB Taylor Potts
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 28, 2009


Graham Harrell might be gone along with Michael Crabtree, so Texas Tech will switch to a wishbone option offense and scrap the high-octane passing attack. Yeah, right. The Red Raiders, led by QB Taylor Potts, should keep the machine rolling with a good group of new stars. Check out the CFN 2009 Texas Tech Preview.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Preview 2009


By
Pete Fiutak

- 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 


Interested in blogging about Texas Tech football?  Let us know

Head coach: Mike Leach
10th year: 76-39
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 22, Def. 26, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best Tech Players
1. LB Brian Duncan, Jr.
2. CB Jamar Wall, Sr.
3. QB Taylor Potts, Jr.
4. NT Colby Whitlock, Jr.
5. WR Detron Lewis, Jr.
6. LB Marlon Williams, Sr.
7. WR Ed Britton, Sr.
8. LB Bront Bird, Jr.
9. OT Marlon Winn, Sr.
10. RB Baron Batch, Jr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 7-5
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 North Dakota
9/12 Rice
9/19 at Texas
9/26 at Houston
10/3 New Mexico
10/10 Kansas State
10/17 at Nebraska
10/24 Texas A&M
10/31 Kansas
11/7 OPEN DATE
11/14 at Oklahoma St
11/21 Oklahoma
11/28 Baylor (in Arl.)

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
11-1
2008 Record
: 11-2

8/30 Eastern Wash W 49-24
9/6 at Nevada W 35-19
9/13 SMU W 43-7
9/20 UMass W 56-14
9/27 OPEN DATE
10/4 at Kansas St W 58-28
10/11 Nebraska W 37-31 OT
10/18 at Texas A&M W 43-25
10/25 at Kansas W 63-21
11/1 Texas W 39-33
11/8 Oklahoma St W 56-20
11/15 OPEN DATE
11/22 at Oklahoma L 65-21
11/29 Baylor W 35-28
Cotton Bowl
1/2 Ole Miss L 47-34

Everyone knows Texas Tech is going to throw the ball a million times for a billion yards with a system that has been set in place and works well. The quarterback is going to be groomed for a year or three and then will be ready to go from day one when he turn comes up, the running backs will all be quick, darting producers who can catch, the offensive linemen will be gigantic and strong enough to hold off a pass rush for a three count, the secondary will go with speed above anything else, and the defensive front will be very big and will find one or two pass rushers from the JUCO ranks to fill a hole. That's how Mike Leach has set it up, and that's how Texas Tech has succeeded.

But now there's a question of whether or not the program can take another step forward and if the formula can be tweaked enough to get better. Everything came together last season with a veteran team that had everyone returning, an all-timer of a wide receiver in Michael Crabtree, and enough big moments and big plays to come within a game of playing for the Big 12 title and, likely, the national championship. What else can Texas Tech do? If a Big 12 title wasn't in the cards last year, will it ever be?

Leach will never get the players that Texas and Oklahoma can get, so it has to be up to the system and the style. The problem is that, given time, teams are going to start catching up to it. With a week or two to prepare in the middle of the season, there's no way to adequately get ready for the Red Raider attack. College kids, with all their other responsibilities, simply can't do it, and coaching staffs just don't have the time. So is should say something that Texas Tech has so many problems in bowl games, when the opponents have had over a month to focus and figure out how to handle the hurricane.

If Ole Miss played Texas Tech on November 1st instead of January 2nd, would it have been 47-34 Rebels? Probably not. Tech needed an all-timer of a comeback to beat Virginia in the 2008 Gator Bowl, needed one of the biggest miracles in college football history to slip by Minnesota in the 2006 Insight Bowl, and was shut down cold by Alabama in a 13-10 loss in the 2006 Cotton Bowl.

While some might say the Big 12 was exposed and the bowl games prove that Texas Tech was overrated, Leach, one of the most innovative head coaches in recent college football history, has to come up with something else. There has to be some new way to prepare, some new wrinkle, some new part of the puzzle to be able to get past Texas and Oklahoma (and this year, Oklahoma State).

This year's team might not have what it takes to get the elusive spot in the Big 12 title game, but it'll be better than many will think. No, the team isn't giving up after losing Graham Harrell, Michael Crabtree, and several key linemen.

Taylor Potts will be shaky at times, but he has the arm to put up huge numbers with a good backfield to throw to, and a nice set of receivers that will be fine, but not as explosive, without Crabtree. The defense will struggle at the corner and won't get a great pass rush, a deadly combination in the Big 12, but the linebacking corps will be fantastic.

