If preseason predictions are any indication—and they are—not much is expected of the 2012 Texas Tech Red Raiders. Just as many Tech fans were traumatized by Oklahoma State and Baylor hanging a double six on the Red Raiders, so too were the pundits enduringly impressed by the awfulness. And it takes time and on-field accomplishments to wash away impressions such as those.
Despite the general disregard in which this team is seemingly held however, the current squad does have several bricks from which to build a doughty edifice. There are units and players around which this group can rally.
Let's take a look at them.
Quarterback: With better support from his defense, Seth Doege is capable of surprising folks and making a legitimate run at All Big 12 honors. Of course, for him to pull down the most coveted hardware, the team will have to win many games. But Doege has the accuracy, he has the arm, and his confidence is improving. If Doege improves his touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio, he should have big year.
But Doege's not the only story here. Redshirt freshman Michael Brewer exited the waiting bench in the Red-Black Scrimmage and put on a true aerial display. If that performance is a signal of things to come, depth behind Doege will be sterling indeed.
Darrin Moore and Eric Ward are the headliners, but players such as Bradley Marquez, Jace Amaro, Javon Bell, Jakeem Grant and Marcus Kennard also have the talent to dominate in any given game. And that's just scratching the surface. There are probably five other receivers on the roster who are more than capable of helping Tech win games.
Defensive End: Unless you're intimately familiar with this team, Tech's defensive ends will not wow you. There's scarcely a sack to be seen on this group's resume. But there is talent aplenty, and it showed signs of developing in the spring.
Dartwan Bush was barely blockable and looks ready to blossom into one of the Big 12's better pass rushers. Redshirt freshman Branden Jackson was pouring it on toward the end of spring. Jackson Richards and even Chris Knighton have the ability to play well against the run. And if Pete Robertson is everything the coaches are cracking him up to be, Tech's pass rush may return to the glory days of Brandon Williams and Brandon Sharpe.
Linebacker: I'm calling it right now. Tech's linebackers will be the surprise of the season for the Red Raiders.
Middle backer Will Smith is unlike any linebacker Tech has had since Thomas Howard, and should be Tech's best since Zach Thomas. If he can stay healthy, Terrance Bullitt will be a big-play specialist. And Sam Eguavoen has the fluidity and the speed to make all sorts of plays in the passing game. He just needs experience.
Cornerback: If the linebackers will be the surprise of the season, the cornerbacks were the surprise of the spring. Thus their success shouldn't shock in the fall.
Along with Will Smith, Cornelius Douglas looks like Tech's strongest All Big 12 bet on the defensive side of the ball. But don't sleep on Eugene Neboh. Yes, he's a former walk-on and had only a so-so 2011 season, but he looked vastly improved in the spring. Douglas got all the publicity, but Neboh was quietly very effective.
If backups such as Jarvis Phillips, Jeremy Reynolds and Thierry Nguema can fill in capably from time to time, Tech's corners will be solid as a rock.