College basketball is heading down the home stretch, college baseball has started, but let’s not forget (I know many of you aren’t) that spring practice is already getting underway across the country. We will handle spring previews for every Big 12 football team and roll them out based on when their respective spring practices begin. We turn our attention to the Texas Tech Red Raiders, as they open spring practice on Saturday, March 3rd.
Most exciting returnee: LB Dakota Allen
There is no doubt that Dakota Allen made quite a splash in his return to Lubbock. Not only was he elected as a team captain, Dakota lead them team in tackles and was second on the team in interceptions as a linebacker. He helped turn this defense that was abysmal in 2016 become respectable in 2017. With some key offensive guys gone, Dakota Allen is the top returning player on this team. He is the is a name that many folks around the Big 12 should be familiar with.
Most exciting newcomer: WR Myller Royals
With Keke Coutee and Dylan Cantrell entering the NFL, several guys will need to step up this coming season for the wide receivers. While Tech seems to always have solid wide receivers on the roster, I am excited about freshman early enrollee Myller Royals. At 6’4, Myller has the size to go up and make those big plays downfield just like he shows on his high school film. I raved about him in a previous article and I still feel like he may be the best freshman wide receiver in the Big 12 this coming season.
Offensive storylines to watch
Texas Tech has had the luxury of pretty much knowing who its quarterback was going to be for the past 3 seasons. Well, that’s not the case for 2018. There are 3 guys who I think are going to be battling it out for the spot in McLane Carter, Jett Duffey and Alan Bowman. McLane has the most experience out of the three, which isn’t saying much since he started just one game before being pulled. Meanwhile Jett Duffey has had off the field issues and has only attempted 4 passes while Alan Bowman is a true freshman early enrollee. Luckily, Kliff Kingsbury is a quarterback guru and all 3 of these guys will be in good hands. I expect a very tough and interesting quarterback battle here.
There were moments where this line really struggled in pass protection and in this offense, pass protection is crucial. However, I will say I thought this unit was going to be a lot worse last season and they did make some improvements. I could have went running back here but this unit really should be interesting to watch. All 5 starters return (LT Travis Bruffy, LG Jacob Hines, C Paul Stawarz, RG Jack Anderson, RT Terence Steele) which should help tremendously heading into the season. With a new face at quarterback, protection will be key as well as paving some lanes for those running backs to balance the offense out.
Defensive storylines to watch
Did this unit improve from 2016 to 2017? Yes, but it still could use a little bit of work. Luckily for Texas Tech, they have some key pieces returning with DE Kolin Hill, DT Broderick Washington Jr. and DE Eli Howard. Somebody will have to fill the shoes of DT Mychealon Thomas but still, this unit should be better in 2018. The Red Raiders were 62nd in run defense which isn’t all that bad, but they were 111th in the country in total sacks which isn’t good when you play in the Big 12.
I think there is talent here and the good news is that the entire secondary will be back for the upcoming season. Corners Octavious Morgan and Desmon Smith now have plenty of experience while safeties Jah’Shawn Johnson and Vaughnte Dorsey will be seniors. Don’t forget that nickelbacks Douglas Coleman and Justice Parker are returning as well. This group did have some ups and downs, especially in conference play. Texas Tech was ranked 122nd in pass defense and gave up the second most touchdown passes in the entire country. I am very interested to see how big of a step this secondary can take considering all the experience that’s coming back.