March 21, 2007

Five keys to a successful spring

When the Red
Raiders begin spring practice this afternoon, Tech coaches will welcome back
only eight returning starters from the 2006 team. A team that finished the season
with an 8-5 record including a record setting comeback win over Minnesota in
the Insight Bowl. As is the case with every spring practice, the primary goal
is to improve as a player and team over the course of the 15 allowable workouts.
Today's piece will focus on five areas that the coaching staff will be looking
to improve from now until April 16th.






DEVELOP SOME LEADERSHIP


This could be the single hardest thing to get done this spring because it is
hard to manufacture but it is an intangible that is desperately needed. This
team is void of numerous returning starters and lacks seniors (only 12 on scholarship)
and needs someone to step up and be the voice of the team as well as lead. Looking
to junior quarterback Graham Harrell
for that leadership is only natural based on the fact that he's the quarterback
and he started every game last year. He grew up in front of everyone last season
and while he wasn't perfect he was more than just productive. With so much youth
on this team at several key positions getting solid quarterback play is a must.
Harrell also has a bit of the "it" factor about him that could allow his play
and leadership to will this team to victory at times and give less reason for
concern at the lack of depth on the defensive line or lack of experience on
the offensive line. Harrell could trump all of that as the unquestioned leader
of this team, if he feels up to it.


If not Harrell though, then who?


REPLACE FILANI AND JOHNSON


Speaking of Harrell, he's going to need to find some new playmakers at receiver
that not only he can trust but also will replace the production lost by the
graduation of Joel Filani and Robert Johnson. If this offense
is going to keep on humming along, someone is going to have to catch the 24
touchdown passes and replace the nearly 2,200 yards receiving that the departed
duo was responsible for last season.


Obviously one name everyone will focus on is redshirt freshman Michael
Crabtree
and rightfully so. Had Crabtree not been ruled ineligible in
late August of 2006 he would have been the potential starter at X-Receiver.
Crabtree is the possession type player that Harrell covets because he trusts
him and he trusts his hands. But, most possession type wideouts aren't nearly
as quick and athletic as Crabtree. If Crabtree fails to have a solid spring
it could mean trouble for an offense void of proven playmakers.



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