Five Things is a handful (i.e., five) of thoughts about a single topic. Hopefully, discussion ensues.
Players You May Have Forgotten, But Shouldn't
There's 105 players on the fall roster, you're bound to forget a few, but these are five players that that I think are important, in some way or another, to this team's success. I'd love to hear you add to this list or add your own five.
1: LB Blake Collier
You probably won't remember, but Blake Collier played in four games in 2008 totalling all of 5 tackles for the year. Collier missed almost all of last year due to injuries and I think he was able to redshirt last year, which may turn out to be a good thing. Collier was originally recruited as a linebacker out of high school, but his tremendous speed and athleticism had coaches thinking that he would be better suited for safety. Of course, with the evolution of the spread offense, this seems completely opposite of what you would want to do with fast and athletic players, Collier is no exception. At some point, Collier was moved back to linebacker, a move that makes sense and now he's firmly behind Marlon Williams at the weakside linebacker spot. Personally, I could see Collier being a fairly useful and versatile player. He has the speed to play safety, albeit a slow safety, and enough size to play linebacker, albeit a bit undersized. The point is that Collier is going to find a place on the field this year. Perhaps in a Jordy Rowland type of role where he could cover a slot receiver or a running back coming out of the backfield.
2: QB Seth Doege
I've heard just about everything about Doege, that he was going to push Taylor Potts for the first-team offense and that Doege had "it". Then the Red-Black game happened and Doege looked pretty bad, especially in comparison with Potts and second-stringer, Steven Sheffield. I was on the field after the scrimmage and you could tell that his performance bothered him to no end, but there are a couple of things to take away from a scrimmage. First, despite the fact that there was a crowd and different players in different colored jerseys, the Red-Black game should have no more or no less impact than any of the other scrimmages. We heard almost all spring that Doege was pushing Potts, and we heard very little about Sheffield. I'm pretty sure that if Doege can shake off two significant knee injuries, then one scrimmage shouldn't be too tough. Despite Sheffield's rise, I'm hoping like hell that Doege makes it tough on Potts and Sheffield the rest of the way. Complacency is never a good thing, and to be quite honest, I think Doege is too talented to be too far back on the bench. With Jacob Karam getting some press on Saturday, it's easy to forget about the guys that you were pretty excited about three or four months ago, but Doege is one of those guys for me.
3: DT Britton Barbee
Just like the other guys, Barbee is a guy that I tend to forget, and perhaps there's good reason why he's fallen off the radar a bit. Thus far, Barbee hasn't really made any sort of impact on the field and with all of the issues going on in the defensive line, you would think that Barbee is going to at the very least get a look at cracking the defensive line rotation. I know that we're all excited about the additions of guys like Myles Wade and Pearlie Graves, but I think we'd be a bit remiss if we didn't at least mention Barbee. Barbee hasn't made it onto the field, but he's making progress and the coaches are taking note. Barbee's first year was in 2006, redshirted in 2007, and was on the scout team in 2008. That scout team part is significant as Barbee was awarded the Defensive Scout of the Year in 2008 (Cornelius Douglas was the Offensive Scout of the Year). If I remember correctly, Barbee was a svelte 280 early in his career, and has beefed up to 296 over the course of this three years at Texas Tech (I even said during the Red-Black game that he looked like he had a high motor and he added weight). If Barbee isn't a big player in 2009, I can almost guarantee that he'll be a significant player in 2010. One other thing to note about Barbee is the fact that he's a pre-medicine major, which obviously leads me to believe that he's got a good head on his shoulder and that's got to be an advantage for Barbee's development.
4: RG Mickey Okafor
We've talked quite a bit about most of the other four starting offensive linemen, but there's been very little talk about the right guard spot, although this spot is being handed, at least right now, to a redshirt sophomore. Technically, this is the only position that Olson isn't a backup, although I have no doubt that he could play here if there are issues here. In any event, it appears that as of right now, offensive line coach Matt Moore is going with either Okafor or Gallington. I would imagine that true freshman LaAdrian Waddle might be the guy that Moore will eventually move to right guard, which means that you've got some real young guys at this spot. But back to Okafor, who is somewhat of a forgotten man along the line, although I think that the success of the Red Raider rushing offense is going to be awfully dependent on Okafor creating space for guys like RB's Baron Batch, Aaron Crawford and Harrison Jeffers.
5: S Julius Howard and NT Victor Hunter
Couldn't pick just five players, so this is a cop-out of sorts as I pick two players who are recently converted to new positions. Howard is one of those players who is blessed with seemingly incredible athletic ability, but just hasn't been able to put it all together to get on the field. With the crowd at linebacker, Howard was moved to safety during the spring in order to compete for playing time. Howard dropped his weight to 208 and I get the feeling that DB coach Carlos Mainord likes to have some experience in his nickel and dime packages, which makes sense. If Howard has even been remotely a good student of the game, he should have some understanding as to where he needs to be. Hunter on the other hand is a guy that was on the edge of being a linebacker and a lineman. Hunter checked in at 250 last year and mainly saw time at the middle linebacker spot in short yardage and goal line situations. The switch was made during the spring and Hunter has blossomed to 275. I get the feeling that Hunter will see similar time that he did in 2008 in that I do think he can be an effective player along the defensive line, and right now, I think he's right behind Colby Whitlock at the nose tackle position. I always like Hunter as a player, and I get the feeling that he's a good guy to have on your side.