Big expectations for O-Line

With spring practice under way, Red Raider fans are anxiously awaiting the 2008 season. After returning all but one starter on offense, Graham Harrell and company expect to shatter records and possibly make a run at the Big 12 South title. For the Red Raiders to do that, however, the offensive line will have to build upon last year's successes. Coach Moore intends to see that they do just that.

In 2007, Texas Tech's offensive line's play was surprising to many who had assumed it would be a rebuilding year after a couple of coaching changes and losing four of their starters from the 2006 season.

With Louis Vasquez as the lone returning starter, Rylan Reed, Sean Byrnes, Brandon Carter, Jake Johnson, and Marlon Winn picked up where the 2006 linemen left off, giving up only 15 sacks for 110 yards on the season.

Coach Matt Moore explained that with all of his starters back, the groundwork has already been laid and his main job will be to make small adjustments this spring.

"It's nice to come out here with four of the five guys that I finished with starting. A lot of communication work's already done. And from a coaching standpoint, it's going to be more technique stuff than having to teach a bunch of scheme.

"The good thing is that I came into a system that was already established and the guys already knew a lot of the scheme. And so we can really just hunker down on the technique and the reps. And that's all they needed was reps. As the season went on we got better and better."

After losing Jake Johnson in the Colorado game and Rylan Reed in the bowl game to injuries, is Moore worried about them not being able to participate in practices this spring?

"I know they're going to come back to me in great shape in August. And they've got enough reps, you know it never hurts to get more, but with Rylan playing every snap and Jake getting a lot of snaps, they'll both come back and do a good job."

With Reed on the injured list, Redshirt freshman Mickey Okafor looks to be one of the top candidates to step up and play at the left tackle position. He hardly left the field in Wednesday's practice and saw significant time at left tackle.

"I'm just trying to get him as many reps as I could get him. He's got a short time to get real good before we put pads on him to be able to protect Graham's backside on Saturday, so I've got to get him as many reps as I can."

Moore continued, "That's the open spot, and he's got the frame to play that spot, so that's where he goes. He's got the opportunity to win the job for the spring and we'll see if he can get it done."

In addition to returning all of his starters, Moore is excited about the upcoming linemen. With a redshirt year under their belts, Dominique Delpeche, Lonnie Edwards, Blake Emert, and Jerrod Gooch have slimmed down, bulked up, and are going to compete for playing time as well.

Moore explained, "From a body standpoint, their bodies change so much from their senior year in high school to their redshirt sophomore year in college. And they've lost a lot of baby fat and got themselves in really good shape and have gotten a lot stronger."

As for overall goals for his unit, Coach Moore expects to see significant improvement this spring.

"Our goal is to start off now in the spring where we finished and to not have digressed any. We want to be that good and be able to build on that going into next year.

"They looked really good, but you know, it's hard to tell. You look really good when you've got nothing on but helmets, so we didn't even give up a sack [laughs]. Yeah, they looked real good."


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