5 Questions Texas Tech Football Needs to Answer in Spring Football
Spring Football is in full swing now with pads and everything. How fun.
It holds little to zero water for the 2016 season, and publicly Coach Kingsbury will likely carry most position battles forward right 'til the ball is snapped in the first game.
But, like the Pat Mahomes/Davis Webb battle last off-season, a leader will emerge whether Kliff admits it or not.
All that being said, there are five spots that the Red Raiders football team should find some answers at before the Red and Black game concludes spring practice.
Long time anchors along the Red Raider O-Line, Le'Raven Clark and Jared Kaster, are gone. Alfredo Morales and Emeka Okafor are gone. That's all five Bowl Game starters.
This offensive line was a huge reason behind the success of DeAndre Washington the past two seasons. Baylen Brown is the only healthy returner that has extensive experience along the offensive line.
Tony Morales, who started most of the season last year, will return for a 6th year of eligibility after his first four seasons were decimated by injury.
Justin Murphy, who won't practice this spring as he recovers from knee surgery, is another player who has All-Big 12 potential at guard according to Coach Lee Hays.
Is Robert Castaneda an automatic answer at center? Morales and redshirt freshmen Cody Wheeler and Conner Dyer are also candidates at that spot.
RS Freshmen Terence Steele and Madison Akamnonu are penciled in as starters at the tackle spot.
All that said, there is a ton of depth at offensive line, but it's mostly young and inexperienced depth.
The importance of finding a cohesive unit up front will be paramount for Texas Tech to improve upon the record setting offensive year they had in 2015.
Kick off returns, tipped passes, coming out of the backfield. The dynamic asset that he was will be very hard to replace. In fact, I think that Jakeem will be replaced by a committee of receivers and running backs.
Cameron Batson is the most likely candidate to take over for Grant. He has a similar build and skill set. Batson also has the most experience and has been a returner as well as a receiver.
Another candidate to replace Grant will be JUCO transfer DeQuan Bowman who also has a chance to come in immediately and make an impact. As the kick returner and receiver at the JUCO level, he was an All-American-type threat. We'll see if that translates.
DeAndre Washington will be missed. Big time. He's the best running back Texas Tech has had in the last decade, at least. But he's gone now, and Kingsbury has to find a way to keep his running game viable while not having his workhorse.
The running game is the reason this offense was so prolific last season. Yes, the majority of the points and yards are gained by the passing game, but the threat of the run is what facilitates that.
The obvious choice is the next man up Justin Stockton, who has enjoyed limited success as a scat back / receiver in his first two seasons behind Washington. I think he succeeded in the role he was born to play. A change of pace back. Stockton is great at being the sidekick; can he be the superhero?
There is a stable of running back talent depth for Coach Kingsbury to fill from and the scheme that fits most of them is a zone running, one-cut, speed kills style.
Corey Dauphine and Demarcus Felton will both receive snaps galore this spring with a chance to be heavily targeted in the fall. Senior Quinton White will also be in the mix.
I guess the answer I'm looking for is who is going to step up and be the lead dog. Change of pace doesn't work if there isn't a pace setter.
Obviously, Pat Mahomes is the starter in 2016. But with Davis Webb departing to Colorado, there is an opening on the depth chart.
Mr. Texas Football Jett Duffey is already on campus and a shoe-in for eventual playing time. But for the immediate future, Duffey would benefit greatly from a redshirt season.
Nic Shimonek and Payne Sullins are going to have to be the second line.
I guess the question you're looking for here is: 'Can Shimonek provide enough if he's needed?' We'll see this spring.
I'm just glad the question isn't who is the starting QB going to be.
Most defensive questions can't be answered in Spring Football. Mostly because so much of this recruiting class will be competing for playing time.
The secondary is the most veteran group and will have to provide leadership for this young defense.
Here are some questions I have:
- Is Houston Miller the real deal?
- Is this linebacker core improved?
- Is there a complete coaching staff?
- Is David Gibbs still around?
Those sound sarcastic, but are all completely serious.
Time will tell.