A Texas Tech spokesman confirmed on Wednesday that offensive guard Beau Carpenter was kicked off the team for an unspecified rules violation. Not good, considering Carpenter would have been a senior next season and has 17 career starts.
Carpenter was one of only seven Tech offensive linemen who saw significant playing time in 2012 as line coach Lee Hays didn’t seem to trust his depth. Most games, he went with five or six linemen.
So banishing Carpenter tests that depth even more.
On the flip side, though, the Red Raiders will have at least five legitimate options for the guard spots next year — and, for purposes of this discussion, I’m not even factoring in anyone from the 2014 signing class.
There’s a returning starter in Alfredo Morales, promising sophomore Baylen Brown and senior part-time starter James Polk. Brown started down the stretch against Baylor, Texas and Arizona State and really shined in the Baylor and ASU games. Maybe he can be a three-year starter.
Polk made seven starts in 2012. And late in the regular season, when Carpenter missed three games with a concussion and backup tackle Matt Wilson was done for the season with a broken foot, Polk was the sixth man, backing up every offensive line position except center.
Then don’t forget Josh Outlaw and Cody Hayes, a pair of well thought of 2013 signees who redshirted in the fall. Hays gave Outlaw a brief look at tackle in August workouts, but then switched him to guard and kept him there the rest of the fall. Outlaw made the travel squad for several games to be an emergency option at guard, Hays told me not long ago.
Recently, Lee Hays called Cody Hayes “a natural guard.”
“He’s got great feet — great feet, and he’s aggressive,” Hays said. “He’s got a little streak in him that I like. It’s just who fast he picks up everything.”
Yet another candidate might be Trey Keenan, who’s been tried some at guard and some at tackle early on. He’ll be a sophomore next season and was a high-profile recruit in 2011.
So as much as the Carpenter dismissal looks forboding on paper, the Red Raiders have plenty of players from whom they should be able to develop two competent guards.
They might actually have bigger depth issues at the other spots. Center Jared Kaster had shoulder surgery on Jan. 10, and Hays worries about getting caught short at that spot.
The Tech line coach wants at least three capable options at center. He’s told me he’ll make time in practice to have Alfredo Morales, Tony Morales, Brown and Joey White take their turns snapping. White is a walk-on transfer from Sam Houston State who redshirted.
At tackle, Le’Raven Clark goes into his junior year as returning first-team All-Big 12, but other than Clark, it’s thin.
Can Wilson step up and push for a starting job in his junior year? Does Keenan land at one of these spots? Might Polk slide out there, given that he was spending his practice time at tackle near the end of the regular season? Will redshirt freshman Poet Thomas be ready?
That’ll give Hays plenty to consider as the calendar moves toward spring football.