QB Graham Harrell

2007 Statistics

Coach: Mike Leach
65-37, 8 years
2007 Record: 9-4
at SMU WON 49-9
UTEP WON 45-31
at Rice WON 59-24
at Oklahoma State LOST 45-49
at Missouri LOST 10-41
at Baylor WON 38-7
at Texas LOST 43-59
Virginia WON 31-28

2007 Final Rankings
AP-22, Coaches-23, BCS-UR

2008 Outlook

Playing in possibly the toughest division in college football, ninth-year coach Mike Leach has his work cut out annually. Sure, he has taken his eight Red Raider squads to eight bowl games (5-3), but only one was a January date (2006 Cotton Bowl loss to Alabama 13-10), a fact that reflects the second-tier status Tech has endured in not just the college football world but in their state. People are definitely afraid of their powerful passing game, and the Red Raider’s defense plays well enough to keep their team in most close games. It just never seems to be enough to liberate TT, to give them that one special year that they emerge and take the conference crown…something that has eluded them since they won the Southwest Conference in 1994 only due to No.8 Texas A&M being ineligible for the crown, despite the Aggie’s unbeaten conference record. Tech hasn’t had a losing campaign since 1992, but, at the same time, they have only lost as few as three games once under Leach. When will their number finally come up?

This is as good a year as any to see Tech take that next step into the top 10. The offense has its senior leader and sophomore phenom to lead the way – Harrell and Crabtree’s teaming up for 22 passing TDs set the NCAA record. Harrell’s 5,705 passing yards last year is second all-time for a single season effort at the I-A level, and Crabtree’s numbers were good for all-time freshman records across the board. The entire line returns to round out 10 returning starters on offense. The defense returns eight starters, but what may signal a new era is Ruffin McNeill’s promotion permanently to defensive coordinator. This player favorite, also the line coach, has a real “down home” feel to his approach and should be able to bring together the individual talent that has its flashes, but never quite gels at the most needed times. In sequence, if the offense could slow down a bit and increase their time-of-possession, the defense could rest a bit more…but why slow down the best passing offense in the game? Sure, the running game could improve to the point of shaving those extra, marginal seconds off here and there to balance the TOP stats out, thus keeping foes off of the field for that crucial ONE extra drive that beats TT (like in the game versus OSU). Against better teams, predictability within their offense (to pass so much) kills Leach’s guys. But this is the Air Raid approach, so either the running game steps up on its own, or it will remain a low-impact dimension. Only 16 three-and-outs all year tell you why this team will stick with what got it this far.

What gives Tech its biggest advantage is how well it did being so young last year. This was the nation’s second youngest program in ‘07 – 63.3% (76 out of 120) of its roster were underclassmen, and the production from the new blood was a majority of what was seen. A year older and a year wiser, expectations will mount as September nears.

Always on the verge, this is the kind of team profile that drips of a potential breakout year. The early wins against spry throwing teams Nevada and Tulsa cannot over-inflate any egos, for the conference slate is – as always – a bear that will need every ounce of focus if they are to emerge with a winning league record.

Consistency seems to be the key, especially on defense. Tech was 6-1 last year going out, and then they lost three of the next four, only to turn around and beat eventual conference winner Oklahoma (which knocked the Sooners out of the national title game). Just imagine if they could find the same high level of team play each week, like they did against the OU. This Red Raider squad cannot waste what will likely be another record setting year on offense without knowing it will probably take two years to get close to this level again. Jones AT&T Stadium may be situated at 3,221 feet above sea level, but you can bet they will be flying even higher with the Air Raid offense elevating everything.

Projected 2008 record: 9-3
WR Michael Crabtree
QB - 5 DL - 3
RB - 3.5 LB - 3
WR - 4.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 4 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Graham Harrell, 468-644-14, 5298 yds., 45 TD

Rushing: Shannon Woods, 84 att., 439 yds., 8 TD

Receiving: Michael Crabtree, 125 att., 1861 yds., 21 TD

Scoring: Michael Crabtree, 21 TD, 126 pts.

Punting: Jonathan LaCour, 26 punts, 42.6 avg.

Kicking: None

Tackles: Darcel McBath, 72 tot., 47 pts.

Sacks: Brandon Williams, 5 sacks

Interceptions: Jamar Wall, 5 for 9 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Edward Britton, 15 ret., 25.4 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Eric Morris, 20 ret., 9.6 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Danny Amendola-WR, Grant Walker-WR, Alex Trlica-K
DEFENSE: Kellen Tillman-SLB, Paul Williams-MLB, Chris Parker-CB, Joe Garcia-SS

That siren you hear is the constant warning signal coming out of Lubbock – Texas Tech’s “Air Raid” offense is already ready to be the top offense in the nation. The past seven seasons rank as the top seven in school history for total offense, a testimonial to consistency and the coaching that provides it. Already throwing it the most of any programs in the FBS (TT had 100 more pass attempts than second-place Hawai’i), ninth-year head coach Mike Leach has all of the needed offensive components to keep the rock flying 75% of the time.

