We’re a week removed from the start of Spring football and it feels like a new era for the Red Raiders. This truly feels like the first season in quite some time that we as fans can set the bar high for this football team and feel like this team can reach that next level. Sprinkled throughout teams of the past was an occasional bowl visit that had us fans filled with excitement only to be met with disappointment.
One of the main factors contributing to that? Stability at the most important position in all of football. Tyler Shough is back and will look to stay healthy in order to lead this team to greatness, and backing him up is Behren Morton who showed a lot of promise when given the opportunity last season.
There are plenty of other key guys returning as well which will only serve as a benefit for this team as they look to make some noise in the first year of the expanded Big 12. But there are still plenty of questions and things that we would like to have more clarity on. Without further ado, here are a few questions that I would like to be answered.
Who steps up at the Edge position with Tyree Wilson going pro?
There really is no replacing Wilson, who was easily the best player on this team last year. His motor and ability to disrupt the offenses gameplan in both the run and pass game was something that will be hard to replace. We have a few guys that are eager to step up alongside Jesiah Pierre, who figures to be an important piece as he was usually the starter on the opposite side of Wilson.
A few names come to mind, including Steve Linton, Bryce Ramirez, Joseph Adedire, L.B. Moore and Charles Esters III. Linton just transferred in from Syracuse and has been used as a pass-rusher for the most part throughout his career. He has a smaller frame than most at the position, but is an athletic freak that uses speed and agility to disrupt the offense. Given his size, I don’t think he will be as helpful in the run game but he has shown a motor that will allow him to make plenty of plays.
Esters III and Adedire are guys with little experience who I feel have the opportunity to take huge steps and be key rotational guys. L.B. Moore has been on the team for a few years and figures to be a guy on the outside as well. Bryce Ramirez will be a nice story if he can return to form after the gruesome injury suffered last season.
The depth at this position will be key in trying to find stability at the position, and getting the younger guys experience on a defense that figures to be strong in the interior will be good for the long-term as well.
Who is going to slot in at Inside Linebacker with Krishon Merriweather gone?
With the loss of both Krishon Merriweather and Kosi Eldridge, the Red Raiders will need to fill-in the two starter roles at the inside linebacker position. Guys like Jacob Rodriguez, Tyrique Matthews and Bryce Robinson will be relied upon to be the leaders at the position as all of them have seen time at the position.
My favorite sleeper at the position is Ty Kana, who is in his Redshirt Freshman season and has the opportunity to become another solid Texas Tech linebacker.
I think that the main guy will be Rodriguez with Matthews being on the field in the base formation. Rodriguez was the main rotational piece in the group last season and would fill-in nicely as the consistent starter.
Who will be the focal points in the passing game?
After looking at the depth that we have at receiver as well as tight end, I’m curious to see how often the starting guys are rotated in and out. Each separate receiving (X, Y, Z, S,) has at least two guys that are capable of producing and that’s exciting to see in this offense.
I have a strong feeling that Baylor Cupp and Myles Price will be the guys racking up the receptions. Price will be the main slot guy along with Nehemiah Martinez and both of those guys are dangerous with the ball in their hands and will be key guys when we need to move the sticks. I think Jerand Bradley has a chance to lead the conference in touchdowns and will be somebody we target on the outside to use that 6’5” frame.
Cupp and Mason Tharp are two huge tight ends, but Cupp is more dynamic and has more upside. I like Tharp establishing himself between the hashes and can see him being someone that will open up things for other players with just how tall he is.