As a rollover from the Rob Breaux Show, I felt today’s Power Ranking Wednesday needed a more thorough approach.
On the show, we power-ranked both sides of the ball, but today we’ll focus our Staking the Plains efforts on the offensive side of the ball. Now, there are two ways to look at power rankings. The first would be to rank the position groups in terms of importance to the team. In my opinion, those would be similar or the same on any team depending on the style of play. Offensive Line, Quarterback, and then either Running Back or Wide Receiver based on run vs pass splits.
To me, the OL and QB are pretty non-negotiable in today’s game as the top two positions of importance.
The more fun, or engaging, way to power rank would be the second of the two ways: by talent.
The thought process here is that the offense can change based on talent level at certain positions, in good ways and not-so-good ways. In the previous five years, especially in the Yost era of offense, I thought the offense changed negatively because of the talent on the OL. In other years, the offense changed due to the talent at QB.
In 2023, not to get too far ahead of myself, offensive coordinator Zach Kittley might finally get to employ exactly the kind of offense he wants to because of the talent at each position.
Let’s get to power ranking:
This wide receiver room is one of the deepest in the conference. Front-line talent like Jerand Bradley is supplemented by average or above talent like Loic Fouonji, Xavier White, Myles Price, Nehemiah Martinez, Drae McCray, and youngsters like Coy Eakin and Tyler King. That doesn’t even get into the true freshmen who could potentially make an impact. Because of the depth, Joey McGuire mentioned potentially red-shirting Brady Boyd this offseason, which wouldn’t be on the table without insane depth.
Because of the depth, and Jerand Bradley who I think is the best player on offense, I’ll rank the WR first.
Every offense is only as good as its offensive line, but the QB position is so vital in college football today. Arguably the most important when you talk about an offense like Kittley’s where the QB is a second coordinator on the field checking plays at the line of scrimmage. I think you have two viable Big 12 starters, which in other positions would be like having 10 viable starters.
I haven’t always been Tyler Shough’s biggest supporter, but his finish to 2022 has me sold. I’m all in on a final year of Shough, though history tells me that Behren Morton will also start some games for the Red Raiders this year. That’s not even a shot to Shough, Texas Tech hasn’t had a 12-game regular season starter since 2016. In 2017, Nic Shimonec was benched in week 13, but started his 12th game in the Birmingham Bowl.
In fact, you’ve had three different starters at QB more often at Texas Tech since 2016 than you’ve had a single starter.
The depth and talent push up the QBs to number 2 on the list.
Tahj Brooks is a grown man, but losing Sarodorick Thompson is a blow. Brooks will tote the rock more than anyone else with a true thunder-and-lightning combo coming with Cam’Ron Valdez. The potential is through the roof, but it’s not as proven as the wide receivers or quarterbacks.
With the depth of Bryson Donnell and freshman Anquan Willis getting some shine in Spring Football, I’ll slot this group third.
This offensive line is potentially the best that Texas Tech has seen in nearly a decade, but that isn’t crossing any high bars.
The tackles will be the same as last year, only swapped. Caleb Rogers will start at Right Tackle while Monroe Mills will flip to Left. I love the change. Inside will feature a Western Kentucky duo in Left Guard Cole Spencer and Center Rusty Staats. Right Guard will be manned by former Center Dennis Wilburn.
It’s certainly an experienced group, if not all at the Power 5 level with Staats and Spencer. Rogers has played a ton of Big 12 football and Mills and Wilburn had a bunch of playing time in 2022.
The depth here is a concern, but it’s twice as good as it was last season. Ty Buchanan, Landon Peterson, Jacoby Jackson and more are all ready when called upon.
Just because the TE group lands 5th, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad group. They are like the Marines, few but proud. Baylor Cupp has the potential to be an all-Big 12 type player, and Mason Tharp is a quality TE, but that’s pretty much the room. I don’t want to discount Henry Teeter, but he’s a blocking specialist and not much of a threat in the passing game.
Extra Points to Baylor Cupp for his magnificent mullet.
Next Wednesday we’ll cover the defense and power rank the DL, Edge Rushers, Linebackers and Secondary.