The cure for COVID-19 is on it’s way!
Well, I’m not a doctor so I can’t guarantee that opening statement. But for Texas Tech fans I feel confident in stating that the cure for our COVID-19 no sports blues is fast approaching. My hope is that the recent dry spell of live sports will help unify the Red Raider fan base going forward. Athlon Sports has offered that first step in providing excitement for the upcoming Texas Tech football season. Athlon named 10 Red Raiders to the 2020 All-Big 12 Team which ranks in the top 5 of the Big 12 schools. You can view the full list here but we are going to focus on the three that were named to the All-Big 12 First Team.
All-Big 12 First-Team Offense
It’s no surprise that redshirt junior Jack Anderson (no. 56) makes the list on the First-Team Offense as an offensive lineman. ESPN and USA Today both tabbed Anderson as a Freshman All-American in 2017 in which he started in all 13 games. Anderson continued his strong play at right guard in 2018. He was a stalwart on that offensive line that only allowed 2.08 sacks per game while Tech threw 535 pass attempts. The sacks allowed was good enough for fourth in the Big 12 while the pass attempts led the Big 12. Anderson’s 2019 Junior season was cut short after only 3 games due to a shoulder injury and he was redshirted. Athlon Sports and Red Raiders expect Jack Anderson to return to his stellar offensive line play to help lead the 2020 offensive line group to do great things in Coach Wells second year at the helm.
All-Big 12 First-Team Defense
Senior defensive lineman Eli Howard (no. 53) may be a surprise entry for the casual fan. Texas Tech is still dealing with being the punchline of jokes centered around lack of defensive play. We are the Matadors after all so we may have performed an “Olé” on multiple occasions for opposing offenses. Well, things they are a-changing. Tech has had more success in the NFL draft on the defensive side of the ball than on the offensive side including the most recent first round selection of Jordyn Brooks to Seattle. Eli Howard looks to continue that trend in 2020. As a redshirt freshman, Howard led the team with 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks while playing in all 13 games. Howard added 3.5 sacks in 2018 and recorded at least two tackles in every game save one. Howard started every game as a Junior in 2019. He led the team again with 5 sacks and was elected a team captain as a junior. Red Raider fans can look forward to watching Eli Howard help change the narrative that Texas Tech doesn’t play defense. I don’t hate to see it.
All-Big 12 First-Team Specialist
The third and final member of Athlon’s All-Big 12 First-Team is sophomore place kicker Austin McNamara (no. 31). McNamara earned Freshman All-American honors by several publications last season. While the kicking specialist isn’t the sexiest position on the football field (no offense to McNamara personally – he seems like a fine enough looking young man to me), McNamara’s leg has proven to be a legit weapon. When the offense sputtered, McNamara shined in changing the field position game in Tech’s favor. McNamara averaged 45.0 yards per punt which is a Texas Tech freshman record and 4th best overall regardless of classification. He also led all freshmen nationally in punting average. In the Big 12 opener versus Oklahoma, McNamara booted his longest punt of the year at 66 yards. I’ll agree that you would prefer not to have to use your punter, but when the time comes that one is needed, it certainly is nice to know that Tech has arguably the best punter in the nation. It would come as no surprise to me if he earns All-American honors nationally in addition to All-big 12 honors.
The beginning of 2020 can go take a long walk on a short pier. There is no doubt about that. I’m pretty sure “I can’t even” with 2020 anymore. However, in a time when hope and positivity are needed, Anderson, Howard, and McNamara are here to provide it.