Like any football team, good, mediocre or bad, Texas Tech has several players whose play will be particularly critical to the squad's success. These players, whether by virtue of sheer talent, experience, leadership ability, importance of the position played, or depth concerns, are especially crucial. They may or not be the best players on the club, but they would be very conspicuous were they to be absent for any reason. In fact, that may be the best way to conceive of the critical players—they are the performers the team could least afford to lose.
With this weekly series, we will take a reverse order look at the Red Raider football players we consider most invaluable.
Offensive linemen get less publicity than any players in football. And among offensive linemen, guards are probably the most anonymous. But lack of notoriety hardly means unimportant. Former Red Raider boss Mike Leach, a man who knows a thing or two about offensive football, regarded offensive linemen as the most important players on offense, and I suspect current Tech chief Tommy Tuberville would agree with him.
Texas Tech returns all five starters from last year's rather decent offensive line, and one of the best of them is left guard Lonnie Edwards. The six-foot-four 320-pound junior from Brownsboro has been a fixture in the Tech rotation, either as a starter or backup, almost since his arrival in Lubbock. Edwards capped off his sophomore campaign by earning second-team All Big 12 honors from various sources, including the conference's coaches. He will be a prime candidate for first-team status in this, his junior season.
Edwards, who is already on NFL draft radars in a big way, is Tech's best drive blocker. Line coach Matt Moore has described Edwards as one of his most physical players. He is one of the strongest guys on the roster as well.
Edwards will obviously be most critical in the Red Raider ground game. Coach Tuberville has already beefed up the Tech running attack, and he would like to see it become even more proficient in 2011. The reliable and durable Edwards will be key to achieving that goal. Red Raider running backs ran early and often behind Edwards in the spring, and backs usually run to daylight. Expect Edwards to create loads of daylight in 2011, and therein will lay his importance.