Following a miserable second half to the 2011 football season, the Texas Tech Red Raiders entered spring camp plagued by a whole host of questions. A very productive camp answered many, but not all of those queries. Below are some of the more pressing questions that remain outstanding.
If pressed into service, is Michael Brewer qualified to lead the offense? Up until the Red-Black Scrimmage, the answer to this question would have been a hesitant no. Following the scrimmage, it may well be a shaky yes.
Prior to Brewer's epiphany in the spring showcase, he played underwhelmingly. Brewer looked like a quarterback who was afraid of making mistakes, and consequently, he didn't make any plays either.
But a light came on in the Red-Black game. Brewer simply let fly and the results were mighty impressive.
But the jury's still out. Is Michael Brewer the player we saw in the scrimmage, or was that performance just an aberration?
Who totes Tech's rock in 2012? Unfortunately, the running back situation is even more turbid now than it was in February. Ronnie Daniels, who could have been a superstar, is now a what-might-have-been story. Kenny Williams, because of lingering legal questions, remains a question mark. DeAndre Washington and Eric Stephens, two very good running backs, are rehabbing serious injuries and their true status remains unknown.
All of the above leaves SaDale Foster, a JUCO transfer with little actual running back experience, as Tech's lone runner. Foster looked good in two scrimmages, but all alone probably cannot carry the load. Tech really needs two of these backs –Williams, Washington, Stephens—to be ready to go come the season-opener.
Will right tackle be a trouble spot? Freshman Le'Ravin Clark in the starting lineup at right tackle was in reality a maneuver to get him experience against the first team defense. He was not in the lineup because he is Tech's best option at the position. And this became apparent in the spring as ace pass rusher Dartwan Bush wore Clark out on a regular basis.
But if not Clark, who?
The obvious solution is to move starting guard Terry McDaniel to right tackle. If that happens, Neal Brown has indicated Le'Ravin Clark will move to right guard to compete with Kyle Clark and Jared Kaster. But in that event, depth at right tackle becomes a problem. JUCO transfer Rashad Fortenberry, currently the second team left tackle, could be groomed at right tackle as well, just in case.
Will defensive tackle by committee work? It is a fact that Tech does not have a dominant interior defensive lineman. (That is a fact for most D-1 teams, actually.) It is also a fact that interior weakness was a major reason the Red Raiders had the nation's worst run defense in 2011. Obviously, this situation cannot persist.
But have the Red Raiders upgraded at this position?
Certainly the experience is better. Guys like Kerry Hyder, Delvon Simmons and Dennell Wesley now have another year of Big 12 ball under their belts, and that will help. So will the move of Leon Mackey inside, and the addition of JUCO transfer Lee Adams and redshirt freshman Donte Phillips.
But the fact remains that none of those players will cause Big 12 offensive coordinators to lose sleep. Not at this point. Tech's interior defensive linemen still have much to prove.
But at least the numbers are there. If Art Kaufman can get a handful of solid reps out of each of those players, the depth may make up for the lack of superior talent and experience. That is the probably plan of attack.