RB Taurean Henderson (PHOTO BY: Norvelle Kennedy / Texas Tech Athletics)

2004 Statistics

Coach: Mike Leach
39-25, 5 years
2004 Record: 8-4
at New Mexico LOST 24-27
TCU WON 70-35
at Kansas WON 31-30
at Oklahoma LOST 13-28
at Kansas State WON 35-25
at Texas A&M LOST 25-32
vs. California WON 45-31

2004 Final Rankings
AP-18, Coaches-17, BCS-22

2005 Outlook

Texas Tech had one of the bigger bowl wins, beating (a deflated) fourth-ranked Cal 45-31 in the Holiday Bowl. That emotion and accolade will carry over to this campaign, and rightfully so - they've earned it. But that is one small step for Tech, who has to remain focused on its next quest - to permanently join the conference's elite, and therefore the nation's elite. Since 2002, Tech has gone from 48th to 35th in Rivals.com' recruiting rankings, so kids are going to the South Plains, there's no doubt about it. But in realizing how good they can perform against a "better" team, this Tech squad can break out of the school's usual M.O. (of beating lesser foes, but also almost always losing to better ones) and begin to compete annually for the elusive Big XII crown.

So what would be a proper encore? Goals should always be kept in perspective, and this squad isn't ready to try surging ahead - overblown expectations would lead to regressive disappointments. Playing in what is arguably considered the most difficult division in college football (Big 12 South), Tech's realistic goal should be to notch a win against one of the big three on their schedule, either Oklahoma or Texas A&M, both at home, or Texas on the road. This is a team that has six wins already locked up, so 9-2 and second or third place in their conference half would be a modest goal and reflect the slow upswing that represents genuine, solid progress for a program that hasn't lost only two since 1976.

When you just want to see great scoring efficiency, watch one their many sure-to-be-broadcast games. But defense is the variable they need to tune up to make these above-mentioned steps, so watch to see if Tech's modest advancements are enough to impress and/or achieve against these juggernauts. By the end, though, you'll likely cringe when Tech's "close but no cigar" routine again makes you wonder about this bride's maid.

Projected 2005 record: 7-4
DB Vincent Meeks (PHOTO BY: Norvelle Kennedy / Texas Tech Athletics)
QB - 3.5 DL - 3
RB - 3.5 LB - 3
WR - 3 DB - 4
OL - 2.5 ..

Passing: Cody Hodges, 9-5-0, 54 yds., 2 TD

Rushing: Taurean Henderson, 162 att., 840 yds., 16 TD

Receiving: Jarrett Hicks, 76 rec., 1177 yds., 13 TD

Scoring: Taurean Henderson, 18 TD, 108 pts.

Punting: Alex Reyes, 39 punts, 42.2 avg.

Kicking: Alex Trlica, 7-13 FG, 55-55 PAT, 76 pts.

Tackles: Khalid Naziruddin, 83 tot., 53 solo

Sacks: Keyunta Dawson, 6.5 sacks

Interceptions: Vincent Meeks, 2 for 48 yds.; Dwayne Slay, 2 for 33 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Danny Amendola, 8 ret., 18.6 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Danny Amendola, 29 ret., 12.8 avg., 1 TD


OFFENSE: Sonny Cumbie-QB, Johnnie Mack-RB, Trey Haverty-WR, Joey Hawkins-WR, Nehemiah Glover-H, Clay McGuire-BH, Daniel Loper-OT, Cody Campbell-OG, Dylan Gandy-C
DEFENSE: Adell Duckett-DE, Mike Smith-WLB, Josh Rangel-SS

Head coach Mike Leach has said firmly that he will not name the starter til the first week in fall practice, but Cody Hodges should become Tech's third consecutive senior first-time starter (Cumbie in '04 and Symons in '03). "I would say it's Hodges," now-outsider (with inside info) Cumbie said. "He's done a good job waiting, as the last two of us have. He's looking pretty good right now." Hodges will be going up against a pair of pro-style RS freshmen in Graham Harrell and Phil Daugherty, who both can move well, too. "I think [Hodges] is the most experienced, obviously," Leach said. At Tech, any QB is a product of the system. Sure, you need talent, but in fact, Hodges is even more mobile than Cumbie ever was, which gives the Red Raiders yet another wrinkle. The versatile unit is stacked to the hilt, so let's see if they can give enough reps to everyone so they all stick around.

