For many NCAA Division 1A football programs, getting into a bowl and having a winning season is a successful season. While this is the case with inconsistent and lower-level BCS conference teams and intermediate conference leading teams, others have to step up their goals. Texas Tech is a perfect example of this, as Red Raider football has had twelve consecutive winning seasons and, better yet, it has won five of the last six bowl games it has appeared in.
It’s time to raise your expectations for what these Red Raiders can do. Here’s an early look at the upcoming season.
With 10 coming back on the offensive side of the ball, including Graham Harrell (the nation’s top passer) and Red-jersey first-year phenom Michael Crabtree (the nation’s top receiver and Bietnokiff Award winner), this group should focus primarily on in not making mental mistakes. Before the Gator Bowl, Graham Harrell has proven his vulnerability against ranked opponents by throwing 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in a measly 1-6 record over the past two seasons. Next season he will have to be more patient and error-free when throwing the ball in these types of games. Texas Tech wide receivers had numerous knockdowns in the 2008 Gator Bowl, but more importantly, Harrell didn’t make many mistakes with his pitches, excluding a pass that could have been intercepted in the second half. The entire offensive line returns next season, but left tackle Rylan Reed will need to make a full recovery from his recent broken ankle at the Gator Bowl.
DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS
Eight starters return on defense and many others, like linebacker Brian Duncan, will need to step up and fill in the gaps. The most important aspect of a successful season next year will be the ability to stop, or at least contain, the run because not many other Big 12 teams will be able to pass as the tech offense. Texas Tech will need to find a replacement kicker for Alex Trlica, who has gone his entire career without losing an extra point. This can probably be found in junior kicker Cory Fowler.
As any Texas Tech fan will tell you, it’s not too easy to recruit good soccer players to come to Lubbock when they can go to College Station or Austin. Still, the nation’s No. 2 pick, wide receiver Julio Jones (1,181 yards and 16 TDs as a senior), is still considering Tech as well as other top receivers. Overall, Texas Tech has 11 committed players from the class of 2008 so far, including 7 defensive players, 3 of whom are junior college transfers that are calculated to have an immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball. Harrison Jeffers, a running back from Oklahoma ranked 11th nationally, also hopes to have a chance to make a name for himself in the coming years as the Red Raider.
2008 is definitely the year Texas Tech football needs to make a statement at the Big 12 conference, or else it could be time for a change. It will be a long offseason for the Red Raiders, but this fall is BCS or failure!