Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Weak and Strong: Texas Tech Red Raiders
By David Ubben
Turnover is an annual tradition in college football, but with that, teams' strengths and weaknesses constantly shift, too. Today, we'll begin a look at the biggest strengths and weaknesses for each Big 12 team.
Strongest position: Pass-catchers
I had to expand the position of strength to include tight ends, because to exclude Jace Amaro would be criminal. He and Eric Ward will be a strong 1-2 punch in the passing game next season, but there are a ton of options that give this unit lots of depth, too. Ward caught 82 passes for 1,053 yards and 12 touchdowns and will be the Red Raiders' first returning 1,000-yard receiver since Michael Crabtree in 2007-08. Darrin Moore is gone, but Amaro wouldn't have been far from 1,000 yards if he'd avoided a rib injury suffered in the sixth game of the season when he racked up 156 receiving yards and a score in a blowout win over West Virginia. Jakeem Grant and Javon Bell offer two more solid options at receiver, and ESPN 150 recruits Reginald Davis and Dominique Wheeler may make an impact after redshirting in 2012. Bradley Marquez should find more responsibility this year as well. This unit is solid from top to bottom, with lots of possible contributors, lots of targets with varying strengths who can help Michael Brewer grow into his new role as starting quarterback. That's nothing new at Texas Tech, and watching his offense take shape in 2013 will look pretty familiar for new coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Weakest position: Safety
Replacing Cody Davis, a four-year starter and the leader of the defense, is an unbelievably difficult task. D.J. Johnson is gone, too, leaving the Red Raiders without their top two tacklers and a big hole at the back of the defense. We saw how poor Tech's defense can look when the safety play is weak like in 2010 and 2011, but the unit grew up a bit this past season, and Davis and Johnson were two big reasons why. New coordinator Matt Wallerstedt will have a lot of youth to deal with back there, and Kevin Curtis will coach the position with the most turnover for Tech in 2013. It's anyone's guess as to who fills Davis' and Johnson's void, and reserve Chris Yeakey is gone, too. Sophomore J.J. Gaines should get a shot, but I wouldn't rule out a position change from a more experienced corner.