The Red Raiders apparently got stung with their first major injury of the 2018 season during Saturday’s scrimmage when Octavious Morgan was hurt. It’s unclear what happened as the practice was closed to the media, but several members of the team Tweeted their hopes for a speedy recovery.
The athletics communication office said head coach Kliff Kingsbury will address Morgan’s situation on Monday. (UPDATE: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reporter Don Williams Tweeted that Morgan was on crutches at practice today.)
Brace yourselves Red Raider fans (and football fans in general), there will be injuries.
But here’s the glass-half-full perspective for Texas Tech: for once the Red Raiders are deep in a few areas that have been thin in the past. Specifically, the secondary and offensive and defensive lines.
Check it out.
Defensive backs: It seems Morgan’s availability is a question mark, and that’s a bummer since he had been praised for his work in the spring and so far in training camp. But Texas Techs still returns three defensive backs — Jah’Shawn Johnson, Vaughnte Dorsey and Damarcus Fields — who made 50 or more tackles last season. Additionally, nickel back Justus Parker made 42 stops, intercepted a team-high 4 passes and forced a team-high 4 fumbles. And add to that the fact that Douglas Coleman, Jaylon Lane and Desmon Smith all started multiple games, and redshirt freshman Adrian Frye has been one of the stars of spring ball and training camp. That makes eight DBs that should give the Tech coaches a high level of confidence.
Defensive line: Similar to the secondary (and linebackers, but we won’t get into that here), the defensive line brings back proven play-makers. Broderick Washington posted 44 tackles and 2 sacks, outstanding for an interior D-lineman, Eli Howard had a breakout year with a team-high 5.5 sacks. Lonzell Gilmore played just seven games, but showed out when he was in there with a couple of TFLs and a lot of disruptive action. Kolin Hill racked up 44 tackles, 6 TFLs an swatted down 4 passes. Tony Jones registered 4 sacks and recovered 2 fumbles (NOTE: Hill and Jones are listed at LB, but I think they’ll probably continue to play a D-line/LB hybrid role). And I think we can expect to see quality depth added by Houston Miller, Nick McCann, Joseph Wallace and grad transfer Preston Gordon. That’s a D-line rotation of nine solid players.
Offensive line: If Dawson Deaton holds on to the starting spot at left guard, as indicated by the post-spring depth chart, then the Red Raiders technically only return four offensive line starters. But that’s actually better than returning five, because it means Deaton beat out starter Madison Akamnonu. That will leave Akamnonu, who has 20 starts in his career, available as the top backup at multiple positions. Offensive line, unlike receiver or the defensive line or secondary, is a position where five guys, if healthy, can hold down the lion’s share of snap all season. So having essentially six starters there is already good depth. But Texas Tech also has promising players available in Giovanni Pancotti, Bailey Smith, Jacob Hines and Will Farrar.