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Does Texas Tech Need a True Tight End With this New Offense?

I give my opinion on whether or not I think Texas Tech needs a true tight end with Neal Brown’s offense and what kind of tight end I think Tech needs.Let me give you the short answer. Yes.

The tight end is the most versatile position on the field. You have to be big and strong enough to block linemen and blitzing linebackers, but at the same time you have to be quick enough to gain some distance between you and the cover man to make yourself available for the pass. You want a 6′ 5″ 230 lbs. man who can run a 4.5 second 40 yard dash and bench 225 lbs. 30 times. Basically, you want the most well rounded athlete possible. Oh yeah, you also want him to be able to catch and be clutch. In modern day football, you want this…

Jeff Gross, Getty Images
Jeff Gross, Getty Images

 

Or for you old school guys….

 

 

George Rose, Getty Images
George Rose, Getty Images

How does Tech stack up?

Well, during the Mike Leach era tight ends were virtually nonexistent and if someone did line up in that position it was not to play as a tight end. Leach didn’t need a tight end. His offense consisted of throwing the ball all over the field, but particularly within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage in a cross route. This route could be great for tight ends but Leach chose to use his Wes Welker’s, Danny Amendola’s and Eric Morris’ for these routes – small little receivers who could slip between defenders and turn up the field on a dime. It was about finesse and placement.

However, with Neal Brown we see a new, more balanced, offense that requires more conventional positions. With no need or desire for a running game, the position of tight end was not necessary for Leach, but Brown and head coach Tommy Tuberville have made it clear that is an aspect of the game they want to become competitive. With the rapid decline in the use of full backs, tight ends have become a crucial piece to a good running game. If you want to run the ball well, you need the versatility of a good blocking tight end to set up the sweeps, tosses, options and counters. You need that tight end to seal off the end so the man can run it outside. With the great stable of running backs Tech has, and their great speed, they need a tight end who can close off the end and give the running back the chance to turn the corner.

You need a tight end who can do more than block, though. You need your tight end to be a legitimate threat to catch the ball. Having that versatility and extra threat on your offense opens up a whole new world of play-calling and it makes life a lot easier on your quarterback.You want your tight end to be big enough that safeties and conrnerbacks can’t cover him and you want him to have enough speed to outrun linebackers. You want an all-around threat that is good at everything on the field.

If you’ve watched any Mizzou games over the these last few years, you’ve seen some of the best tight ends in modern day college football. All-Americans Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman have proven how useful a great tight end can be and how difficult they can be to defend. Both were crucial to the recent success of Mizzou and their resurgence into national prominence. Both Rucker and Coffman were great versatile tight ends who can stand in and block when needed, and throw a safety out of the way to make a play making catch.

Tech needs a blocking tight end first. Someone who can help the offensive line as they struggle to make the transition to run blocking and a three-point stance. Tech still has good receivers that can fill in and spread the field for them, but the immediate need is with run help. These lineman have spent all but last year dropping back and pass blocking and the sooner Tech can add another body up there to stop the rush, the better. Long-term, Tech needs a possession tight end.  A guy who can stay in and block (or just get in the way of the defense) when necessary, but able to go 8 yards down the field and make a clutch reception on a 3rd and long and extend a drive.

Do I think Adam James can do this for Tech?

He hasn’t done anything in his career to prove to me he can, so I say, “No.” However, I have high hopes for incoming freshman Jace Amaro from Macarthur High School to fill this roll, nicely.

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