Friday, May 8, 2009

Don't mess with Texas Tech

Texas and Oklahoma will probably always be the big dogs in the Big 12 South, but Texas Tech has established itself a nice little niche, consistently positioned for a middle-tier bowl game and occasionally (as in 2008) nipping at the heels of a BCS bid.

The conventional wisdom says that in an offense so reliant on the passing game, a talented -- and preferably experienced -- quarterback is necessary to maintain that success, so a "rebuilding" year would seem to be in store after the loss of Graham Harrell.

But there's a question that seems worth asking in regard to Mike Leach's air-it-out attack: Does it matter who takes the snaps?

Survey says ...

2000-02: Kliff Kingsbury (averaged 65.6%, 3,792 yards, 30 TD, 12 INT, 7.66 wins)
2003: B.J. Symons (65.4%, 5,833 yards, 52 TD, 22 INT, 8 wins)
2004: Sonny Cumbie (65.6%, 4,742 yards, 32 TD, 18 INT, 8 wins)
2005: Cody Hodges (66.5%, 4,238 yards, 31 TD, 12 INT, 9 wins)
2006-08: Graham Harrell (averaged 69.9%, 5,124 yards, 44 TD, 11 INT, 9.5 wins)

... not so much. The five Red Raider quarterbacks in the Leach era, three of whom had only one season as a starter, all put up remarkably impressive and similar numbers in nearly every area, from completion percentage to touchdowns to yards to wins (Symons' season was somewhat of an anomaly because of a jump in attempts). Throwing out the idea that Leach has a cloning lab somewhere in the dusty unknown outside Lubbock, I think the logical conclusion from those numbers is that the system is damn near foolproof.

What does that mean for this season? Well, it DOESN'T mean that you should expect a tie for first in the division every year -- don't forget that a lot of things had to go right for Tech to beat Texas last year, and the departure of Michael Crabtree won't go unnoticed.

But if you had drastically lowered your expectations based on the loss of Harrell or the lack of starting inexperience for redshirt junior and heir apparent QB Taylor Potts, you should probably reconsider.

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