I just wanted to stop by and say hello to the fans of my second favorite Big 12 team, and maybe get the game discussion fired up early this week.
About my Red Raiders!
Us Texas Tech fans are excited about the return of the prodigal son, Kliff Kingsbury, and he has shown us some good things in his first year as a young head coach. After Tommy Tuberville basically sucked the life out of the program and ruined our notorious homefield advantage (with some help from the Cyclones, I might add), fan enthusiasm is back and better than ever.
After Michael Brewer, our heir apparent at QB, suffered a back injury in the offseason that required surgery, we were forced to turn to our two true freshmen QBs at the beginning of the season. Baker Mayfield has started the first five games of our season and done an admiral job. He has made some freshman mistakes along the way, but he has big-time talent and could be a great player in years to come. Our other true freshman QB, Davis Webb, has shown some real talent too.
The severity of Mayfield's injury, sustained in the 3rd quarter versus Kansas, is unknown at this point. The assumption in the Red Raider camp is that the coaching staff wants to finally start Brewer this week vs. the Cyclones, or at least work him in. He received some snaps vs. Kansas (designed runs only) that were purely designed to get him hit a few times and see how he responded. He took some solid hits without any noticeable discomfort, so I believe they are optimistic about his chances. An experienced quarterback could do wonders for our team at this critical juncture.
We have a bit of a 3+ headed monster at running back this season. Kenny Williams is our starter (5'10" 225 guy with a bit of power). DeAndre Washington (smaller guy at 5'9" 190, he's more of a scat-back/pass catcher type), and SaDale Foster (about Washington's size, a little thicker, he's probably the fastest of the three and doubles as an inside receiver).
Our running game is a bit dubious this season due to a lot of youth and inexperience on our offensive line, but it's been getting better, and our backs are very talented.
We have a wealth of talent at wide receiver, young and experienced. Our top four consists of Eric Ward (6'0" 205), Jace Amaro (6'5" 260), Jakeem Grant (5'7" 165), and Bradley Marquez (5'11" 200). Ward is our senior workhorse. Amaro is our leading receiver, and a legitimate NFL first-round talent at tight end, and has been money for us, especially on third down. Grant is one of the fastest players in the conference, although he's not very big. The coaches do their best to get him in space as much as they can. Marquez is strong, athletic, and consistent, and has the most TD receptions of any receiver on the year.
We have a plethora of capable backups here. Most definitely our deepest roster position.
The offensive line has been solid to downright ugly at times this season. We have one legitimate NFL-caliber offensive lineman in Le'Raven Clark (6'5" 300), but the rest is mostly young and inexperienced. Not only that, but Tuberville left us very dry at this position and we don't even really have a functional two-deep across the board. They have been improving every game, but this is definitely the weakness of our team. TCU exploited it pretty well, although we were able to move the ball just well enough.
Defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt likes to run multiple fronts, so you see a good mix of 3-4 and 4-3 alignments when you face Texas Tech. Defensive line is one of the major strengths of our team, headlined by seniors Kerry Hyder (6'2" 285), Dartwan Bush (6'2" 265), and Dennell Wesley (6'1" 285). They rotate and mix in a lot with junior Jackson Richards (6'4" 250), and sophomore Branden Jackson (6'4" 255). All our our linemen are very versatile and play every position on the line and play it very well.
The linebacking corps is also a major strength of our team. Seniors Will Smith (6'3" 225) and Terrence Bullitt (6'3" 220) have been stone-cold killers so far this season, and sophomore Pete Robertson (6'3" 220) is one of the best pash rushers/spies in the conference. We have a solid rotation of backups as well with sophomore Micah Awe (6'0" 210), sophomore Blake Dees (6'1" 215), and Branden Jackson also spends a lot of time at linebacker as well as defensive end.
Secondary was a bit of a question mark going into this season, but they have proven to be very solid so far. The leader back there is senior safety Tre Porter (6'0" 205), who is a great talent and would probably start for any team in the conference. Back there with him is sophomore J.J. Gaines (5'10" 185). Gaines has proven to be very opportunistic and has a nose for the football. He needs to grow a little bit more, but his future looks bright.
Our corners are probably the weakest part of our defense, although senior Bruce Jones (5'8" 180) has played really well so far this season. The JUCO scouting report on him has proven to be accurate. Opposite him is a bit of a revolving door between senior Olaoluwa Falemi (5'9" 170) and sophomore Jeremy Reynolds (5'9" 180) and a few backup safeties like junior Austin Stewart (6'0" 205).
Our secondary is not very big but they are very well coached and play bigger than they are. They will give up some plays due to the aggressiveness of our defense, but it's hard to complain about their effort so far.
I've adopted a "no worries" approach to this season, as we certainly have our fair share of adversity to work through, and Kliff Kingsbury needs some time to repair the glaring holes Tuberville & Co. left on our team. Not that it was all bad, he certainly recruited some very good defensive players for us.
That being said, even though our schedule hasn't been so tough, I've still been pretty happy with the way our team has played so far this season.
How 'bout them Cyclones?
As I stated earlier, Iowa State is my second favorite Big 12 team. I'm not just saying that to be accomodating, it is most certainly true. The family I grew up next door to were big-time Cyclone fans and I grew up watching as many Iowa State games as I did Tech, Texas, or A&M games. I'm a huge fan of Paul Rhoads (I must have watched his post-game rant about the officials after the Texas game 10 times).
The season hasn't been kind to you guys, that Texas game was a travesty, and you guys won the game in my book. Here's hoping you can turn it around (but not against my Red Raiders)!