Thursday, March 25, 2010
Weak & Strong: Texas Tech
By David Ubben
Here, we’ll take a look at one area where each team in the Big 12 can expect to succeed, and another that needs improvement. This edition happened to correspond with my visit to Lubbock, but there will be plenty more on the Red Raiders next week.
Weak: Offensive line
Texas Tech loses three starters from an offensive line that tied for 8th in the Big 12 in sacks given up (31), but was one sack away from the 11th spot. If the more mobile Steven Sheffield wins the starting quarterback spot permanently, that number could drop, but Texas Tech is replacing three starters for the second consecutive season.
LaAdrian Waddle, a 6-foot-6, 350-pounder, could compete for a starting spot.
Mickey Okafor and Deveric Gallington should compete to replace departed right guard Brandon Carter.
Junior Justin Keown could also start.
The unit could be at an advantage after their position coach, Matt Moore, was the only coach retained from Mike Leach's staff.
Whether Sheffield or Taylor Potts ends up being the starter, the bottom line is this: both are experienced, and both have shown they can thrive if given the opportunity. There's no reason to believe Texas Tech should have problems at quarterback. Both say they already feel comfortable in the new but similar system, and both put up Texas Tech-like numbers as juniors. They should both be much improved in 2010.
Potts engineered wins over Oklahoma and Michigan State, completing over 65 percent of his passes in the two games for four touchdowns and an average of 380 yards.
Sheffield was responsible for decisive wins over Nebraska and Kansas State, and threw for 490 yards and seven touchdowns against the Wildcats. The Red Raiders scored more points (31) against Nebraska, the nation's No. 1 scoring defense, than any other Huskers opponent.
Every coach in the Big 12 probably envies Tommy Tuberville, who has two senior quarterbacks with plenty of meaningful game experience.
Runner-up: Running backs, where starter Baron Batch has two experienced sophomores, Eric Stephens and Harrison Jeffers, backing him up.
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