Sunday, June 6, 2010

Pre-Season Preview: Texas Tech Red Raiders

2009 Record: 9-4 (5-3 in Big 12)
2009 Bowl: Alamo Bowl (beat Michigan State 41-31)
Final 2009 AP Ranking:  #21
Head Coach: Tommy Tuberville (1st year at Texas Tech, 110-60 all-time)
Non-Conference Schedule: SMU (9/5), at New Mexico (9/11), Weber State (11/20), Houston (11/27)

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 37.0 points per game (2nd in Big 12, 7th in Nation)
Rushing Yards/Game: 84 (last in Big 12, 115th in Nation)
Passing Yards/Game: 386 (1st in Big 12, 2nd in Nation)
Total Yards/Game: 470 (1st in Big 12, 4th in Nation) 

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 22.5 points per game (6th in Big 12)
Rushing Yards/Game: 126 (7th in Big 12)
Passing Yards/Game: 225 (5th in Big 12)
Total Yards/Game: 352 (6th in Big 12)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: -0.46 per game (11th in Big 12)
Penalties: 78 yards per game (11th in Big 12, 118th in Nation)

Returning Starters
Offense: 7
Defense: 6
Kicker/Punter: 2

Phil Steele All-Big 12 Pre-Season  
LB Brian Duncan (First Team)
WR Alexander Torres (Second Team)
DT Colby Whitlock (Second Team)
S Cody Davis (Second Team)
RB Baron Batch (Third Team)
LB Bront Bird (Third Team)
KR Eric Stephens (Third Team)
WR Detron Lewis (Fourth Team)
K Matthew Williams (Fourth Team)
PR Austin Zouzalik (Fourth Team)

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Taylor Potts, Sr (309 of 470 for 3440 yds, 22 TD, 13 INT, 312 ypg)
Passing: QB Steven Sheffield, Sr (101 of 136 for 1219 yds, 14 TD, 4 INT, 174 ypg)
Rushing: RB Baron Batch, Sr (168 carries for 884 yds, 14 TD, 5.2 ypc, 68 ypg)
Receiving: WR Detron Lewis, Sr (65 rec, 844 yds, 6 TD, 5.0 rec/game)
Receiving: WR Alexander Torres, Sr (67 rec, 806 yds, 6 TD, 5.2 rec/game)
Tackles: LB Brandon Duncan, Sr (87)
Sacks: DT Colby Whitlock, Sr (3.5)
Interceptions: S Franklin Mitchem, Sr (2); DB LaRon Moore, Sr (2)

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Athlon Sports: #37
Lindy's: Not Ranked
Mark Schlabach: Not Ranked
Rivals: Not Ranked
Scout: Not Ranked
Sporting News: #36
Sports Illustrated: Not Ranked

2010 Pre-Season Big 12 South Prediction:
Athlon Sports: #4
Phil Steele: #4

Bowl Prediction:
Athlon Sports: Holiday Bowl (vs. Oregon State)
Phil Steele: Holiday Bowl (vs. Arizona)

Last year Texas Tech had an ugly divorce with Mike Leach. They are still in court trying to figure out who gets the house and who gets the dog. In the meantime Texas Tech has tied the knot with Tommy Tuberville. Tuberville inherits some good talent at the skill positions and some senior leaders on defense. It will be very interesting to see how Tuberville and OC Neal Brown break in the new offense. With so many seniors returning at key positions Texas Tech has a chance to surprise some people this year. Of course, they also play in the Big 12 South so they have Texas and Oklahoma to contend with. We sought out Seth from the SB Nation site Double-T Nation to find out his thoughts on Texas Tech's chances in 2010.

What are the major strengths and biggest weaknesses of the team?

