Three things we learned in the spring
1. Bryce Petty's reign as the Big 12’s best quarterback could be in jeopardy. Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb picked up this spring right where he left off after earning MVP honors at the National University Holiday Bowl. The sophomore passed for 354 yards and four touchdowns during the Red Raiders’ spring game and looks ready to take his game to another level in his second season in Lubbock.
2. The Red Raiders' defense needs help. Replacing Kerry Hyder along the defensive line won’t be easy as Texas Tech needs junior college signees like Rika Levi to provide depth and competition up front while the secondary is young and inexperienced. The return of defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt means Texas Tech will have stability and consistency in its defensive coaching staff the first time in years, which should help, but Texas Tech’s defense will need to grow up fast if Red Raiders hope to insert themselves into the Big 12 title race.
3. Is there anything Kenny Williams cannot do? After leading the team in rushing and starring on special teams last season, the senior switched from running back to linebacker and found himself atop the depth chart at the end of spring. Second-year coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t indicate that Williams time on offense is over so Texas Tech could have one of the nation’s top three-way playmakers at its disposal this fall.
Three questions for the fall
1. What happens if Webb goes down? Disaster. It’s telling that Texas Tech released a post-spring depth chart with Webb as a lone quarterback on the two-deep. If the sophomore is forced to miss time the Red Raiders’ hope of a dream season will take a major hit.
2. Who fills the playmaking void left by Jace Amaro and Eric Ward? Receiver Jakeem Grant is the first in line to fill the playmaking void left by the duo that combined for 2,299 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in 2013. But Grant was a key piece in the offense last season, so someone else needs to show they’re ready to produce in Kingsbury’s offense. Keep an eye on D.J. Polite-Bray, Devin Lauderdale and Reginald Davis, a trio of sophomore receivers who could be poised to explode in Texas Tech’s passing attack.
3. Which defensive newcomers will make an immediate impact? ESPN 300 cornerback Nigel Bethel II and linebacker Dakota Allen are a pair of high school signees with the talent to help immediately while junior college defensive line signees Levi, Keland McElrath and Brandon Thorpe will get plenty of opportunities. The answer to this question will have the biggest impact on Texas Tech’s ultimate destiny this fall, particularly if Webb remains healthy, because it will be critical for defensive newcomers to be ready to contribute right away.
One way-too-early prediction
The Red Raiders will have a major impact on the Big 12 championship race. Lack of overall depth will keep Texas Tech from putting itself in the title hunt, but the Red Raiders will record an upset in 2014 that alters the title race and changes the destination of the 2014 Big 12 championship rings during the home stretch of the conference schedule in November.