June 6, 2007

Big 12 breakdown: Texas Tech

Texas Tech is the only team to win at least half of its games in every season of the Big 12. In seven years, it hasn't missed the postseason under Mike Leach. For once, a non-senior returns at quarterback in Graham Harrell. But so does a heap of inexperience and mass departures leave many question marks including this one: Could the bowl streak end in 2007?

BRIEFLY: Complacency not the name to Leach's game

Known as the mastermind of the spread offense and for his blunt replies and ability to at times direct harsh criticism toward his team, Mike Leach promises to keep everyone eager for the season opener at SMU on Sept. 3.

Consider Leach returns junior Graham Harrell, whose 445-yard, two-touchdown effort in a record-breaking 44-41 overtime win against Minnesota capped a spectacular season for the program's first non-senior starter since Kliff Kingbury in 2000. Harrell's 4,555 passing yards, including 519 against Texas, established school sophomore records while his 38 touchdowns ranked third. The 6-foot-2, 196-pounder tossed just 11 interceptions.

For all of those accomplishments and despite Harrell's solid spring, Leach kept the door open on the quarterback job exiting spring workouts. A motivational ploy to benefit Harrell, no doubt, as Leach always attempts to combat the dreaded "c" word, "complacency." Harrell threw for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns in each of the last two spring scrimmages. Still, Leach, who perhaps hopes to eat up time and space discussing the quarterbacks to take the spotlight off of other personnel issues, contends redshirt freshman Taylor Potts might be that good. We'll go ahead and bite.

"Taylor Potts really emerged as we went through the spring," Leach said during a Big 12 coaches' teleconference in May. "Taylor Potts, for a guy his age as a redshirt freshman, has as impressive of a start as I've seen. It's really going to be key what Graham and Taylor both do between now and camp."

Perhaps this is precisely why Leach would rather discuss his quarterbacks: Remember these names - Joel Filani, Robert Johnson, Jarrett Hicks, Manny Ramirez, Gabe Hall and Keyunta Dawson? All of them are gone, as is the entire interior of the defensive line, two starting linebackers and punter Alex Reyes.

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