SB Nation 2009 Big 12 Preview: In partnership with CBS Sports, the SB Nation Big 12 blogs are previewing each of their respective teams in the Big 12. This is Double-T Nation's entry and for all of those who are getting this way through the Texas Tech page on CBS Sports, we welcome you and hope you enjoy the content. Thanks to the Ralphie Report for compiling all of the previews and make sure and visit the Ralphie Report for a more extensive Big 12 conference breakdown.
QB Taylor Potts
RB Baron Batch
OL Brandon Carter
OL Marlon Winn
WR Detron Lewis
WR Edward Britton
WR Tramain Swindall
NT Colby Whitlock
DE Rajon Henley
LB Brian Duncan
LB Marlon Williams
CB Jamar Wall
S Cody Davis
OFFENSE: As is the case with each Texas Tech team, there is no question that the offense is led by its quarterback, and after three years of Graham Harrell, the Red Raiders usher in a new signal caller in junior Taylor Potts. It's easy of course to think that Potts will have a difficult time replacing Harrell's production, but Texas Tech has finished with the top passing offense in the Big 12 from 2008 through 2004. Something tells me that head coach Mike Leach understands a thing or two about running an offense. At receiver, the Red Raiders will lean heavily on inside receiver Detron Lewis to lead the way and although there are usually at least four receivers who receive a significant amount of passes, right now this may be a receiver by committee situation. Of course, the big question is who will replace Michael Crabtree at the flanker position and currently it's a three man race, with redshirt freshman Alexander Torres leading the group, followed closely by Lyle Leong and Jacoby Franks. Split end Edward Britton is the lone senior of the receiver corp and it would not surprise those who follow the program closely that inside receiver Tramain Swindall will contribute significantly in 2009. Most think that the offensive line lost three starters, but the truth of the matter is that center Shawn Byrnes started in 2007, lost his job to last year's starter, Stephen Hamby, but is expected to start in 2009. At left tackle, the starting job is between redshirt freshman Terry McDaniel, who showed that he is more than capable of protecting that left side, and all-purpose lineman, Chris Olson. At left guard the Red Raiders return an All-American candidate Brandon Carter and is moving from playing right guard last year. Sophomore Mickey Okafor will take over for Carter at right guard and incumbent Marlon Winn will get the nod at right tackle.
|1. @ Texas Longhorns :: 09.19.09
2. Oklahoma Sooners :: 11.21.09
3. @ Nebraska Cornhuskers :: 10.17.2009
4. @ Oklahoma St. Cowboys :: 11.14.09
5. Kansas Jayhawks :: 10.31.09
DEFENSE: Texas Tech lost quite a bit of production defensively and previous years, there would have been quite a bit of worrying about replacing both defensive ends and both safeties, but with the increase in talent at Texas Tech, the less of a worry it is replacing quality players. Both defensive ends have moved onward, Brandon Williams has moved to the NFL, and McKinner Dixon declared for the NFL supplemental draft this summer, but went undrafted. Replacing Williams and Dixon will be no small task, but former defensive tackle Rajon Henley has lost weight during the off season and will solidify one end position, while the other end position will be left to Daniel Howard, a JUCO transfer, who was close on a number of sacks last year, has a motor that just doesn't quit. Look for fellow seniors Brandon Sharpe and Sandy Riley to see plenty of time alongside Howard and Henley. Inside, nose tackle Colby Whitlock returns for his junior year and senior Richard Jones will start at defensive tackle. The second and third team could consist of some of the newcomers listed below, but should certainly include in the rotation Victor Hunter, Chris Perry, Britton Barbee and David Neill. All three linebackers return from 2008, including the highly underrated junior middle linebacker Brian Duncan, who could be an all-conference performer, this year. Backing up Duncan is Sam Fehoko, who many think will be could be an impact player right now. At the weakside linebacker spot is senior Marlon Williams, although look for Blake Collier to edge his way into the lineup as he has superior speed which is obviously useful in the wide-open Big 12. At the strongside linebacker spot is junior Bront Bird, who will be fighting off Tyrone Sonier. Left cornerback Jamar Wall returns for his senior season and opposite Wall there is a three man race with LaRon Moore, Brent Nickerson and Taylor Charbonnet all hoping to nab that right starting cornerback position. The Red Raiders lose both safeties from 2008, but redshirt freshman Cody Davis should surprise many in 2009 at free safety and Franklin Mitchem looks to be the starter at strong safety. Brett Dewhurst, Julius Howard and Jared Flannel round out the veterans amongst this safety group.
|STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES|
Strengths: Quarterback position
typically performs at a high level,
quality receiver depth despite loss
of Crabtree, all starting linebackers
return and depth at defensive tackle.
Weaknesses: Lack of defensive end
depth as three ends graduated or
left the program, must replace or
improve right cornerback and
no experience at safety.
SPECIAL TEAMS: For the first time in the Mike Leach era, he's hired a full-time special teams coach, Eric Russell, and the talk during the spring and fall practices is that there's a noticeable difference in the attitude of special teams this year. Quite possibly the feel-good story of 2008 returns in plackicker Matt Williams, who was plucked from the stands to kick a field goal to win free rent, will return as the guy to kick short-yardage field goals and extra points. Donnie Carona returns to take care of the long field goals and should see competition from Brad Hicks. Punter Jonathan LaCour is suspended for the first six games and freshman Brian Exlerben and Carona will compete for the punter position. Returning punts, there are at least five or six option, but leading the charge is cornerback Jamar Wall, receiver Detron Lewis, running back Eric Stephens, while Stephens, receiver Jacoby Franks, receiver Edward Britton and Wall could each return kickoffs.
KEY LOSSES: LG Louis Vaszuez, LT Rylan Reed, C Stephen Hamby, IR Eric Morris, FL Michael Crabtree, RB Shannon Woods, QB Graham Harrell, DE McKinner Dixon, DE Brandon Williams, S Daniel Charbonnet and S Darcel McBath.
NEWCOMERS: The defensive side of the ball presents the most opportunity for newcomers to make a difference for this team as I think it takes at least a year to acclimate to the Texas Tech offense. With that being said, sophomore defensive tackle Myles Wade has the physical gifts to make an impact immediately, as does fellow defensive tackle Pearlie Graves. The Red Raiders signed six defensive backs in 2008 and although they are all talented defensive backs Will Ford, Daniel Cobb and Terrance Bullitt could all see time at safety in 2009. Receiver Eric Ward, a freshman who landed in Lubbock in the spring semester and has a leg up on the competition, has the talent to break into the receiver rotation quickly. Although technically not newcomers in the truest sense of the word, the aforementioned left tackle Terry McDaniel has the potential to start and running back Harrison Jeffers will surprise many opponents in 2009 as he should be the combination running back with Baron Batch. Also watch out for former quarterbacks turned receivers in Austin Zouzalik and Cornelius Douglas. Both are explosive athletes, Zouzalik may be one of the fastest players on the team, and Douglas is could be utilized in a Wildcat-type of formation.