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Texas Tech and the Big 12 Media Day - Quotes from Coach Leach

Captain Leach was in rare form today as he mused on a number of topics, some relating to Texas Tech football and others not. Players invited to join Coach Leach were Danny Amendola, Joe Garcia and Alex Trlica. The Big 12 official website has video (IE only and it's free) and the transcript of Coach Leach's press conference. Perhaps my favorite quote from the entire press conference was the following:

I think how the team as a unit goes is what's going to be most important. I think certainly in this day and age it's easy to lose sight of teams as opposed to individuals. But one great example we had as far as team effort was our game against Minnesota. Late in the third quarter we're down 31 points. Individuals didn't win that game. The Red Raiders as a team won that game and how powerful a team can play together and do in a short period of time, you extend that over full games, full seasons, things like that, I think the key is to understand that and embrace that challenge and see how far you can take it.

That's a powerful message. I hope the team is listening.

If there's any doubt about how Coach Leach views Graham Harrell then such questions should end now. Graham had an amazing year last year and I know that folks like to dismiss that he plays for a coach with a system, but I think Harrell deserves a ton of credit for having such a good year as young as he was. I know there were 2 or 3 games where he didn't perform to his expectations, but being a quarterback is a process. It takes time and now we, as Texas Tech fans, have one of the more accurate passers in the country and he threw 38 touchdowns in his first year as a starter. Here's Leach on Harrell:

And I think that he's somewhat overshadowed by the work of his predecessors at Texas Tech. After a point it becomes taken for granted that you're going to have a level of success throwing the ball at our place, which he did. But I think if you look at what he accomplished and what he did at his age and certainly some of the things that as a team we did and some of the key things that he was involved with there, I think he's as impressive as the guys that we've had at our place in the past and I think will continue to improve.

But I think he had a heck of a year last year. It's funny, because as people talk about quarterbacks, they have a funny way of dismissing the additional 2,000 yards that he threw for. So I guess his don't count (chuckling). If he's not one of the better quarterbacks in the country I'd like to know who is. I wouldn't trade it for anybody in the conference. But with that said, I think what's best about him is that he does a great job as far as making the team, players around him better. Because it's what you accomplish as a team that ultimately is going to count, and I think he does a really good job as far as that goes. And I think he continues to improve.

Leach thinks the defense is more athletic and the secondary is going to be a good group. Leach doesn't think that the defense should be so quickly dismissed as a team weakness:

But I think the fact that they haven't been around as many years, a lot of them played significant roles last year. A lot of them contributed a lot last year. The fact that the guy is sitting on his couch eating a sandwich, isn't familiar with our defensive player or our receiver, whatever, I don't think has a great deal to do with what he's going to end up doing.

Snip

I think this unit's good. I think this unit plays together better. I think that this unit has more explosion to it. I think they've got less experience.

Leach believes that offensive line is the hardest position to hide a player and that this group plays well together. Leach also mentions two freshmen offensive linemen by name:

And then we've got some young guys there that, two guys that have really been working hard at camp was Lonnie Edwards and Mickey Okafor. And I'm a little curious, I feel good about the talent base and then my question as a coach, how can we most effectively teach them so that they gain their experience as quickly as possible and contribute as high a level as they can.

I think it's interesting that Leach has already targeted Okafor as a talent bigger than his high school ranking and I don't think there's any question that Edwards should see some playing time this next year.