Texas Tech will have another good season, a better 2010, and will be a blast to watch. Now the  program has to show it has the potential to do more.

What to look for on offense: An attitude. How many times do you think the offensive players and coaches will have to answer questions about what life will be like without Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree? How much fire will there be to prove to everyone that Texas Tech football can still produce and win without the two superstars? The nice part about it for Potts and the receiving corps is that the pressure will be off from everyone other than Leach. No one will expect last year to happen right away, but the numbers will still be there. Remember, this is also the program of B.J. Symons, Kliff Kingsbury, and Sonny Cumbie.
 
What to expect on defense: A desperate hope for a pass rush. After losing Brandon Williams to the NFL and McKinner Dixon to academic issues, the Red Raider line needs to figure out how to get into the backfield on a regular basis. Daniel Howard has a great burst and could be the breakout player on one side, while part-tackle, part-end Ra'Jon Henley will be counted on in a variety of ways. In a dream world, Brandon Sesay is half as good as his hype after coming out of the JUCO ranks last year.

This team will be much better if ... it can find a field goal kicker. Texas Tech was able to win the 2006 Insight Bowl and the 2008 Gator Bowl was from clutch kicks from Alex Trlica (along with monster performances from Harrell). The team was able to survive just fine without a good placekicker last year, but it got a bad year from Donnie Carona forcing Leach to pluck a student from the stands, Matt Williams, and give him a shot. Williams hit 2-of 3 field goals, but he doesn't have much range and didn't have to hit a pressure kick to save a game. The Red Raiders will lose at least one game this year unless the placekicking is better.
 
The Schedule: Tech always gets dogged for its non-conference schedule, and this is another one of those seasons. There's a road game at Houston, and that's about it with home layups against North Dakota, Rice, and New Mexico. However, the Big 12 opener at Texas was thrown into mid-September meaning the team had better be ready to fly after the game against the Owls. While the trip to Nebraska will be tough, the other two games against the North (Kansas State and Kansas) are at home, and there's no Missouri. The Red Raiders will try to gain a measure of revenge against Oklahoma in Lubbock in late November, but that comes after a trip to Oklahoma State. Helping the overall cause is a well-timed off-week on November 7th before facing the Cowboys.

Best Offensive Player: Junior QB Taylor Potts. Actually, he needs to be the best offensive play. Either WR Detron Lewis, OT Marlon Winn, or WR Ed Britton could be the most talented player, but Potts has to be the one who puts up the mega numbers and holds up against the criticism of his coach when he struggles in his first year as the starter. He has the NFL arm and the next-level upside, but he has to be consistent. A quarterback doesn't need a cannon to succeed as the Red Raider passer, but Potts has one. The offense can open it up a bit more down the field.

Best Defensive Player: Junior LB Brian Duncan. The leader of an excellent, unsung linebacking corps, Duncan moved to the middle last year and turned into the team's leading tackler. Excellent at getting around the ball and always making the open field stop, he's the one all the work will funnel to, and he'll get to everything else.

Key player to a successful season: Potts. Last year the passing game had a safety next behind Graham Harrell: Potts. Now, if Potts gets hurt or if he struggles, it's uh-oh time with former walk-on Steven Sheffield the next in line and redshirt freshman Seth Doege and sophomore Stefan Loucks pushing for the No. 2 job. As is, if Potts has a huge year, Texas Tech could finish second in the South. If Potts stinks or if he gets hurt, all bets are off.

The season will be a success if ... the Red Raiders win nine games. Considering the success of last year that might seem like a meek goal, but it would be a major success for Tech to get through the season with fewer than four losses. It'll take a bowl win to get to nine, and it'll also take at least two wins against Texas at Texas, Houston at Houston, Nebraska at Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma State in Stillwater, and Oklahoma. Baylor is hardly going to be a pushover, too.

Key game: Sept. 19 at Texas. All the pressure is off. No one outside of the Texas Tech locker room is going to think the Red Raiders have a prayer against a jacked up Longhorn team looking for revenge after last year's loss. However, that means Tech can be relaxed and let it loose in the Big 12 opener. This is the epitome of the puncher's chance game, and if Tech pulls it off, all of a sudden the landscape of the Big 12 season will have changed.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Sacks: Texas Tech 34 for 199 yards - Opponents 13 for 113 yards
- Passing touchdowns: Texas Tech 47 - Opponents 19
- Quarter by quarter TT scoring: 1st 153, 2nd 155, 3rd 122, 4th 133