Double-T Nation News:
Lots of news to get to this morning, and much thanks to everyone who posted links on the FanShot sidebar yesterday.
I wanted this to get top-billing this morning, but the best preview of the Texas Tech defense that I've read all year can be found at Barking Carnival . Great detail. I'm not even going to blockquote anything, I just want you to go over there and read the whole thing.
Texas Tech Football:
First up, Rivals.com's preview of Texas Tech is very thorough and goes into great detail (hat-tip to TracySaulRulz). There's only a couple of items that I slightly disagree with, but they're really just a matter of opinion.
BIGGEST PROBLEM: Tech's starting receivers are good, but there is a depth concern. Tech is counting on redshirt freshmen at inside receiver, and it's unknown who will back up Crabtree. As long as the starters stay healthy, the Red Raiders are fine. But injuries could create problems.
Personally, I think the receiver depth is fine. Granted, if you lose Crabtree you lose a lot, but I after the class from 2 years ago, I don't think there's a lack of talent at the receiver position. The group that I worry about is the offensive line. If Reed isn't able to go and you have to move Vasquez to tackle because Okafor just isn't ready then worry about the overall strength of the line. I know that Hamby would step in for Vasquez, but there's a lot of youth behind the top 6 guys and I think they still need a year. If Reed can't play and someone else goes down, I think this line struggles a bit.
I thought it somewhat strange that this was Texas Tech's strongest area:
STRONGEST AREA: It's not enough that everybody is back on the line, but the arrival of Sesay, Miami transfer Chris Perry and junior college transfer McKinner Dixon bolsters an already impressive group. The Red Raiders expect to be six deep at end.
I think the defensive line will be improved, but the bottom line is that this group has got to figure out a way to stop the run and last year this group allowed a ton of yards on the ground. I think I would have gone with the linebacking corp, but that's just me.
Excellent interview from ESPN's Big 12 Blogger Tim Griffin of Ruffin McNeill. Griffin confirms with McNeill that Brandon Sesay is taking a class and he'll be ready to go. That's great news. There were a couple of items that I really liked hearing.
Texas Tech is getting some unprecedented national attention this summer coming into the season. Most prognosticators believe the team's biggest question mark will be the defense. Do you like the feeling of being in the crosshairs as your team tries to capture its first Big 12 title?
RM: I've heard that pretty often (laughing) and we've told the kids about. But there are a couple of things to consider. One is that you hope after you've been here for awhile that there should be some expectations put on us. Secondly, we're not close to being what we could be with our program. We have high expectations we place on ourselves and it works within our program. The crosshairs are not intimidating. I appreciate them. It tells us we have a chance to do some special things if we believe and can focus on the task at hand.
I understand that there's no reason why he would say anything different, but I like the fact that he knows this program is not where it could be and I love this quote . . . "The crosshairs are not intimidating." That gets my football pants going crazy.
I also liked this:
Tell us about the growth of your defensive line, which could potentially be your deepest group you've had since you've been at Tech.
RM: All of our development always starts from the inside [at defensive tackle] and we have a good group there with Colby Whitlock, Rajon Henley, Richard Jones and Chris Perry, who's a transfer from Miami. At the ends, we've got Jake Ratliff back, Brandon Williams. Daniel Howard did a good job. McKinner Dixon came back to us and had a good spring. The depth will help us. I'm very pleased with their progress. It's a young group, but they've really developed. I'm looking forward to seeing how far they've come.
McNeill doesn't even mention David Neill, who if he's grown as much as we've all heard, has a chance to contribute this year and I wonder how ready Joey Fowler is, although I realize that he's just a freshman.
Most schools also use the media kickoff events as a chance to promote players they're touting for All-American type awards. I talked to Mike Leach Thursday. He's got two players who are getting some Heisman mention in media circles, but the Texas Tech coach isn't bringing Harrell or WR Michael Crabtree to the Big 12 event next week. Instead, Tech is bringing junior DB Jamar Wall, senior safety Daniel Charbonnet and 5-foot-8 receiver Eric "the Elf" Morris.
Leach said he feels like Harrell and Crabtree will get their share of media attention and believes this was an ideal forum to spotlight some "great role players" and guys who are also critical to the team's success in 2008. Does that potentially hurt Harrell or Crabtree's Heisman chances?
A couple of other links from ESPN's Tim Griffin, Burning questions for the South Division and Midwestern sensibilities: predictions for the South.