Spring football is drawing to a close throughout the Big 12, and teams have started gaining more clarity as to what their 2021 squads are going to look like. As they head into summer workouts, we’ll get into some tentative impressions of all the teams, providing a projection of offensive and defensive starters for the upcoming season (returning starters in bold) as well as some post-spring observations.
Matt Wells enters his third season as the head coach with his first two subpar campaigns behind him, and he’ll face pressure in 2021 to get the Red Raiders to a bowl game, something they haven’t qualified for since 2017. Wells was brought in to hopefully steer the program away from the losing records it’s seen for about a decade now. There’s an opportunity to begin that turnaround, and below, we offer up some takeaways and observations on the team following spring practices.
|PROJECTED 2021 STARTERS|
|LT||T.J. Storment (Sr.)||DE||Tyree Wilson (Jr.)|
|LG||Weston Wright (Jr.)||NT||Jaylon Hutchings (Jr.)|
|C||Dawson Deaton (Sr.)||DT||Tony Bradford Jr. (Jr.)|
|RG||Josh Burger (Sr.)||SLB||Riko Jeffers (Sr.)|
|RT||Ethan Carde (Jr.)||MLB||Krishon Merriweather (Sr.)|
|QB||Tyler Shough (Jr.)||WLB||Colin Schooler (Sr.)|
|RB||SaRodorick Thompson (Jr.)||SPUR||Jacob Morgenstern (Sr.)|
|TE||Travis Koontz (Sr.)||CB||Dadrion Taylor-Demerson (Sr.)|
|WR||Erik Ezukanma (Jr.)||SS||Marquis Waters (So.)|
|WR||Dalton Rigdon (Sr.)||FS||Eric Monroe (Sr.)|
|WR||Trey Cleveland (So.)||CB||DaMarcus Fields (Sr.)|
Shough’s Performance Will Be Key For This Team
The addition of transfer Tyler Shough could be huge for Texas Tech, as the team could definitely use a boost offensively after they underperformed at times in 2020. Much of next year’s success could depend upon how well Shough is able to digest Sonny Cumbie’s offense and excel within this new system. While it’s true that the Red Raiders still have questions along the offensive line and need to identify more skill players to surround their quarterback, Shough could energize the offense by living up to the potential he showed at Oregon.
That’s especially a concern given the injuries suffered by the offense’s two best returning weapons this offseason. SaRadorick Thompson underwent shoulder surgery earlier this week, and there are questions as to whether he might be available to start the season in September. All-Big 12 Wideout Erik Ezukanma was seriously injured during spring practices, and his recovery is also a bit up in the air. Going into the summer, then, there’s an increased pressure on the quarterback position to excel in Cumbie’s scheme.
Linebacker Is A Strength
It wasn’t all bad news for Texas Tech on the defensive side of the ball last year, where they held opponents to 259 yards per game, a definite improvement over the season previous. The Red Raiders were really gashed on the ground last season, though, but there are reasons to think they could be improved in 2021. They should have a lot of depth at linebacker, where four starters are returning, and that’ll likely be the best position group on this defense. With only one loss up front, in addition, the front seven for Texas Tech should get better in 2021. If they can show up with some more stops in the red zone, hopefully that development will translate into fewer points given up to opposing offenses.
Texas Tech Needs Some Stars To Emerge
There’s a surprising amount of heat on Matt Wells to really show some improvement with this team for a coach in only his third year at the helm. The frustration on the part of fans makes sense, given that Texas Tech hasn’t managed a .500 record in the regular season since 2017. The experience and incoming talent should give this team a definite advantage next season, but it feels like this team needs a jolt from somewhere in order for Wells to make 2021 the best season he’s had at Texas Tech. Whether it comes from a new offense or transfers, the Red Raiders need some All-Big 12 players to emerge next season.