Great Expectations

Great Expectations surround the 2008 Texas Tech Red Raiders, though there are some important holes that must be filled. What does Tech need to focus on to avoid unfulfilled expectations such as those in Dickens' literary masterpiece? Come inside for Football Analyst Mitchell Fish's take on how the Raiders will meet their Great Expectations.

To say that the 2008 edition of Head Coach Mike Leach's Red Raiders are primed for a great season would be an understatement of tremendous proportions. This piece and those to follow will highlight the small holes that exist (in a team that returns 17 starters) but that need to be addressed so that Tech will not be let down as young Pip was in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations .

The first area that must be addressed by Tech is filling the void left by Danny Amendola, who had a tremendous season in 2007 with over 100 catches and 1,000 yards.

Many will say that Amendola, while a competent return man and steady receiver, could be easily replaced by anyone of the talented players on the Raiders' roster. However, what they will struggle to replace is the ability to make a clutch catch at an important time.

Amendola's career started with a bang in 2004 as he had several long punt returns against TCU and looked to be the next Wes Welker, though that comparison would be a shadow he would have difficultly climbing out of.

Starting only half of the games at H in the 2005 season and under-achieving in 2006, Amendola stepped up in a huge way in 2007 to become a dangerous 1-2 punch with Michael Crabtree.

Amendola was (and still is) a tremendous route-runner and had a knack for finding an opening when quarterback Graham Harrell needed it most. In addition to his route-running, he was also a ferocious blocker down the field and a force to be reckoned with on punt returns.

Filling his shoes will not be easy but there are several options to fill this void. The most popular would shift sophomore Detron Lewis to the Y slot position from the H side of the formation. Lewis has similar size and quickness to Amendola, while possibly being shiftier in the open field.

However, Lewis would be playing at the position that has caught 192 passes for 2,048 yards the last two seasons and is the one place that Harrell looks when in trouble. The question becomes do the coaches trust Lewis with this important role.

Lewis would most likely be capable as a replacement but there are also other options. Redshirt freshman Tramain Swindall spent fall practice working at both H and Y inside positions before making the move to Y full time. It is possible that he could see time at Y and fits the mold of Robert Johnson/Mickey Peters better than Detron Lewis.

His size and speed would make him a more formidable target to bring down once he has caught a pass and allow him to catch some of those that a smaller receiver might lose due to a bone-jarring tackle.

The issue that Swindall would present is that he has not caught a single pass or even taken a single snap in a game at the Division 1 level. While performing in practice is one thing, it is entirely different in a game against an opponent who will do all they can to prevent a reception.

Luckily for the Red Raiders they return Mr. All-Everything Michael Crabtree along with Edward Britton, who showed flashes down the stretch, and Eric "Don't Mess With Me" Morris.

This is certainly one of the things that RaiderPower will be watching during Spring Practice but it currently seems as though Detron Lewis would be the most viable option to start the first game at the Y inside-receiver position.

Come back Friday for the next in this 5 part series cover what Texas Tech needs to do to reach their potential in the 2008 season and what to watch for in Spring Practice.

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