Texas Tech Preview: Offensive Line

RaiderPower.com's Joe Yeager takes a look at the big guys up front who have trimmed down quite a bit to become faster, stronger and more agile.

In a very short while Texas Tech's fall camp will begin, which means that football in earnest is tap, tap, tapping on the door. We duly open that door with an analysis of Tech's positions and units as they currently stand.

2010 Position Grade: All in all the Red Raider offensive line played commendably in 2010. Despite having to protect a quarterback with all the maneuverability of a cement mixer, Tech allowed only 1.62 sacks per game, which ranked No.43 in the nation.

Forty-three doesn't sound that great until one considers that Tech was No.4 in pass attempts, and two of the three teams ahead of the Red Raiders played one more game than Tech. In short, Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield threw a lot of balls and rarely paid a price.

Run blocking, a renewed item of emphasis with Tommy Tuberville, was also more than acceptable. Thanks largely to the yeoman efforts of Lonnie Edwards and Justin Keown, Baron Batch and Eric Stephens averaged 4.61 and 5.26 yards per carry respectively. That's quite respectable.

The line played better as the season went along and the postseason voters took note. Right tackle Mickey Okafor and left guard Edwards received All Conference notice. Both players, along with their sidekicks, return.

Grade: B+

Your Starters: All starters are back for the Red Raiders, and so is a key backup. Left tackle LaAdrian Waddle is as talented as any offensive lineman in the Big 12. He is huge and he is mobile. He also suffered a knee/ankle injury in the spring and the hope is that he'll suffer no lingering effects in fall workouts and during the season.

Left guard Lonnie Edwards is the classic road-grading guard. He's one of the strongest players on the team and plays like somebody stole a biscuit off his plate.

Center Justin Keown may be the most underrated player on the Tech squad. He's technically sound, tough as a scorpion, and has developed into an excellent team leader. Keown is also durable and experienced.

Right guard Deveric Gallington is a serviceable Big 12 starter, but does need to improve his consistency. Gallington is a strong, rugged player and could develop into a very good one if he puts in the effort.

Right tackle Mickey Okafor was a pleasant surprise a year ago. Now the pressure is on him to dominate. Like Keown, Okafor is a bright player and has some leadership ability.

The Field: Jack-of-all-trades Terry McDaniel has talent comparable to that of Waddle with whom he is currently competing at left tackle. McDaniel has superlative athleticism and is a tremendous technician. If he had the nasty mentality of a Rylan Reed, Brandon Carter, Louis Vasquez or Manny Ramirez, he might be an All American candidate right now. But McDaniel is a nice guy doing a mean man's work. It's strictly his athleticism and size that makes him the player he is.

If, as seems likely, McDaniel is unable to unseat Waddle, he could be shifted to right guard to compete with Gallington, or he could even find a home at center backing up Keown. David Neill, Keown's current backup, was not the answer in the spring and expectations are that incoming freshman Tony Morales will be up to the task. If not, offensive line coach Matt Moore could experiment with moving McDaniel to center.

Backup right tackle Beau Carpenter is an intriguing prospect. The redshirt freshman is big, talented and unpleasant. He's learning from wizened veteran Okafor right now, but will be an All Conference player very soon after he moves into the starting lineup.


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