The Red Raiders must replace two starters from last year's team in left guard
Lonnie Edwards and center Justin Keown, although Keown only started eight games
due to injury. The unit is also entering its first under offensive line coach,
and former Abilene Christian head coach, Chris Thomsen.
Thomsen inherits a unit that is more experienced than most assume -- especially
on the front line -- but still needs time to gel as a unit. Left tackle
LaAdrian Waddle is a three-year starter, right tackle
Terry McDaniel started nine games in 2011 and center Deveric Gallington
has a number of starts under his belt but only one at center. Tech's offensive
line is further boosted by the transfer of former Texas A&M starter
Brian Thomas, who started 25 games for the Aggies before transferring this
Redshirt freshman Le'Raven Clark is the only projected starter with no
college football experience.
Texas Tech's offensive line was arguably one of the
team's biggest disappointments of 2011. The unit was thought to be a
strength of the offense heading into the season, but ended up falling
well short of those expectations. Due to a lack of much returning
experience, the Red Raiders' offensive line was a cause of some worry
during the spring, but the transfer of former Texas A&M starter Brian
Thomas seems to have alleviated a lot of those concerns.
Texas Tech's offensive line allowed a total of
seven sacks during the team's five-game skid to end the season; four of
those came in a 52-20 loss to Texas.
The Red Raiders averaged 3.84 yards per rush, which was the
third-worst mark in the Big 12 -- though that was with key injuries at
running back and center.
LaAdrian Waddle ended the season having started 25 consecutive games
dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season.
BATTLE TO WATCH
The starting left guard position will be up for
grabs when Tech opens fall camp in August. Beau Carpenter is more
experienced in the Red Raiders' system, but Texas A&M transfer Brian
Thomas has 25 starts under his belt.
Sophomore Beau Carpenter, who earned his first career start
last season against Iowa State, will battle with Thomas for the top spot at left
guard. Thomas has an obvious edge in experience, but may be a little out of
shape at this point.
Gallington's continued development at center is also a huge question heading
into camp. He filled in for an injured Justin Keown at points last season -- including
most of the Oklahoma upset --
and entered the 2011-12 offseason as the Red Raiders' starting center. He had some low snaps
early this spring, but those should
be resolved after doing a lot of one-on-one work with Doege.
The experience and talent is there for the Red Raiders' offensive line to have a
good season this fall, but it will all depend on the group's chemistry and the
leadership of Gallington. With Thomas still finishing up the semester at A&M, and Clark just getting his feet wet, the offensive line
struggled at points this spring. That was somewhat expected, but the will need
to take a big step in camp and during the team's non-conference if they want to
have success against Big 12 opponents.
"We have an offensive line that I trust will get the job done," quarterback
Seth Doege said. "The new offensive line coach, Chris Thomsen, has a lot of experience and he is working with some good players up there. I
think we're going to be fine."
somewhat of a concern this season as none of the players listed on the second
level of the team's official pre-camp depth chart saw any meaningful action last
Tony Morales and Alfredo Morales, coming off of redshirt seasons, impressed this spring. Midterm
transfer Rashad Fortenberry, who signed with Tech out of Gulf Coast
Community College in December, still needs to add weight but should be a
serviceable No. 2 this season.
NEW FACES: Thomas may be the first Texas A&M player to transfer
directly to Tech in the modern era of college football. He took advantage of an
NCAA rule that allows players to transfer and receive immediate eligibility as
long as they have obtained a bachelor's degree and enroll in a graduate school
program not offered at their original university.
Fortenberry was a nice get for the Red Raiders because he has two years of
playing experience beyond the high school level. If McDaniel or Waddle goes down
with an injury, Fortenberry should be serviceable in fill-in duty.
Tech added high school offensive tackle Trey Keenan and Rivals.com's
fifth-ranked center prospect in Jared Kaster. Both players are expected
PRESSURE IS ON: Deveric Gallington. Gallington's performance
will largely determine how well the offensive line performs as a unit, which in
turn will dictate how smoothly the offense as a whole operates. He filled in
admirably last season as a late fill-in for an injured Justin Keown, despite
having limited experience at center. Gallington's biggest issue then, and at
points this spring, was getting the football back to Seth Doege in the shotgun.
BIGGEST QUESTION: How quickly will the Red Raiders' offensive
line mesh? LaAdrian Waddle, Deveric Gallington and Terry McDaniel have all
started games for Tech, but only Waddle started all 12 games last season at his
current position. There will be a new starter at left guard, either Beau
Carpenter or Brian Thomas, and presumed starting right guard Le'Raven Clark is
fresh off of a redshirt season.
PRE-CAMP DEPTH CHART
Texas Tech's offensive line is an
interesting question mark heading into the season. Of the unit's top six
linemen, Le'Raven Clark is the only player to have not started at least
one game -- granted, Brian Thomas has never played a down as a Red
Raider. On the other hand, there isn't much experience at all on the
second level of the depth chart. That being said, Tech had quite a bit
more experience up front heading into last season and that unit was one
of the biggest disappointments on the team.