We’re going to wrap up this series because I got some stuff done over the weekend. As you probably know, we’re rating the positions in terms of your comfort level ranked by this article in terms of importance. I need you to vote.
9. Middle Linebacker
Kinda set here with Brooks and Jeffers. I may be more comfortable with the starter and back-up at middle linebacker than any other position on the team. It’s thin between these two, but at the very least, these are two very good players, Brooks being all-conference.
Primary Options: Jordyn Brooks and Riko Jeffers
8. Designated Pass Rusher 2 (LDE/OLB)
I think that Hill and Jones are okay, but their biggest problem has been actually rushing the passer. Hill got more snaps, but only managed 2 sacks and 1 quarterback pressure. Jones is much more effective, even in limited time, at rushing the passer, finishing with 4 sacks and 4 quarterback pressures. As a team, Texas Tech was 109th overall in sacks and I know that it’s not just Hill and Jones, but collectively, the team must be better in that area. I’m comfortable with these two guys, they aren’t all-conference players, they’re solid, but you really need guys that splash at this position (and at the other end spot).
Primary Options: Kolin Hill and Tony Jones
7. Running Back
I think that King and Ward are very solid, but not spectacular. King was always moving the pile forward and for a team that needed someone to be consistent and that’s exactly what King was last year. I’ve been clear that I think that Ward is more talented, he’s quicker and hits the hole faster and he also seems to maybe have more break-away speed that King. I hope that the year off motivated him to the point that he’s ready to make a significant impact. I won’t count out the two freshmen because there are options there. My biggest concern is that if this team somewhat morphs into a quasi-running team, will the four running backs be enough? I’m not sure, especially with two of them freshmen.
Primary Options: Tre King, Da’Leon Ward, Tah’Zhawn Henry, Saradorick Thompson
6. Defensive Tackle
I think I had this a bit confused, but at this point, it’s too late to go go back. I think technically, at tackle will be Joe Wallace, Preston Gordon, Nelson Mbanasor, with Washington and Nick McCann at nose guard, but since we’ve already rated nose tackle without Washington, we’ll just go with Washington and McCann as a position group. The great thing here is that there are quire a few options, especially with Gordon and Mbanasor, they’ll be able to do some things from a lineup perspective that could be interesting.
Primary Options: Broderick Washington and Nick McCann
5. Wide Receiver 1
Some of you were discussing Myller Royals as a surprise player and I was hesitant to name him in that spot because I’m not sure how much opportunity he’ll get with Vasher at this spot. I was a little disappointed in what I saw from Vasher during the spring events, but those were just two events over the course of the spring where he may have done really well. Vasher has more talent in his skinny frame than anyone else on the team. I think he’s that talented, he just has to put it together on a daily basis. And I think that Royals is going to be really good, he wasn’t given enough press in high school because he’s from West Texas, but he can play.
Primary Options: T.J. Vasher, Dalton Rigdon and Myller Royals
4. Left Cornerback
I love this position group, and maybe they aren’t athletically up there with Fields and Frye, I think that a combination of Morgan and Smith is a really good rotation and they may not be all-conference players, I think they’re just a shade under receiver some consideration. I think Morgan will be better and I never expected Smith to stick at cornerback, but he’s been solid. Morgan had 8 pass break-ups last year, to Smith’s 3, but Smith had a pick.
Primary Options: Octavious Morgan and Desmon Smith
3. Left Tackle
Really comfortable with Bruffy and Akamnonu, although I really want both of them to become more physically dominant. Bruffy is very solid, but I want to see him more dominant, that usually comes with time and I think it’s time for him to be a road grader and an afterthought in terms of allowing any sacks from that left side.
Primary Options: Travis Bruffy and Madison Akamnonu
2. Designated Pass Rusher 1 (RDE/ROLB)
Howard was a revelation last year, somewhat bursting on the scene with 23.5 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, 6 quarterback hurries, 5 run stuffs and 3 pass-break-ups, while forcing 3 fumbles. That’s some pretty good success and from what we learned over the offseason, Howard will be a sophomore (again) as he gained a year of eligibility in some weird quirk. With Howard as good as he is, he really didn’t have a pass-rushing back-up. Yontz doesn’t really have the athleticism or the strength last year to push the line and I hope that’s where Gilmore comes in, who was injured all of last year and was kept on the shelf during the spring. I don’t know why, but I have much confidence in Gilmore, it’s irrational because he really hasn’t played at all, but I think he is the athletic back-up that I think this team needs.
Primary Options: Eli Howard, Quentin Yontz, and Lonzell Gilmore
Here’s the rub, the situation that we’ve been eyeing since this process started, which is that the most important position is the one that I’m most unsure about. There are people who are predicting any of the three starting so it’s a toss-up at this point. Personally, I think it will be Duffey, but I don’t have any insight. I did go back and watch the spring game for a third time and although Bowman did look good in spots, he was doing it against the third team defense many of the times. Lots can change during the course of a summer, so we’ll see how it shakes out, but for the purpose of this exercise, the only thing that gives me comfort is that Kingsbury is the best quarterbacks coach in the country, so I think he’ll be good at what he does, but the players are the X-factor.
Primary Options: Jett Duffey, McLane Carter, Alan Bowman