Texas Tech football: Position groups that have something to prove in 2023

Texas Tech football: Position groups that have something to prove in 2023
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Texas Tech’s head football coach Joey McGuire stands during football practice, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023, at the Sports Performance Center.

The Texas Tech football team continues its preparation for the September 2nd season opener at Wyoming and on Thursday, head coach Joey McGuire met with the media to provide another update on where his team is in its preparation for the season.

“We had a really good practice yesterday,” McGuire said, “very physical.”

He then shared that the focus of this week has been on situational football, specific situations that a team might encounter in a game such as a two-minute drill, red zone offense, executing plays coming out from near the goal line, etc.  That will also be the focus of this Saturday’s second scrimmage, McGuire shared.

With just over two weeks until the trip to Wyoming, the plan is also to ramp up the physicality of camp.

“We practice very physical,” McGuire said, “you have to…We are trying to be really smart.  We’ve got a quick whistle.  I’ve got the whistle so we’re quick.  We have days where we’re a tag day, a thud day, and then, you know, we’ll be live in the scrimmage.”

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The second intrasquad scrimmage is always a key moment in fall camp as it is one of the last opportunities for players to make an impression in a game-like situation.  Players who are jockeying for playing time and those trying to secure their spot in the two-deep will need to make their case on Saturday as McGuire has said that next week his team will begin preparation for the Wyoming game in earnest meaning that the game plan will begin to be installed and the staff will need to have a solid idea as to which players will be carrying the load against the Cowboys.

Just as there are a number of players who still need to prove something in camp, there are several position groups that need to prove themselves as a whole in 2023.  So let’s take a look at four positions where the Red Raiders have a collection of players that needs to prove that they are ready to be better than just average.

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The Red Raiders used to produce dominant outside wide receivers on a yearly basis with the likes of Michael Crabtree, Joel Filani, Jarrett Hicks, and others putting up eye-popping numbers every fall.  However, Tech hasn’t had a 1,000-yard pass catcher since Antoine Wesley shocked everyone with his 1,410-yard season in 2018.   In fact, since then, no Tech wide receiver has gone over the 800-yard mark.

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If Jerand Bradley doesn’t become the next 1,000-yard club member in 2023, it won’t be for a lack of talent.  Voted a preseason all-conference honoree after putting up 744 yards and 6 TDs last year, the redshirt sophomore has all the physical gifts necessary to be one of the Big 12’s most feared weapons.

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At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, he can bully most defensive backs.  What’s more, he has deceptive, if not blazing speed allowing him to be a big-play threat as well.  Last year, he had three 100-yard games including 173 against Oklahoma.  Now, many are expecting him to become one of the conference’s premier receivers.

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Opposite him, Loic Fouonji also has the potential to be a star.  The former 4-star recruit has struggled to avoid the injury bug in his career, including last year when a shoulder injury limited his effectiveness even though he did appear in all 13 games.

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The Midland native has above-average speed allowing him to be a big-play threat and his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame makes him capable of making physical plays as well.  Thus, there’s no reason he shouldn’t easily surpass the 451 yards and 3 TDs he amassed in 2022.

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Though players such as Jordan Brown are pushing Fouonji for playing time, he has an opportunity this year to become a star if he can finally live up to the potential that everyone can see he possesses.  In fact, there’s no reason why both Red Raider outside receivers shouldn’t be electric this season.  It is time for the tradition of wide receiver dominance to return to the South Plains.

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