All good and true, Sammy Baugh Trophy-winner Graham Harrell is fine having such stoutness facilitate his passing attempts. This senior is poised to break quite a few school career and/or single-season marks, records that Kliff Kingsbury and B.J. Symons set and seemingly put out of reach. But this is Mike Leach getting an experienced arm and excellent game manager and setting him loose in his offense. Harrell is the right guy to take this team to many next levels – he passed for 400 yards in every game but one (his 397 in the Mizzu game counts as 400 to us), a testament to his arm strength to hold up, even after 60 attempts (had 60 or more in six games last year). Most impressive, though, is his 72.7 completion percentage – Dante Culpeppers’ all-time single-season record of 73.6% was done with only 402 attempts, whereas Harrell had 644! The offense would take a small step back if backup Taylor Potts was forced into the mix, but not for long as his abilities are also enough to keep TT rolling.

Which brings us back to the RB situation. Senior Shannon Woods is the incumbent, but the McKinney-product was replaced by Aaron Crawford halfway through 2008, seemingly since Crawford has better hands. A third option is Koby Lewis, a scat-back who is also strong when employed on the outside. Harrison Jeffers – this year’s 11th-ranked RB prospect – is sure to get some rushing attempts to see if his 4.4 second time (in the 40 yard dash) can translate to instant TT production. Baron Batch should finally be able to overcome his Achilles situation, so there are enough options coming out of their single-back sets to bolster the ground production and therefore keep opposing LBs honest. More rushing yards would also allow for an increase to their time-of-possession, enough to give the defense that extra rest needed…or just ignore this advice and keep rolling by throwing it every down.

Production will continue as long as the Tech QBs are throwing to super sophomore Michael Crabtree, the top receiver in the nation as just a RS frosh. That was good enough to secure the Biletnikoff Award for this Dallas-native and bring the promise of open targets for Harrell. Crabtree is an excellent route runner and rather strong in pulling down those not-so-great throws, and when he finally forces foes to double-team him, other Red Raider receivers will benefit. Ed Britton and/or slot receiver Eric Morris will be the next “century men” here…and bank on Crabtree also getting another 100+. The 2007 recruiting class offers many new options for Harrell, but none with much experience. They’ll get broken-in real quick with the four- and five-receiver sets employed so often.

The passing offense may be great, but the running game needs to gain momentum if Tech is to ever rise to the top of its super-tough division. There in lies the dilemma with this offense – up front, they are built well for pass protection but terribly for speed. Allowing only 15 sacks in almost 700 drop-back situations comments on how strong the OL is; gaining a grand total of 941 (gross) yards on the ground at a 3.3 (net) ypc clip speaks volumes as to why this was the worst running team in the nation. As many know, if you are going to throw it most of the time, when you do run it, you have to be efficient. Reed and Winn handle their outside assignments well, but Carter and Vasquez don’t seem to have the mobility for pulling and legitimate downfield blocking. These two guards do a great job protecting QB Harrell, and Stephen Hamby can offer up one inside option with quicker wheels, but that still leaves Tech incapable of running at will. When they put Hamby in, it is obvious the Red Raiders are leaning toward handing it off or developing the play laterally (roll-out). Yes, the passing game is strong enough to overcome this marginal aspect against most, but when annual opponents Texas, Oklahoma and A&M are good enough to decipher such signals that telegraph the play-call, you can see why TT is always the brides-maid and never the division representative at the conference championship.


OG Louis Vasquez


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Graham Harrell-Sr (6-3, 203) Taylor Potts-So (6-5, 221)
RB Shannon Woods-Sr (5-11, 191) Aaron Crawford-So (5-11, 202)
Kobey Lewis-Jr (5-5, 173)
Baron Batch-So (5-11, 209)
WR Eric Morris-Sr (5-8, 174) Adam James-Fr (6-3, 211)
Ryan Hale-Jr (6-1, 222)
WR Michael Crabtree-So (6-3, 208) Todd Walker-Jr (6-1, 184)
WR Edward Britton-Jr (5-10, 177) Lyle Leong-So (6-1, 165)
WR Detron Lewis-So (6-0, 198) Tramain Swindall-Fr (6-3, 176)
OT Rylan Reed-Sr (6-7, 314) Mickey Okafor-Fr (6-7, 320)
OG Louis Vasquez-Sr (6-6, 335) Chris Olson-So (6-5, 303)
C Shawn Byrnes-Jr (6-4, 303) Stephen Hamby-Jr (6-3, 287)
OG Brandon Carter-Jr (6-7, 375) Lonnie Edwards-Fr (6-5, 313)
OT Marlon Winn-Jr (6-6, 329) Jake Johnson-Sr (6-7, 369)
K Donnie Carona-Fr (6-0, 210) Cory Fowler-Sr (5-8, 157)



Even with marginal improvements to its national rankings, the Red Raider defense actually regressed. Until they prove otherwise, the D will continue to reflect inconsistent results and therefore will be complicit in again keeping Tech from achieving the top 10 ranking they so covet. The run stopping isn’t bad, but it still won’t be quite enough to halt the league’s better ground teams (Texas, OU, KU and Mizzu).

