Tomorrow I'm going to ask you which non-starter from last year's team makes the biggest impact this year. Go ahead and start formulating your opinions, but as I wrote the post to publish tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. I couldn't help but think about Jake Ratliff and whether or not you think he should start next year. Jordan Strebeck of RedRaiderSports.com make a nice argument as to why Ratliff isn't a bad option at defensive end:
Some people point to his lack of "big plays," such as sacks, etc., but I would argue that that could have as much to do with scheme as it does talent or ability. As a strongside DE, you're often asked to things that aren't glamorous, such as holding containment, occupying blockers, and other things that the average onlooker has no idea about.
Strebeck acknowledges that Ratliff isn't necessarily the best option (of course he don't really say that he will or won't do a bad job either ). So I'm trying to be a little self-reflective and I know that I've been a little hard on Ratliff, in fact, I've even hinted that I'd really like to see Sesay replace Ratliff by the 3rd or 4th game.
I'd really like to know how most of you feel about this as I've been churning a thought in my head for quite some time, which is if this is the year, would you just turn everyone loose? In other words, if I'm Leach and McNeill and we all know that this is possibly the year that Texas Tech can make a leap, do you go with the safe option or do you go with the option that has the potential to put you over the top?
I guess what I'm trying to ask you is that if this is the season that there's some real opportunity, do you as a coach play it safe?
I don't think there's any doubt that Sesay is the better athlete and probably a better player than Ratliff. He has the potential to have a much greater impact on the field that Ratliff. Ratliff has been consistent, but he hasn't been spectacular and there's a real opportunity for Texas Tech to be great in 2008 and if Sesay is as good as advertised, then he potentially make a huge impact.
Is this the same argument that we heard from Setencich, about taking experience over talent (I've looked for a quote similar to that, but I think that with Setencich settling on veterans like Tillman and P. Williams last year at the start of the season is proof enough)? I can't tell you how much it infuriated me when it seemed to me that there was superior talent on the bench, but that talent wasn't playing because coaches were playing it safe.
As stated above, if Sesay is as good as we all think he is then he should play. And to ask this another way, which it seems that if Ratliff is the more solid option, why wouldn't you be throwing out Sesay, so long as he's ready, as soon as possible. Get that guy ready. Let him play and let him play as much as possible in the first 4 games. If at the end of that time, you don't feel like he's ready, then you know you've got a reliable back-up.
If I had to guess, I think McNeill plays the most talented player, position, experience or rank be damned.
For me, this season is about going for it. Granted, there's a fine line between being ridiculous and being smart, but this is why you signed him. Let him play.
Besides, if I am going to fail as a coach or a person, I'm going to fail as spectacularly as possible.