We're going to try and do this weekly, and because we have a number of authors, sometimes we'll have everyone participate and others we won't. Feel free to answer in the comments and join along.
1. There's been a lot of discussion about Pat Knight and how he's called out his current players. Talk about some of the things that encourages you about Pat Knight, if any, and anything that discourages about him, again, if any.
2. Dr. Saturday's Matt Hinton recently wrote that the Texas Tech football program may have only been destined to have their one shining moment in 2008 and that Texas Tech is more or less reserved to be behind the rut of the Big 12's traditional powers. Agree or disagree?
3. I know not everyone follows recruiting as closely as others, but what's your general tone thus far in the recruiting process and more importantly, how in the hell has Leach been able to recruit some of the best that Texas Tech has seen without signing that damned extension?
4. Put on your prediction caps, what one guy on offense and one guy on defense do you expect to have a "break-out" year next year, and you cannot include Taylor Potts?
1. I think that he clearly recognizes the talent gap between Texas Tech and the rest of the Big XII. We aren't very competitive most nights and seem to have trouble with the most basic elements of the game. Especially giving the other guy a free pass with all the turnovers. On the flip side of that recognition is the fact that he lets the world know the players he has are not good. I can't imagine what the mood in the locker room is like when Knight isn't there. I can only imagine some of the conversations the players have. "Are you one of the guys he'd trade? Am I? Do we all just suck as bad as he tells everyone?"
2. I am not sure how to answer this one. My heart wants to believe we've truly turned the corner. But my brain is telling me to expect at least a small come down in 2009. You don't replace the best QB in school history and one of the top WRs in all of the sport's history and not take a hit. But will that step back in 2009 be viewed as "typical Tech" or will it be viewed as simply gearing up for another big run in 2010? I really like this team's chances in 2010 and think that if we can get 9-10 wins next year, that we'll have started to solidify our place with UT and OU. What is very encouraging is the quality of recruit we've managed to pull this year - even with the Leach extension distraction. I expect Tech to have 4th place finish in the south next fall, but that is the quiet before the storm of 2010. Add in the development of our young players, the continued recruitment of 4-star players (I firmly believe you don't need a 5-star ever...if you have enough 4-stars, you'll be just fine. I'd take 'em, but I wouldn't waste time chasing 'em.), and we can actually become one of the every year big boys. It's not out of the question.
3. I have no idea what Leach is telling these kids, but it must be something along the lines of, "Hey, I'm here for the long haul. This extension is just that. An extension." I'm not a big recruitment follower as it pertains to individual athletes, I look at it more from overall depth and quality of qualifiers. To that end, I'm quite impressed with what we have hauled in on the defensive side. It's been EVERYONE'S gripe with Tech and if Ruffin can coach them well and let them play aggressive, things look very bright.
4. I am anxious to see how Aaron Crawford compliments Baron Batch. I have had a thing for Crawford for some reason and really want to see him be a powerful addition to the offense. I look for him to re-establish himself in the rotation in 2009 and contribute in short yardage.
On defense, hmmmm. I'm hoping everyone just plays their assignment. Maybe Bront Bird? He showed a few moments of nice play this year, but that's really not saying much with this defense. With the defense, I'm clearly in the "show me" mode. Many people feel they improved last year, but I have maintained that improving very super suck to pretty bad is not the improvement I'm looking for. If someone can step up and just make a traditional form tackle from time to time, I'll be impressed. And the next time we blitz a corner and get a sack will be the first time in three years. Can you tell I'm not on board with what Ruffin is doing?
1. What encourages me about Pat Knight is his willingness to adapt. RMK was stubborn about his defense and wasn't able to recruit big guys. I saw in one interview shortly after he retired the commentator asked him what he might have done different, and his answer was the he probably should have played a little zone D and gone after some big guys - WHA?! I think Junior knows what he needs and will go after it. At the same time, it's frustrating that he can't get the boys to play some better D and better fundamentals this season. Also, it's been said that Junior did most of the recruiting anyway, but I think with PK calling the shots now, we might actually get some recruiting momentum. I think RMK turned off some of the young guys and/or parents.
