March 20, 2007

Seven storylines heading into spring practice

The 2007 Red Raider football season will be one of change. Not only will Texas Tech replace seven starters on offense, six on defense and the team's punter, they will also break in two new offensive coaches.

Change creates opportunity for improvement. It also introduces the possibility of turmoil and decline. Which way the changes swing will be the focal point of the upcoming spring workouts. And that said, below are some of the specific storylines of note, which all Tech observers should look for in March and April.

Lincoln Riley's Handling of Outside Receivers: Few people doubt Coach Lincoln Riley's smarts, and most would allow that he is probably a talented coach and a potential rising star. Nevertheless, it is also true that he is little older than the players he will lead and that Riley is as green as a redshirt freshman. It will certainly be interesting to see how he handles some of the more combustible personalities in the outside receiving corps, and, in turn, how those players respond to Riley's leadership and instruction. This could be a boom-or-bust situation.

Who Emerges to Back up Graham Harrell? Last spring the big battle was over who would be Texas Tech's starting quarterback. Would it be Harrell or Chris Todd? That skirmish has concluded definitively, and now sabers will clash over the honor of backing up Harrell. SMU transfer Ryan Rowland is the veteran and has the early edge based upon his experience. Redshirt freshman Taylor Potts, however, is extremely talented and has the potential to develop into a great one on down the line. How quickly Potts comes on will likely determine who is the second-string signal caller for the 2007 season opener.

Jack Bicknell Takes Control of the Offensive Line: Unlike Lincoln Riley, Tech's other new offensive coach, Jack Bicknell comes in with few doubters or question marks. He is a veteran coach with an impressive playing and coaching pedigree that includes being a head coach at the division one level. As they say, he's got some skins on the wall, and because of that, should command instantaneous respect from his charges.

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