During the past couple of weeks, we’ve been examining the strongest and weakest positions for each team in the Big 12 going into the fall.
We continue the series below with the Texas Tech Red Raiders:
Strongest position: Running back
The Red Raiders have plenty of options to carry the football.
Generally thought to be a pass-happy spread offense, Tech finished fifth in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game with their 153-yard average ranking better than Texas, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. Running back DeAndre Washington returns as one of the Big 12’s top running backs after 1,103 rushing yards a year ago.
Sophomore Justin Stockton brings his explosiveness to the offense after spot duty as a true freshman, which included a 75-yard run against UTEP and 69-yard run against West Virginia. He averaged 8.25 yards per carry in 2014 and should see his role expand after a solid spring.
Redshirt freshman Demarcus Felton was one of the Red Raiders stars of the spring, pushing to earn a role during his first season on the field in 2015. Felton’s emergence means Kliff Kingsbury’s squad looks to be three deep at running back heading into the summer. The Red Raiders will also add Corey Dauphine -- the No. 296 player in the ESPN300 -- to the mix in the summer, giving Tech one of the deepest groups of ball carriers in the league.
Weakest position: Defensive tackle
The Red Raiders allowed a Big 12-worst 259.9 rushing yards per game in 2014. And that starts in the trenches. There’s plenty of room for improvement for a defense that opposing offenses attacked on the ground throughout the year.
The Red Raiders switch to a four-man front means the perimeter should be solid with Big 12 sack leader Pete Robertson along with Branden Jackson on the outside. That duo should help give the interior players opportunities to make an impact.
Alongside a solid perimeter on the defensive front, Tech’s defensive interior could be improved this fall with senior Rika Levi taking a step forward in the spring, senior Keland McElrath bringing experience and the addition of Brieden Fehoko in the defensive interior.
Levi has lost weight and is improving heading into his final season with the Red Raiders. There were high hopes for the junior college transfer when he joined the squad prior to the 2014 season but he started just four games, finishing with 1.5 tackles for loss and half of a sack. But he seems ready to greatly increase his production this fall after slimming down and focusing on his final season in Lubbock, Texas.
Fehoko joined the Red Raiders in the spring as an early enrollee in January and that decision appears to be paying off. He showed enough to be considered an immediate impact player as a true freshman, even if he doesn’t secure a starting role. The ESPN300 signee has exceptional talent and should help upgrade the defensive interior.