2. Looking at the recruiting this year (disclaimer: until we get all of the LOI's, anything's possible), I don't think this year was the only chance. Some other fans say that we "had the best team ever" and have nothing to show for it, but I've heard that before. I say, "yeah the best year - so far." I'm looking for 9 wins plus a bowl win next season, then another B12 championship run in 2010 with TP in his senior year. As long as Leach is the captain of this ship and the talent level improves the way it has the last 8 years, I see Texas Tech getting that Big 12 trophy and a BCS bowl sooner rather than later. As for the second part, yes, Texas Tech will be at a disadvantage compared to the traditional powers because of funding and history. The fact that we are able to compete with such a disadvantage is a testament to Captain Leach's system making great players out of good/average recruits.
3. Oops, I kind of rambled into this one on my last answer. But to reiterate - it's unbelievable. If we didn't have such playmakers like Jeffers waiting in the wing, and more on the way this year, I would be worried about the next 4 years, but I'm not. I think these kids and parents realize that Leach runs a solid program at Texas Tech, the kids graduate, and they'll be winning more than losing. Leach is telling these kids he's gonna stick around - he has to be. The more important thing is that they trust him.
4. Harrison Jeffers will break out, and the scary thing is that we have Crawford and Batch to complement him. I hope and pray that Leach uses them to the fullest potential. As for defense - you got me there. We need somobody to step up in the secondary. Maybe Bullitt or Cobb will be good enough to play next year? They would add some height to our secondary, which would help, but they'll be green. Like I said, you got me. Rather than someone breaking out next year, I think the returning starters will be solid as a group, with everyone else getting better with experience.
1. The thing that encourages me the most is that he's young and enthusiastic. I thought whenever RMK left that this program needed a shot in the arm in terms of enthusaism, and unfortunately, Pat Knight was left with a half-full cuppard. Some of it's his fault, and some of it's not. Of course, the thing that I like most about PK is the same thing that I dislike, his inexperience in handling a team can be downright hurtful and I'm sure that his players cannot be appreciative of some of his comments. I'm willing to give him a little slack as I think he's got potential to recruit and coach, he just needs to be careful what he says.
2. Much like the rest of the guys, I'm a little on the fence about this one and I don't know if I should be. I'm really worried about replacing almost the entire secondary next year, especially the safeties and the year after that I'm even more worried about who is going to step in at defensive end. I know, those things tend to work themselves out, but it's the continued maturation of the defense that bothers me. With the offense, I feel like that Captain Leach has this ship at a point where it's not much of a concern for me, but the defense continues to be a work in progress and replacing units (i.e. safeties and defensive ends) in an entire class without much quality depth is worrisome. Create that depth and I won't be so worried.
3. My recruiting-pants are going crazy with the guys that Leach has seemed to haul into Lubbock. I'm not much of a Texas Tech recruiting historian, but it seems like this may be as talented a group that Texas Tech has ever seen. As far as Leach, I can't imagine what he's saying to recruits, other than he intends to be in Lubbock for the duration. Not to mention, he can point to something that he's never had before, which is legitimate program success over a sustained period of time, not to mention taking his team to a bowl game every year (now if we can just win those S.O.B.'s).
4. I'm going to go a long with djollie111 and agree that Harrison Jeffers may be a really special player for Texas Tech by the time it's all said and done. It's all rumors, but Jeffers is one of those guys who has really impressed at Thursday night scrimages and the last two guys that have done that are Baron Batch and Michael Crabtree. Click. On defense, I'll take safety and Abilene Cooper's Will Ford to be the newcomer that does a little something on defense. There's plenty of opportunity for Bullitt, Cobb, or Y. Williams to make an impact their freshman season as all four of these guys may have more potential than some of the players currently on the squad. In any event, I'll still go with Ford, call it a gut feeling more than anything else.