Someone said that when it comes to Tech's receivers this campaign, the depth chart could change on a weekly basis. Make that on a practice-by-practice basis. The Red Raiders lose two of their three leaders here, and Cory Fuller (baseball) could be drafted in June. Leach isn't worried though, for there's talent here, and Leach will be anxious to plug in names to the five-receiver set so he can get a pecking order and role players. 6'4" Jarrett Hicks (first team NC.net all-American) is an automatic as initial field-stretcher and go-to scorer. In the alphabet soup that Texas Tech uses to identify receivers (X, Z, H and Big H, with Y serving as a tight end), big man David Schaefer takes over the Big H spot. Others in the mix are solid possession receivers. Marquis Johnson and Anthony Jenkins are gifted young talents waiting to prove why they each received four-star ratings - speed and size together is the clue. There is little behind the two-deep guys, so an injury rash would show. No matter who's in there, Tech receivers are still going to again catch more than 400 balls, so pick a name out of their WR bin and you won't wait long til his number is soon called.

Running Back
Taurean Henderson, one of the most underrated backs in the Big 12, is also one of the most under-used. The offense "is what it is", and the mid-sized Henderson is lucky if he rushes the ball 13-14 times a game. But he makes the most of the spread formations/field, averaging more than five yards a carry while also being a terrific pair of hands. The most exciting and athletic (cleared 7' in the high jump), however, is sophomore Taurance Rawls. The strongest TB on the team, too, Rawls isn't afraid to run between the tackles and pick up the tough yards. Depth here isn't quite as promising, but does exist, which makes this single-back unit strong, with fresh legs to keep Tech's type-B dimension modest (31% of total plays are runs), yet effective (rates of 3.8 per carry, 70 running first-downs, and 23 ground TDs will continue).

Tight End
Promising five-star QB Robert Johnson, once an all-state (GA) receiver, is moving to inside (Y) slot, or tight end. He will challenge RS freshman L.A. Reed, who appears to have the inside track to start, but has size issues comparatively. Watch for role-playing, with Johnson a sure sign that they won't often run it. Unrelated Rylan Reed becomes the 6-7, 280-pounder antithesis for whenever pushing size is needed. And don't forget that one-time starter Bristol Olomua, academically ineligible for spring practice, should work his size-speed back into the mix as a proven target and a solid blocker. And don't be fooled by any two-TE sets to think it will be a run…

Offensive Line
Three of the five starters have moved on. "Sixth" starter Bryan Kegans will man the LG spot and team with LT Glenn January to keep the heat off of Hodges' blind side. Brandon Jones will step in at center, but that's iffy right now. RT E.J. Whitley could slide over to play center, forcing Jones out and popping Gabe Hall into a starting role at tackle. Manny Ramirez is back to start at RG. There are no softies here, to be sure. The smallest guy is 290 pounds and they're all quintessential Texas Tech lineman -- beefy, but with great footwork and technique in order to perform as stand-up blockers as Tech utilizes the shotgun.

