Indispensable: absolutely necessary.
This is not a team's most valuable player or a team's most important player, but players on a team that you just can't live without. We're going to run through the top 10 most indispensable Texas Tech Red Raiders. I started the list last night and already have gone through a number of revisions in my head, removed some names and added a few. I would love to reserve the right to move some of these players around, but I don't have that luxury, I've made promises.
Player: Shannon Woods
Position: Running Back
I'm not sure if this was a lay-up of a pick or a difficult pick. On one hand, he's the starting running back and no other runner really contributed last year. Of course, on the other hand, it sounds like Captain Leach is willing to go through the season without him.
Personally, I don't think there's any way that Leach doesn't utilize Woods in the same manner as last year, and according to the DTN voters, he'll have a similar season to last year. I think he'll have a better season so long as he shapes up. My rational is that Tech finally has some wide receivers who can stretch the field (Britton, Detron Lewis, and Crabtree) which will hopefully create more lanes for Woods to find some space.
But lets consider the alternatives. Behind Woods is sophomore Kobey Lewis, who is small in stature at 5'5" and weighs 173 pounds, and has seen almost no action. Lewis was fairly effective in the spring and this is what led Leach to name Lewis as the starter, but he's just so damn small, I'm not sure if he can withstand an entire Big 12 season as the starter. Lewis did display some quickness and I think that he'd make a great change of pace back, but once again his size could be a real detriment, especially if he has to help pass protect. Aside from that, he has little experience, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, Woods had little experience coming into this year, but he does have size.
Baron Batch was injured all spring and he was effectively Woods' primary backup last year. And when I say primary backup I mean that he had a total of 9 carries for 46 yards. I don't expect Batch to see much time this, but if he does it will be because he's completely rehabilitated and ready for the fall. I haven't heard one way or another on Batch, but I'm hedging my bets that he's not part of the mix.
Jarel Flannel is the perfect redshirt candidate this year. He was injured almost his entire senior season so it's been a while since he's seen the field. I'd like to give him the entire year to heal and give him time to adjust to college life, but more importantly, I think that Batch could take the same path as Ed Britton. Pretty good speed (4.5 in the 40)and decent height (6'0") makes me think that he could be a pretty good wide receiver. I'm just throwing it out there, I've got nothing to base this thought on other than a guess.
Aaron Crawford is the enigma here. I love his size and from the videos I've seen of the kid he's got moves and speed, oh and he's got more crazy speed with moves. If I were Woods, he'd be the one kid I'd be worried about because he's got lots of talent (it's not that the aforementioned players don't, but Crawford's got that extra "something"). The problem of course is that Crawford is merely a freshman and he'll be learning on the job.
There's a reason why Shannon Woods kicks off my "Texas Tech's Top 10 Most Indispensable Players" list, and it's because much of the offense's success will depend on a solid but not spectacular running game, which will take some of the pressure off of Graham Harrell and the rest of the offensive line. The options behind Woods aren't bad, but he's clearly the best option going forward.