We were asked to write two posts, about a bold move by the athletic program and really could have been any number of things. Yesterday, I wrote about the bold hire of Billy Clyde Gillispie and today I thought I'd write about three bold moves that the football coaching staff could make this year. I've got my three, but I'd love to hear about your three bold moves the football team could make this year.
**ASIDE** Before I started writing this, I thought that these bold moves could be made with the prospect of making this team better this year, but after writing these items, in retrospect, they seem to be bold moves that are made with not the 2011 season in mind, but the 2012 season at the forefront. That wasn't my intent when I started, but I do believe that the Big 12 is loaded this year at the top with teams like Oklahoma, Oklahoma St. and Texas A&M being incredibly talented at the skill positions and in a position to do some real damage this year, so although I think that these moves could be made to make the team better this year, there's a part of me that thinks that if Texas Tech makes these moves now, the 2012 season could be special. I'm not giving up on 2011. I believe in Herm Edwards' mantra, "You play to win the game," but with a second-year quarterback at the helm (assuming that Seth Doege takes hold of the position) and a defense that will almost return everyone, I think the coaching staff knows that the 2012 season is an excellent window of opportunity. **END ASIDE**
Let's get to it.
Start Ronnie Daniels at Running Back
This is probably the boldest move that Tuberville and Neal Brown could make. RB Eric Stephens is receiving pre-season accolades and I think he's a very good running back. Stephens has paid his dues running behind Baron Batch for two years and other than the fumbling problems that Stephens exhibited last year, I think he's a really good running back. With that being said, I think I underestimated the type of player that Daniels is. His high school career was off the charts in New Mexico, the best that's ever played in his hometown state and when he arrived on campus early for the spring game, I thought that he'd make a positive impression, but I wasn't about to make any bold predictions about a high school running back. Well, after seeing him play in the spring game I'm convinced that he's special and if given enough time, he could be a type of running back that Texas Tech hasn't seen in quite some time. With Daniels' size and speed and with the prospect that he could easily add 10 pounds to his frame gives Texas Tech a 6-1/205 pound running back that just doesn't come around all that often. If given enough time and carries, I think that Daniels could prove to be an invaluable asset to this team and would even think that his running ability could open the passing game up so much more than it did last year.
More after the jump.
Start Leon Mackey at Defensive End
I'm always a bit nervous about declaring that a JUCO player should start immediately, but in this case I think that Mackey has the pedigree to do it. Part of me thinks that I should have learned my lesson with Scott Smith last year. A defensive end JUCO that played incredibly well until he was suspended for the later two-thirds of the season, but if I think that 2012 is the season that Texas Tech can truly make an impact, Smith is a guy that although I think will play significantly this year (assuming his suspension is lifted after the first four games this year) should not start unless Mackey proves to be ineffective. I don't think that will be the case, but my rational is that Smith will be a senior in 2011 and if he starts and sees starting defensive end time then the other defensive ends (Jackson Richards, Dartwan Bush and Aundrey Barr) won't see the time that they need in order to mature to be excellent rotation players in 2012. Mackey's size and strength is not something that's currently on the roster and I think he's hungry to prove that he's an NFL caliber talent. If Mackey starts and Smith receives time as a third-down rusher and Richards, Bush and Barr also receive significant time, the defensive line could be incredibly good for 2012.
Play Beau Carpenter and Terry McDaniel As Much As Possible
The offensive line returns almost everyone in 2011, except for the rarely used Chris Olson, who mainly played a blocking tight end last year. Looking forward, LG Lonnie Edwards, C Justin Keown and RT Mickey Okafor will all graduate after 2011, meaning that there will be some important pieces that will not be around for 2012. With that being said, I think it's imperative for there to really be only one question mark, probably the center spot, rounding into 2012. McDaniel and LaAdrian Waddle are slated as co-starters at left tackle and I think that OL coach Moore wants Waddle to secure that spot in the fall, which means that I think that McDaniel should be the roving offensive lineman in 2011. I may be completely making this up, but I seem to recall that Moore wants McDaniel to be the guy that can play multiple positions along the line. I'd have no problem working McDaniel in at right tackle, left tackle and either of the guard positions. Carpenter will be a redshirt freshman, impressing last spring and the coaching staff talking up about how they loved his work ethic. An appendectomy during the season led to Carpenter being redshirted the entire year, which doesn't bother me, but what I do think is that the coaching staff thinks that Carpenter will be a guy that will also be able to play along the line at just about every position. To me, he exhibited enough mobility and strength to play either the guard or tackle spots and like McDaniel, I want him to see as many plays as possible this year. As mentioned above, the center position will be the one position that will be a question mark this fall and the biggest question for the staff will be to determine whether or not Tony Morales should be redshirted or see time backing up Keown. This goes against my typical stance that every player should redshirt, but in this particular case I think that T. Morales should play, even if it's mop-up time as he needs to see what it's like to play in Big 12 competition and have an idea that the job is his next year.
I've given my three bold moves, although admittedly they're geared towards 2012. What about you? What bold moves do you make this year? Feel free to disregard my notion that 2012 is the window of opportunity. I should also add that freshman TE Jace Amaro was close to making this list and should start at tight end, but given his overall talent, for me, I don't think that there's any question that right now, he's superior to anything that's on the Texas Tech roster.