Like any football team, Texas Tech has several players whose performance will be particularly critical to the squad's success. These players, whether by virtue experience, leadership, importance of the position played, depth concerns, or sheer talent, 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 series, we will take a reverse order look at the Red Raider football players we consider most invaluable.
6' 1" 185
Lake Travis, Texas
The last Texas Tech quarterback to start full-time as a sophomore was one Graham Harrell in 2006. Perhaps that is an auspicious omen for sophomore Michael Brewer who will be Tech's man behind center for the 2013 season.
Brewer is accompanied by fanfare similar to Harrell's, having been part of four state championship teams at Lake Travis and losing only one high school game as a starting quarterback. But while the larger Harrell was more of a prototype quarterback, Brewer's chief assets may be the fabled intangibles.
Brewer is often regarded as a "gamer," and a "winner." The SMU Mustangs in their heyday had such a quarterback in Lance McIlhenny. So did Texas A&M in Bucky Richardson. And more recently, a gamer by the name of Chase Daniel led the Missouri Tigers to their best season in school history in 2007. Those are quarterbacks to whom Brewer may be compared.
Common traits for McIlhenny, Richardson, Daniel and Brewer are that all are less than six-foot-two, and more important, all were/are good runners. The extent of Brewer's running prowess, and just how often he will exercise it remain to be seen. He never really got the chance to showcase his wheels as a freshman, and quarterback runs during practice are meaningless because defenders cannot hit the QB.
Nevertheless, Brewer was regarded as a legitimate dual-threat quarterback in high school, and there is no real doubt about his speed, quickness and general shiftiness. When Brewer carries the ball he looks like an Air Force quarterback, and that is no small compliment.
It should also be noted that Johnny Manziel, Kliff Kingsbury's quarterback last season at Texas A&M, rushed for over 1,400 yards. Nobody expects such numbers from Brewer, for all sorts of reasons, but Manziel's colossal ground output proves that Kingsbury, unlike mentor Mike Leach, is willing to give mobile quarterbacks the green light to tuck and run.
Neither Brewer, nor backups Davis Webb and Clayton Nicholas had a tremendous spring throwing the football. None of that trio was able to really make the offense go consistently through the air. That said, Brewer was clearly the cream of this crop, and in his outings as a freshman, looked amazingly confident and poised in the pocket and throwing the football.
A good deal of that confidence undoubtedly stemmed from the fact that Brewer had near total mastery of Neal Brown's offense. Suffice it to say that Brewer is still learning Kingsbury's scheme. But once Brewer fully digests Kingsbury's package there is every reason to believe that he will be very dynamic in the passing game. And Brewer is a highly intelligent young man--expect him to catch fire in Kingsbury's offense sooner rather than later.