Tuesday, August 28, 2007

2007 Season Preview: Texas Tech Red Raiders

In preparation for the 2007 College Football season, Drinking the Forty will look at every team in the Big XII, sizing up the conference for the 2007 season.

2006 was a bit of a disappointment for the Red Raiders as they were surpassed by Texas A&M in the pecking order in the Big XII South. The season was marred with inconsistent play, with losses to Missouri at home and Colorado on the road. However, the Red Raiders are ready for 2007 with the return of junior quarterback Graham Harrell, ready to build on an outstanding season in 2006.

Graham Harrell leads an offense that averaged 360 yards through the air per game. Coming off a season where he threw for 4,555 yards and 38 touchdowns, Harrell should only build those numbers, and is eyeing 5,000 yards this season. While Harrell loses his top two receivers, there are plenty of receivers waiting in the wings, ready to reap the benefits of playing in Mike Leach's offensive system. The system continues to put points on the board, making stars of whoever lines up. Look for junior tailback Shannon Woods (926 yds/10 TD) and senior receiver Danny Amendola (48 rec/487 yds/5 TD) to emerge and lead this offense.

One knows what to expect out of the Texas Tech offense, but it is on the defensive end where Texas Tech must prove itself. Teams find success running the ball against Tech, keeping their high-powered offense off the field. 2006 was no different as teams averaged 151 yards on the ground a game. This season will be no different as Texas Tech returns only one defensive lineman and one linebacker from a season ago. Tech will once again rely on their safeties, junior Darcel MacBath (75 tackles, 3 int) and senior Joe Garcia (87 tackles, 1 int). They will also need senior linebacker Kellen Tillman (42 tackles, 1 int) to step up. However, Texas Tech's defense will once again struggle this year to support their offense.

Texas Tech will benefit from having Texas A&M and Oklahoma visit Lubbock in 2007, but must go on the road against Oklahoma State, #4 Texas and Missouri. Texas Tech will also struggle to stop offenses like Oklahoma State, Texas and Missouri. Ultimately they will fall short in the shoot-outs if their defense cannot come up with a stop when they need to. However, they will once again be a dark horse in the Big XII South, with Mike Leach's air it out offense.

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