How will Texas Tech Replace Harrell and Crabtree?

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How will Texas Tech Replace Harrell and Crabtree?
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

For Texas Tech, the numbers five and six equaled many things last season.  Five and  six = 11 wins overall. Five and six = seven wins in the Big 12. Five and six = 442 completions, 5,111 yards passing with 45 touchdowns and only nine interceptions.

Five and six = 97 receptions for 1,165 yards and 19 touchdowns. Five and six = an amazing win over the University of Texas and the best record ever under head coach Mike Leach. Five and six = Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell. For Tech however, five and six also equal 2008.

The Red Raiders open their fall practices tomorrow August 8, 2009. Seventeen and 15 = 2009, and how the players wearing those numbers perform will go a long way to adding up the numbers and record for this years team.

Detron Lewis wears the No. 17.  The good news is he wore it last year as a sophomore starter. He has good size, measuring six feet tall and weighing 205 pounds. He has good speed, but excels at making people miss. His 2008 numbers included 76 receptions and 913 yards.

Pretty salty for a No. receiver. Plus when you compare them to Crabtree's they don't look that far off.

There was one area where 17 was much less than five.

Crabtree excelled at getting the ball into the end zone. He finished 2008 with 19 trips across the goal line.  Lewis had three.  This is where he really needs to step up his production.

No. 5 seemed to will himself to the ball whenever he was near the goal line. Of course Crabtrees ability there certainly took TD chances away from all of Tech's other receivers. Still a player with the talent of Lewis would be expected to catch more than three of Graham Harrell's 45 touchdown passes.

The really good news is Detron has loads of talent. The young man from College Station, Texas looked strong and confident at spring practice. He has above average hands and is experienced in Techs spread offense. Once he catches the ball his quickness makes him hard to tackle.

When you add his talent, experience and Techs always potent passing attack together, you get a receiver that is going to have a very big season. Surpassing Crabtree's numbers in catches and yards could happen.

If he comes close to the TD numbers or even meets or exceeds them, then you will be watching a Tech team that will have caused as much trouble as usual for defensive coordinators.

Graham Harrell's replacement goes by the name Taylor Potts.  Taylor is a strapping young flamethrower from west Texas. Abilene to be exact. At this position Texas Tech replaces one 4 star recruit with another. In fact Leach has said Potts is his best backup quarterback ever. Pretty strong support from a coach that knows a thing or two about quarterbacks.

Just by looking at Taylor Potts you can see why he was also recruited by Michigan. He stands 6'5" tall. He weighs around 220 pounds.  He has the big arm that NFL scouts love to see. In fact, add his size and arm strength together and you have the Red Raiders most NFL ready quarterback to date. At least according to intangibles.

But intangibles don't mean everything. Many experts will point to experience and what lies between the ears. Graham Harrell had loads of the last two, being the starter at Tech for three years.

Because Taylor will be a first year starter, most experts expect Tech to take a step back in offensive production. It makes sense, but he's not coming into this season blind.

Taylor did get some playing time over the last two seasons. He came into last seasons blowout of Oklahoma State and went 5-5 for 60 yards and a touchdown. Overall in 2008 he was 23-36 for 260 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception.

Potts looked good and bad at times during spring practice. He has been called more of a game-time performer in the past. The type of player who just doesn't feel the same rush in practice, and performs below his ability at times.  In the spring he did develop a good relationship with Detron Lewis.

Playing in Techs offense as the starting QB, he is going to put up some big numbers. I look for his yards and td's to come close to Harrell's of 2008. I don't believe he is going to put up fewer or the same amount of interceptions.  If he can keep the number around 15, then look for him to have what is considered a great season.

With his arm, he will probably look down field more than his predecessor. If his accuracy is off, this could lead to more interceptions so he'll have to keep from falling in love with throwing the ball in to tight spaces.

Leach's offense is predicated on spreading the ball around to many receivers and finding them open in space.  He has said over and over that accuracy and good decision making are the most important attributes for a quarterback leading his team.

If Taylor Potts can meet those requirements and add them to his big arm, then Tech fans will not forget the name Harrell, but will speak the name Potts alongside it in reverence.

The truth is Potts and Lewis have huge shoes to fill. Luckily there is a lot of talent attempting to step into them.

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