There’s a different feeling around the football program at Texas Tech going into this season and it all starts with head coach Joey McGuire. His energy is starting to rub off onto the team and everyone is excited to see what this program is capable of both this year and the years to come with the player’s that have committed to this team so far.
Last year ended on a high note with a victory in the Liberty Bowl that had many looking forward to this upcoming season. The guys showed some resilience, but at the same time there were still plenty of things that could’ve been improved upon that must be addressed this offseason if we want to string together multiple bowl appearances in a row for the first time since they went to six straight from 2008-2013.
I’ve identified three key things to improve upon that could have us not only appearing in a bowl game but possibly fighting for a chance at the Big 12 Title.
Bringing Smart Pressure on Defense-
After watching Tech’s defense last season and seeing them bring pressure on an inconsistent basis it seems only fair that we would see them bring the heat more often this year with the changes made on the defensive end.
Tech has tried to often in the past to just drop as many guys as possible and allow these talented college quarterbacks to have all the time in the world to wait for somebody to get open. This is why pass rushers are never really talked about throughout the season at Tech because there’s no one that makes an impact getting to the quarterback.
Blitzing the offense is obviously a solid strategy when trying to get them off balance and force sacks/turnovers, and Tim DeRuyter loves to bring all kinds of it. He’s also shown an ability to know just when to bring it and where to bring it from.
Tyree Wilson is a guy that has been talked about quite a bit this offseason after finishing the year with a two sack performance in the bowl game. He has been injured throughout the offseason and is going to need to be healthy in order to help Tech bring pressure on a consistent basis. The outside linebackers as well as the defensive linemen will all be relied upon to get to the quarterback and allow the talented secondary to make plays on the ball.
It may sound cliché to say that bringing pressure on defense is a key, but when you’ve had as bad of a pass rush as Tech has had it’s warranted.
Finding a Number One Target at Receiver-
This one might not seem like a big deal, but a lot of the great teams in college football seem to have a guy on the outside that stands out as the clear number one guy.
Looking at some of the better teams in football in recent history you’ll find guys like Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith and CeeDee Lamb stand out in their respective receiving groups that were filled with other talented guys.
This Texas Tech receiving group is filled with potential, and the likely guy to take on that role would be Myles Price. He has inside/outside versatility as is able to run the entire route tree, giving Tech a chance to put him wherever they please in order to get him the ball in order to force the defense to make him a priority. Doing that would leave the rest of the guys with favorable matchups that our talented quarterbacks could take advantage of.
This offense under Zach Kittley was at its best when Jereth Sterns was getting the ball 10+ times a game. With the amount of times that Tech will likely be passing there will be plenty of targets to go around. The key is having guys that they know they can rely on to pick up the yardage they need will be the difference between converting key downs and having to have the best punter in the nation in Austin McNamara come out and pin the opposing offense deep into their own territory.
Finding the Right Offensive Line Combination Early-
Last year it seemed like guys were shuffling around the line too often or not being replaced after strings of bad play. That can’t be the case this year with a new offense being implemented that will require the guys up front to protect the quarterback much more often and give him time to get the ball out to the playmakers.
By the time we get to week 1 I’m hoping that we can find the right combination up front that will stay that way the rest of the season barring injuries. Some of those guys will have a few years of starting experience under their belt already and have a lot of that pressure on them to make sure that everyone is communicating and knows their assignments.
The returnees/new additions have my hopes high for what this group could potentially be. I would love to see Caleb Rogers take that step forward and make himself known as a dominant presence at the Tackle position. He’s going to be the Left Tackle most likely and will have to do much better than our guys did their last year.