Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big 12 [Print without images]

Thursday, May 14, 2009
Texas Tech spring wrap

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Texas Tech Red Raiders
2008 overall record: 11-2

2008 conference record: 7-1

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 7, kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

RB Baron Batch, WR Detron Lewis, T Brandon Carter, LB Brian Duncan, DT Colby Whitlock

Key losses

QB Graham Harrell, RB Shannon Woods, WR Michael Crabtree, T Rylan Reed, G Louis Vasquez, DE Brandon Williams, S Daniel Charbonnet, S Darcel McBath

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Baron Batch* (758 yards)
Passing: Graham Harrell (5,111 yards)
Receiving: Michael Crabtree (1,165 yards)
Tackles: Brian Duncan* (94)
Sacks: Brandon Williams (15 1/2)
Interceptions: Darcel McBath (7)

Spr
ing answers

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 North Dakota
Sept. 12 Rice
Sept. 19 at Texas
Sept. 26 at Houston
Oct. 3 New Mexico
Oct. 10 Kansas State
Oct. 17 at Nebraska
Oct. 24 Texas A&M
Oct. 31 Kansas
Nov. 14 at Oklahoma State
Nov. 21 Oklahoma
Nov. 28 Baylor (at Arlington)

1. Taylor Potts: Tech's replacement at quarterback is assuming the starting position with more experience as a first-season starter than most of Tech's recent quarterbacks. He played in 15 games and passed for 669 yards and five touchdowns earlier in his career. Potts is bigger and stronger than most and also has shown a live arm and a quick knack for reading defenses. He had a strong outing in the spring game, completing 20 of 27 passes for 211 yards, and he showed steady development throughout the spring. And for his part, Tech coach Mike Leach has been very consistent in praising Potts throughout the spring.

2. Help in the trenches: After taking over the starting job for the final eight games last season, defensive tackle Richard Jones had a strong spring both in production and leadership. He's bigger than in the past -- about 15 pounds -- and much stronger. He'll combine with Colby Whitlock to provide some interior depth.

3. Alex Torres: It's hard to duplicate Michael Crabtree's big-play ability at flanker. But Torres, a transfer from the Air Force Prep School, was a revelation as he showed a knack for making tough catches in traffic as well as good speed. He adds depth to an underrated position where the Red Raiders already return Detron Lewis, Edward Britton and Lyle Leong, who combined for 129 catches and 12 touchdown grabs last season.

Fall questions

1. Finding a pass rush: End McKinner Dixon was suspended early in spring practice for academic reasons. Leach says it's unlikely he will return. Coupled with the loss of leading sacker Brandon Williams to the NFL, the Red Raiders are looking to replace players who accounted for 22 of their 34 team sacks last season. Seniors Sandy Riley, Brandon Sesay, Brandon Sharpe and Daniel Howard got most of the work outside after Dixon left. The heat is on them to provide defensive pressure to protect Tech's green safeties.

2. Inexperienced safeties: Darcel McBath and Daniel Charbonnet were the best pair of safeties in the conference last season, combining for 12 interceptions and three touchdown returns as they provided consistent play throughout the season. Not only are they gone, but so are their backups from last season. Defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill will be trying to find replacements among a group that includes only junior Franklin Mitchem and redshirt freshman Cody Davis as scholarship players.

3. Kicking woes: The midseason switch to walk-on wonder Matt Williams was done after scholarship kicker Donnie Carona struggled earlier in the season. Tech coaches hoped that Carona would rediscover his confidence over the offseason, but he shanked two of three PAT attempts in the spring game. The job likely will be open again in August.