Brandon Williams seems to be the most consistent of the DLmen – he is properly sized for both pass rushing and lane-clogging. Senior Jake Ratliff may be 6’7, but he really had a drop-off in his production from ’06 to ’07. Daniel Howard proved invaluable - the JUCO-transfer holds his end tight as he uses his athleticism to also apply pressure. We expect Howard gets the start if Ratliff cannot fulfill his starting duties. Inside, Tech has a sub-300 approach to their tackles. The level(s) at which Henley, Jones and Whitlock performed as underclassmen was least of all admirable, moreover promising for soon-to-be-seen improvements. Henley and Whitlock finished seventh and eighth (respectively) on the team for total tackles, so inside run stopping will improve as these guys really grow into their roles. This front four should be good to finish amongst the top third in run stopping.

Two of the linebackers are well-sized – Victor Hunter was a standout as just a reserve in the middle, and Brian Duncan wasn’t anywhere near the two-deep prior to September, yet finished fifth on the team in tackles as he started the last eight games at SAM. Marlon Williams handles the weak side and can match up with opposing receivers effectively. There is a decent second string, but beyond that, Tech is undeveloped due to no LB prospects arriving in the last two signing classes. Injuries here would affect the won-loss columns.

When most of your major opponents can run for 200+ (like they did in ’07), the result is Tech’s decent ranking for pass defense. But this is one of those cases where their efficiency ranking didn’t reflect the same quality (12th in pass defense but 40th in efficiency). Not a marginal group, this secondary practices against the Air Raid specialists and has the talent to be stellar. Jamar Wall is the closest thing this team has to a shutdown corner. Also a triple-jumper, Wall plays a gutsy style that makes opposing QBs throw strikes, or else. Marcus Bunton will step into the other starting role after lots of reps as a nickel, and ex-RB Pete Richardson will get to show the prowess that had him such a special teams maven. Jarell Routt can hopefully (finally) make the grade and arrive in time to supply some needed experience (JUCO transfer). The safeties will be led by Darcel McBath, and fellow senior Anthony Hines has the size to be a head hunter at the free position. Dan Charbonnet (the oldest of the Charbonnet DBs) will again see lots of face-time – the Duke-transfer had more tackles than now-starter Hines, so he can be relied upon. Carlos Mainord is on his fourth tour of duty in Lubbock, and the safeties coach will hone his men into another savvy group that will allow just as few (passing) TDs as they did last year (19).

DC Ruffin McNeill has a solid group; now, he just has to work at his team allowing a 42% conversion rate on third-downs. They need to end those critical drives in those closer games (arguably, this factor was why the Red Raiders lost the Oklahoma State and Colorado games and what won it for them versus Oklahoma). Follow the defensive rankings around mid-season, for they are the barometer for how far Tech can go as a team in their division, and therefore overall.


CB Jamar Wall


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Jake Ratliff-Sr (6-7, 247) Daniel Howard-Jr (6-3, 238)
NT Colby Whitlock-So (6-2, 281) Bobbie Agoucha-Fr (6-4, 328)
DT Rajon Henley-Jr (6-3, 265) Richard Jones-Jr (6-1, 277)
DE Brandon Williams-Jr (6-5, 253) Brandon Sharpe-Sr (6-3, 243)
SLB Bront Bird-So (6-3, 222) Tyrone Sonier-Fr (6-2, 215)
MLB Brian Duncan-So (6-1, 239) Victor Hunter-Jr (5-11, 256)
WLB Marlon Williams-Jr (6-0, 211) Blake Collier-Jr (6-2, 212)
CB Jamar Wall-Jr (5-10, 195) LaRon Moore-So (5-9, 186)
CB Marcus Bunton-Sr (5-8, 196) Pete Richardson-Jr (5-11, 196)
DeShon Sanders-Jr (6-1, 188)
SS Anthony Hines-Sr (6-1, 212) Lance Fuller-Sr (6-2, 222)
L.A. Reed-Sr (6-2, 201)
FS Darcel McBath-Sr (6-1, 196) Daniel Charbonnet-Sr (5-11, 195)
P Jonathan LaCour-So (6-2, 206) ..




Sophomore punter Jonathan LaCour has nice control over his leg and its strength, but on this team, his efforts were needed only 26 times (almost as many field goal tries – 20). This Kingwood product also has the fifth longest field goal in state high school history (54 yards), so we feel he has the inside track over Brad Nadmer and incoming frosh Donnie Carona in that race. L.A. Reed and Ed Britton will share the kick return duties, and look for someone to join Eric Morris to form a tandem at PR, too.