With Boise going to a more balanced attack, this is now the No.1 passing offense (total, 23rd for efficiency) in the country, both in quantity and philosophy. In the great pass-to-run ratio, Tech throws the ball more than 2/3 of the time. There's no surprise here. The Red Raiders spread four and five receivers at a time and dare foes to cover them. The problem for most defenses is that Tech is so efficient at mixing up the spread offense that defensive backs don't know whether to give a cushion (and risk letting those 6- 7- and 8-yarders turn into 20 with YAC), or come up and play bump-and-run against such big, quick bodies, and then risk getting burned long. There are the tricks, or as most teams like to call them, running plays. Henderson & Co. enjoy great success lining up tight in the shotgun and then taking a delayed, inside handoff or a direct snap. Even the most disciplined defenses have trouble staying home on that play when all Tech basically does is pass. Newly named co-offensive coordinators Sonny Dykes and Dana Holgorsen will work with Hodges to minimize mistakes, and self-inflicted errors are seemingly the only way this offense will be stopped.


WR Jarrett Hicks (PHOTO BY: Cris Duncan / Cris Duncan Photography)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Cody Hodges-Jr (6-1, 211) Graham Harrell-Fr (6-2, 190)
RB Taurean Henderson-Sr (5-10, 205) Shannon Woods-Fr (5-10, 193)
HB Danny Amendola-So (5-11, 174) Eric Morris-Fr (5-8, 170)
WR Jarrett Hicks-Jr (6-4, 209) Brandon Douglas-Jr (6-0, 190)
WR Cody Fuller-Sr (6-0, 199) Joel Filani-Jr (6-3, 214)
WR L.A. Reed-Fr (6-2, 189) Bristol Olomua-Sr (6-6, 236)
OT Glenn January-Jr (6-7, 296) Daniel Christian-Sr (6-5, 306)
OG Bryan Kegans-Sr (6-5, 290) Josh Morris-So (6-3, 287)
C Brandon Jones-Jr (6-4, 290) Josh Aleman-Fr (6-3, 285)
OG Manuel Ramirez-Jr (6-4, 333) Ben Griffin-So (6-4, 303)
OT E.J. Whitley-Sr (6-6, 293) Gabe Hall-Jr (6-4, 287)
K Alex Trlica-So (5-11, 175) Keith Toogood-Jr (6-2, 195)



Defensive Line
This has been a marginal, yet steadily improving unit, and we see no reason why it won't continue that improvement. DE Seth Nitschmann was a complement to Adell Duckett for so long that people sometimes forget that Nitschmann actually had the better technique. A sure upgrade is Keyunta Dawson (4.6-sec 40 speed), who takes over at rush end with his amazing penetration (of his 26 tackles, 9 were TFLs and 6.5 were sacks). The interior linemen, Chris Hudler and Ken Scott, have underachieved, so we feel eager DT Deke Baker should start. Moreover, this unit gets a huge boost from one of the nation's most sought-after high school linemen, McKinner Dixon. Dixon operates in a Jevon Kearse-type mode - he is just as quick, strong and, well, freaky. Dixon represents the new guard here - fast, light, and swarming; the days of big and logy are gone here as ranking 77th in rush defense will cause wholesale changes like this, and it will only help.

This is the key area of concern. Strong side 'backer John Saldi is not participating in spring drills in order to let a bad back further heal. If he can't go, Sylvester Brinkley (4.6-sec 40) effectively steps in. Fletcher Session will fill the void left on the weakside, and his numbers suggest he could be even better than predecessor Smith. At MLB, Brock Stratton is a two-year starter and anchors the unit. This ex-state wrestling champ (75-0), with his (modest, but) effective nose for the ball, will display his 4.5-second 40 speed as he seemingly affects every play. Depth is thin here, so conversions from their stockpile of fleet DEs and DBs is a likelihood.

Defensive Back
Maybe one of the most underrated units in all of college football returns three of its four starters. Tech is blessed with two lock-down, hard-hitting corners in Antonio Huffman and Khalid Naziruddin. And if they wanted to move one to safety -- doubtful, but always a possibility to get the best bodies out there -- RS freshman Darcel McBath is just as good. FS Vincent Meeks is a converted-RB whose adapted well; his 10 pass breakups led this D. Chad Johnson covers deep plays well, so he will effectively keep the play in front of him. The prototypical size-speed seen here goes three-deep, so the ability for a nickel or dime package to shuffle DBs and LBs, effectively blurring the roles of each/all, will help the corps and keep this secondary from being spread to thin. This area rated 13th (for pass efficiency defense) in all of I-A, allowing only 13 aerial scores, so improving on such will happen partially through reputation as clubs will again run it until forced to throw - an eventuality that didn't really happen last year (foes successfully ran - at a rate of 4.3 yards per try - 56%). But with improvements in speed up front, this unit will be tested much more, and be ready for it.

