Texas Tech Red Raiders
Big 12 Conference
2008 Record: (11-2, 7-1)
2008 Bowl: Cotton Bowl vs. Mississippi (L 34-47)
Coach: Mike Leach (76-39 at Texas Tech, 76-39 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Leach
Defensive Coordinator: Ruffin McNeill
Rushing: Baron Batch, RB, 758 yards
Passing: Taylor Potts, QB, 260 yards
Receiving: Detron Lewis, WR, 913
Tackles: Brian Duncan, LB, 89
Sacks: McKinner Dixon, DE, 8.0
Interceptions: Brian Duncan, LB, 2; Jamar Wall, CB, 2
Other Key Returnees: LB Bront Bird, WR Edward Britton, C Shawn Byrnes, G Brandon Carter, DT Richard Jones, CB Brent Nickerson, WR Tramain Swindall, DT Colby Whitlock, LB Marlon Williams, OT Marlon Win
Key Losses: CB Daniel Charbonnet, WR Michael Crabtree, QB Graham Harrell, S Anthony Hines, CB Darcel McBath, WR Eric Morris, OT Rylan Reed, G Louis Vasquez, DE Brandon Williams
Was 2008 the pinnacle of what Texas Tech can accomplish? The team posted an 11-1 record and besides a slaughtering at the hands of Oklahoma, the Red Raiders could have had a shot at the Big 12 Championship and the National Championship. And that was with an experienced defense, a very experienced quarterback and the best receiver Texas Tech has ever seen. And now they have to do it without a large portion of that defense, Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree.
Coach Mike Leach will always have a dynamic passing offense. Even without Crabtree and Harrell, the passing attack will still be one of the most prolific in the nation. And it is not like the cupboard is totally bare. Receivers Detron Lewis, Edward Britton and Tramain Swindall all tallied at least 500 receiving yards on the year and there are plenty of other less experienced options who will step up and be a big part of the offense. Even running back Baron Batch is a quality pass catcher and can mix in the occasional run. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry as a sophomore and his junior year should be even more productive…especially if Taylor Potts can pick up where Harrell left off. Texas Tech will always have a very productive quarterback and Potts is the next in line. He might not throw 45 touchdowns and just nine interceptions like Harrell did in 2008, but Potts fits into the system and should be very successful.
Texas Tech's weakness has to be on the defensive side of the ball. The defense did very well last year and that is why the Red Raiders were a player in the Big 12 South. But can they keep it up this year without end Brandon Williams? Williams was a terror in the backfield, tallying 12.5 tackles-for-loss and 11 sacks. McKinner Dixon was a pleasant surprise last season, but Coach Leach needs to find another end who can get into the backfield. Williams and Dixon accounted for a majority of the team's sacks and nobody else on the roster tallied more than three on the season. The defense will not usually mix it up and send the secondary after the quarterback, but consistent pressure from the front four is a must and Dixon cannot do that on his own.
The Bottom Line:
The bigger losses are in the secondary and this could very quickly turn into the Texas Tech of old where the offense puts up a ton of points but the defense gives up more. Corner Jamar Wall is a very good corner, but most of his mates in the secondary are gone. If the front line fails to get to the quarterback in this conference any secondary will have big problems. A young and inexperienced secondary like the one in Lubbock will get destroyed.
2008 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 117.85 (94th in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 413.15 (1, 1)
Total Offense: 531.00 (4, 2)
Scoring Offense: 43.77 (3, 2)
Rushing Defense: 140.38 (61, 8)
Pass Defense: 242.23 (94, 3)
Total Defense: 382.62 (79, 5)
Scoring Defense: 27.85 (74, 4)
Turnover Margin: .62 (22, 3)
Sacks: 2.62 (18, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (4, 2)