Offensively, the biggest strength is the quality and depth at the skill positions. The running back position is absolutely stacked with Baron Batch, Harrison Jeffers and Eric Stephens, while the receiving corps is a deep unit. Detron Lewis, Alexander Torres and Tramain Swindall lead a relatively young group of receivers. The biggest unknown on offense is whether either quarterback, Steven Sheffield and Taylor Potts, can stay healthy and how the right side of the offensive line will shake out. Defensively, three of four starters return in the secondary and three of four starters return at linebacker. Safeties Cody Davis, Franklin Mitchem return, as does cornerback LaRon Moore. Although the defense is for the most part switching to a 3-4, linebackers Brian Duncan, Bront Bird and Julius Howard (I'm considering Howard to be a starter as he was the team's nickel back) all return and played major parts last year. The defensive line is the biggest question mark for this team. DT Colby Whitlock returns and is as solid a defensive tackle prospect that you'll find, but there's lots of questions at the other defensive line spots, including who steps up at the defensive end positions.

Looking at the schedule who will be the first major test?

The Texas Longhorns, the third week of the season in Lubbock will be the first big test of the season. The game was moved up to be on television and I expect both the Longhorns and the Red Raiders to play fairly vanilla schemes until this game.

What team on the schedule do you fear the most?

Probably going to Norman where I would expect the Sooners will be looking to exact a bit of revenge after last year's 41-13 win. Nothing really went right for Oklahoma that Saturday afternoon and this of course was on the heels of OU absolutely waylaying Texas Tech in 2008, 21-65.

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

Seemingly, I think that the best player that no one knows about is LG Lonnie Edwards. Edwards is incredibly strong, an absolute mauler along the offensive line and does a really good job of protecting the quarterback's blindside.

Who is the best offensive player on the team?

RB Baron Batch is my favorite player to watch, although I think that you could pick from a handful of receivers. Batch is explosive and because this version of the offense is going to get the ball to the running back a handful more times during the game, I think that it could certainly have an affect on Batch's numbers. As a player, Batch is explosive, is bigger than most a lot of people think (5-11/205), isn't afraid of contact and can certainly run over a defender or two.

Who is the most impactful defensive player on the team?

DT Colby Whitlock is probably the best defensive player on the team. Whitlock was recently rated at the #54 best NFL prospect by the National Football Post and although his name isn't mentioned all that much, he's an all-conference type of player.

What player(s) needs to step up this year in order for the team to reach it's full capability?

Inside LB Brian Duncan is being switched to an outside LB role this year and I think that his progress, as being a player that has the ability to stop the run, hold off an offensive tackle, and rush the passer is going to be a big part of how quickly this defense assimilates to Tuberville's 3-4 scheme. It sounds as if Tuberville is going to only play a 3-4, maybe 50% of the time, but this is a completely different look for a player like Duncan.

Who is the top offensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

WR Eric Ward, a former 4-star receiver, who redshirted last year is expected to make an absolutely huge impact. Ward will force his way onto the field this year, he's too talented (think the size of a running back, but very soft hands).

Who is the top defensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

JUCO DE Scott Smith, who was the 4th best JUCO player in the 2010 Recruiting Class. Texas Tech graduated their three top pass-rushers last year, Brandon Sharpe, Daniel Howard and Rajon Henley, and there's going to have to be someone who steps up to play defensive end start rushing the passer.

Gut feeling on the teams final record at the end of the regular season and what makes this a successful season in your eyes?

If this team can get nine wins this year, I think I'll be pretty happy. With everything that's happened since December, complete program overhaul, terminating a head coach, etc., it's been a whirlwind. Anything over and above nine wins would be gravy and I think that generally, that's about where most Texas Tech fans are at this point.

Thanks again to Seth and Double-T Nation. Follow them on Twitter @doubletnation for all of your Texas Tech needs.

Next Up: Bowling Green Falcons

2010 Previews
Big 12- Kansas State Wildcats, Missouri Tigers
Big East- Cincinnati Bearcats, Pittsburgh Panthers, West Virginia Mountaineers
Big Ten- Michigan WolverinesMinnesota Golden Gophers, Northwestern Wildcats, Purdue Boilermakers
Conference USA- Houston CougarsTulane Green Wave, UTEP Miners
MAC- Buffalo Bulls, Temple Owls
Mountain West- Utah Utes
Pac-10- Oregon Ducks, USC Trojans, Washington Huskies
Sun Belt- Troy Trojans
WAC- New Mexico State Aggies


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