As we begin the month of June and blankly stare at the countdown clock posted on various websites throughout the internet, let's put that time to good use. I'll have a prediction a week up to Big 12 Media Days on July 22-23 in Dallas. By the way, it's 88 days until the kickoff of the 2013 season, 59 or so days until camp begins (no official date has been announced, yet, so we'll use August 1, and 49 days until Big 12 media days if anyone is counting.
So with that, here is the first prediction:
Texas Tech will be top 3 in the Big 12 in rushing in 2013.
Now don't get me wrong, I love the Air Raid, I love the return of the 6 routes, the 9 routes, and that receivers are once again allowed to make in-route adjustments. That will all still be there. And I think Texas Tech will eventually get to a point where they will force their will upon an opposing defense by throwing to set up the run. But 2013 will be different.
First, look at the depth chart. While Eric Ward is a returning 1000 yard receiver, where else is the returning experience in the 2 deep? The other current 7 players on the post-spring depth chart account for a total of 132 career catches. To this point, Jace Amaro (32 career catches) and Bradley Marquez (41 career catches), have not proven they can perform consistently on a game in and game out basis. That's not saying they won't, but their careers are already halfway through.
Second, in contrast to the lack of experience at receiver, the talent at running back is overloaded. Kenny Williams ran for over 800 yards in 2012 and almost 6 per carry. Deandre Washington had 366 as a true freshman 2011, and if the spring is any indication it appears has regained his pre-injury form. Factor in Quentin White, who redshirted in 2012, but wowed crowds of spectators in spring scrimmages, and Tyler Middleton, who may be the fastest back of all of them, and the weapons are a plenty in 2013. And if Charles Sims transfers to Texas Tech from the University of Houston, as was rumored last week, this argument is strengthened.
Also, factor in a new quarterback. No matter who the new QB is, there will be an adjustment to game speed, and on field vision. And what does a young quarterback historically do when facing a little bit of pressure? After his primary and secondary reads, he tucks and runs. That will add to the pile of rushing yards I expect to see from this team this season.
Another factor in the rushing prediction of 2013 is that Kliff said so…Sort of… While Coach Kingsbury didn't come out and say they're going to the ground assault in 2013, he HAS pointed out on multiple occasions that his offenses led the country in passing while at Houston and led the SEC in rushing while coordinating the offense at Texas A&M. He'll use the weapons available to him and right now, the proven commodities are at running back.
Speaking of our Aggie bretheren, let's look at the A&M running back roster in 2012 and how they finished 2012 in terms of rushing yards.
Johnny Manziel QB – Over 1500 yards rushing. Even with QB sacks factored in, his net yards rushing were 1410 and averaged 7.0 yards per carry. I don't think Brewer or Davis will run for 1500 yards, but I do think 500 (a little over 40 per game) is a reasonable total given what we've seen thus far from Kliff's offense.
Ben Malena – 826 yards. Malena, a 5'8'' 195 junior a year ago led the aggie running backs in 2012. They got him the ball in space on swing passes and screens and he made plays. See anyone on the Tech roster that is similar? (answer: D.Washington,)
Christine Michael – 432 yards. Michael was expected to carry the load for A&M heading to the SEC, but injuries kept him from having the season he was expecting. Still the 5'11'' 220 lb senior did enough to warrant being drafted in the 2nd round. For the Michael comparison, look no farther than Kenny Williams. And he'll have a better year than Michael.
Trey Williams – 387 yards. Williams is the burner. As a freshman, the younger brother of former Tech WR Tyson Williams was electric. And like most freshmen of Williams' callibur, he seemed to figure it out as the season went along. Williams also led A&M in kick return yardage in 2012. If that's all Tyler Middleton does for Tech in 2013, that will be a success, but something tells me there's more in the works for the Midland Speedster.
Those are the top 4 for A&M last year and Tech has a comparable asset already on the roster in each of those spots, plus Quentin White, so the elements are in place. That said, one thing Kliff had the luxury of for the aggies in 2012 that he will not have for Tech in 2013 and that's two first round draft picks on the offensive line anchoring the tackle spots.
My final reason for Tech being a top 3 rushing team in 2013 is the defense. The D is simply not deep enough to withstand a litany of quick strike passes in 2013 and I think coaching in the SEC taught Kliff several things. One of them being is that it's ok to count on your defense for a key stop, but there has to be some gas left in the tank in the 4th quarter if they are going to be asked to get that key stand.
There it is, why Tech will be a top 3 rushing team in the Big 12 in 2013. Agree? Disagree? Let's discuss it. Anything to pass the time while we wait for the season to start.