For perhaps the first time since the 2014 season, when then head coach Kliff Kingsbury was entering his second season after an 8-win rookie campaign, there is realistic excitement about the future of the Texas Tech football program this offseason. In fact, even people outside of the Red Raider biosphere expect Joey McGuire’s team to be a factor in the Big 12 race and a dark horse candidate to be the 2023 version of TCU, which raced to the national championship game of last season.
It’s easy to understand why people were so optimistic about the Red Raiders. After all, they return seven starters on defense and pretty much all of their 2022 offensive differentials, with the exception of running back SaRodorick Thompson.
What’s more, Tech will go on a four-game winning streak next fall, bringing the kind of momentum and hope to this program that’s been lacking since the Kingsbury experiment went off the rails. However, we’re still not discussing a blue-blooded program destined to fall out of bed and win 10 or more games every year like Alabama, Georgia, or Ohio State.
So there are valid questions about the list that McGuire has put together. Nowhere are these issues more significant than along the offensive line.
2022 was not an unforgettable season for Tech’s O line. In fact, it could be argued that the second most important field position group was last fall’s biggest weakness for Tech, even in a season marred by constant quarterback injuries.
For example, Tech finished 111th nationally and bottom of the Big 12, giving up 3.15 sacks per game. Also, at just 3.9 yards per rush, Tech would finish ahead of only Oklahoma State and Iowa State (two teams that featured putrid offenses) in the Big 12 rankings.
Thus, it is no wonder that one of the priorities of this offseason was the remodeling of the offensive line. In fact, in the 20+ years I’ve been emotionally invested in this program, there have been few revisions of this group of positions in a single offseason on the scale of what Tech is trying to accomplish this year.
With no starters expected to return to the same position they played last year, massive deck reshuffling will be as key to the success of the 2023 offense as any other factor, including the health and productivity of quarterbacks.
If this group manages to put up a solid 13-game effort, there’s no reason to believe that offensive coordinator Zach Kittley will be able to put up big numbers in his second season calling plays in Lubbock. But if the rebuild hits a few snags, we could see an offense as talented as any of the Big 12 derail at the line of scrimmage.
So while a lot of people are drinking Kool-Aid when it comes to tech and their offense this year, let’s take a little break and see what we should be worried about on the offensive line. And we’ll start by asking a simple but extremely important question: does just changing your position solve a big problem?
- Published on 7/2/2023 at 1:46 pm
- Last updated on 7/2/2023 at 1:46 PM