Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Prelude to a Season... #16

#16.) Texas Tech

What You Need to Know: If you're a Tech fan or have followed college football at all over the last four to five years, you already know the story. Pass happy XBOX-esque attack in Lubbock. Defense? Not so much. Those in the know, including Tech QB Graham Harrel will tell you this year will be different. That this is the year the defense gets it right and at least plays just good enough to not cost the Red Raiders a shot at the Big 12 South.

On paper, the Red Raiders are strong, returning 18 of 22 starters, 10 of which are on offense. Harrel, a senior, is back, as is top target Michael Crabtree. With an offense that expects to lose both of them next year, if they're going to make national noise, now is the time. The question, as has always been the case in West Texas, is the defense. They return 8 starters, but between the conference contenders in the Big 12, the talent is thinnest in Lubbock.

And let's not forget the head coach/mad scientist/weatherman extraordinaire... Mike Leach, seen here:

Who You Need to Know and Their 07 Stats:
QB Graham Harrel: 5705 yds, 48 TD
WR Michael Crabtree: 134 rec., 1962 yds, 22 TD
DE Brandon Williams: 12.5 TFL, 5 sacks

Game To Watch: The schedule is a favorable one for Tech early, as they very well could be undefeated heading to Lawrence for the Jayhawks on October 25. A win there means next week's game with Texas becomes even bigger. A win there means their 11/22 contest at Oklahoma will be for a berth to the Big 12 title game. All big if's, all big improbables.

They'll Do Well If...: The defense plays just well enough to not force the offense to play perfect in big games.

Season Outlook: Riding momentum may carry Tech past Kansas, but beating Oklahoma and Texas is a tall order. Mercifully for the Tech defense Missouri is off the schedule this year. That bodes well for the Red Raiders, but it is difficult to see a scenario where Tech finishes ahead of both Texas and Oklahoma for the South's berth in the championship game. Optimistically, they may finish in a tie for 2nd in their division and fourth in the conference. Realistically, it's third in the Big12 south and a 9-3 record.

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