BRR Countdown - No. 6

We're now moving into the top half of the Big XII in our quick-take on the conference's best, worst and oh, just so-so selections. And as we move into the upper mid-level of the conference, one has to ask themselves just what separates a number 6 from a number 7. My first response is "one number", but as for the rest, check it out as our countdown continues.

What can you say about B.J. Symons? If there was a passing record, he pretty much busted it. If there was records for points, he's probably got those to.

Oh, there's one other thing you can say about him – he's gone.

The passing machine is history, leaving that spot to be taken by 25th year senior, Sonny Cumbie. No kidding, I think the guy came with the program, Cumbie going into his fifth year for the Raiders.

The thing is, how in the heck do you replace the most prolific passer in NCAA history?

All together now, very carefully.

There's little doubt the guy can pass as anyone in head coach Mike Leach's system better know how to do that and do it well. They don't have to be a gunslinger mind you, just able to throw the ball and a lot. As Asst. head coach, Ruffin McNeill stated down in Big XII media days, even with Symons gone, Texas Tech is still Texas Tech. "Like coach Leach says, we throw for a living and not a hobby." McNeill stated. "We come off the bus throwing."

You know, Texas Tech probably will be able to throw and I'm sure they will put up some ridiculous yards as well.

That's not the issue when talking about the Red Raiders though. It's that defense. Or at least, Texas Tech's version of what was supposed to be a defense last year.

You want to talk about what bad means in football terms?

How about 109th in the country in pass defense. How about 91st in rush defense? How about 105th in the country in stopping the other team from scoring? That equals an overall ranking in total defense of 110th, but let's not sugarcoat it.

They were bad.

So bad that coach Ruffin said that taking his defense into a game was "like taking a knife to a gunfight".

I'd agree with that.

When a team is this darn bad on defense, they had better score a bundle on offense just to keep it close. And realistically, Tech can't get any worse.

Yes, that's some pretty faulty logic for lofting the Red Raiders into the top half of the Big Twelve, but I look at a few key things as to just why they are there:

    • Their offensive line should be good. In fact, for this system, probably real good, four out of the five starters coming back. After being there for five years, Chumbie knows the system and there's little doubt that this unit can give him the protection he needs.
    • That defense was bad, but like I said, it can't get much worse and Texas Tech returns 11 total players that had time starting last year. In fact, the one great thing you can say about a year like they had is that you can build depth like crazy because everyone gets to play.
    • A team like this is a spoiler. They almost did it to Texas last year losing by only 3 and when you can put up these kinds of numbers in this kind of system, you are going to get some wins that maybe you might not on one day, but will another. If there was ever a team that had a puncher's chance, this one is it.

Really, that is Texas Tech in a nutshell – they're the puncher. Only with Tech, it's like a series of a thousand punches in the form of passes, each one having it's chance to go the distance.

Ironically enough, Tech will have one of the best defensive players in the conference in DE, Adell Duckett. Last year, he was pretty much the only one.

This year, he should have help.

Tech has a brutal schedule in the conference, having to play all the "big boys" and in a row. It starts with a road trip to Oklahoma, followed by Tech hosting Nebraska and then Texas and they finish up the four-game foray with a trip to Manhattan to play Kansas State.

Kansas, Baylor, Texas A & M and Oklahoma State though, all very winnable games for the boys out of Luibbock.

If they can win those, that gives them four wins on the year, same as the year before. And like I said, I actually give Tech the chance to knock one of those four teams from the upper-echilon of the conference off. Who will it be? It was almost Texas last year.

I'll be eager to see for myself.

Mike Leach has something down in Lubbock. It's like a cartoon on cleats, but offensively, you can't argue with the results. They put up yards in bunches, points by the second power and if there was ever a football version of Loyola Marymount, this is it.

Loyola couldn't play defense either. Let's hope for the Raiders' sake they have learned before the Big XII slate begins.


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