Only three starters, one off each unit, are gone. That's a great place to start, and there will be only marginal tinkering with the 4-3. The Red Raiders are an aggressive bunch who will take chances with their front four and linebackers because the secondary is so good. Tech's pass defense was the only consistent bright spot, and the DBs helped lead the team to a respectable 46th-ranking (total defense). One might take a quick look at how the rush defense was 77th and judge 2005's bunch accordingly, but that's 20 spots up from the prior effort, a vast improvement. Third-year coordinator and LB's coach Lyle Setencich has improved Ds at all of his stops, so we look for this squad to be the charm - his own recruits and schemes finally come to fruition. Ergo, a group mentality will fly to the ball and make Tech's run-stopping even better. In its three conference losses (Longhorns, Sooners and Aggies), Tech gave up a combined 111 points. That's just not competitive enough, especially if the Raiders have aspirations of playing in more than the Holiday Bowl (though the payout was the ninth-highest of all the '04 bowls). Scoring allowed will come down as the line and corners funnel the play(s) into the middle so that the safeties and speedy LBs can deliver with big hits and/or TOs.


LB Brock Stratton (PHOTO BY: Norvelle Kennedy / Texas Tech Athletics)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Seth Nitschmann-Jr (6-4, 257) Charles Glover-Sr (6-4, 268)
NT Chris Hudler-Jr (6-3, 285) Fred Thrweatt-Sr (6-3, 330)
DT Ken Scott-Jr (6-3, 315) Dek Bake-Sr (6-6, 260)
DE Keyunta Dawson-Jr (6-2, 259) Brett Bischofberger-Sr (6-3, 283)
SLB John Saldi-Sr (6-5, 239) Sylvester Brinkley-Sr (6-3, 234)
MLB Brock Stratton-Jr (5-11, 231) Paul Williams-So (6-1, 231)
WLB Fletcher Session-Jr (6-0, 226) Chad Hill-Fr (6-1, 221)
CB Antonio Huffman-Jr (6-0, 180) Darcel McBath-Fr (6-0, 176)
CB Khalid Naziruddin-Sr (5-10, 180) Chris Parker-So (5-11, 178)
SS Vincent Meeks-Sr (6-0, 206) Joe Garcia-So (6-2, 203)
FS Dwayne Slay-Sr (6-3, 215) Greg Aycock-So (5-9, 201)
P Alex Reyes-Jr (6-1, 226) ..




Alex Trilica was shaky, going 7-of-13 with none longer than 34 yards. Former-QB Keith Toogood seems to fulfill his name as he returns after his 2003 record-setting freshman campaign (90 points). He will likely expand his KO duties and displace Trilica - his distance and accuracy are proven assets. Coverage with Toogood's KOs is a success, so realize his primary function and see if it is affected by his revisited role. If KOs suffer, Toogood will go back to just those. But foes need to pay Toogood respect, for his keen arm means fakes are a comin'.

Alex Reyes is among the best of the Big 12 with a keen 42+ average. Tech's 13th-ranked net punting unit will continue to be one of I-A's best.

Return Game
Punt return efforts were stellar with sophomore WR Dan Amendola finishing 22nd in the nation. Kickoff returns were worse, though, ranking 90th. KOs are wide open, with Johnson and Jenkins again coupled here as possible specialists. The wares are there, so they just have to be selective to get the most effective, and we will tell you who's face is in the place once we know the down-low.