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Five players Texas Tech is counting on in 2012

The Red Raiders need improved contribution from a handful of key players

Posted: August 27, 2012 - 5:28pm  |  Updated: August 27, 2012 - 11:37pm
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Texas Tech is looking for big gains from tight end Jace Amaro. (Zach Long)
Texas Tech is looking for big gains from tight end Jace Amaro. (Zach Long)
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The Red Raiders are counting on a handful
of players to elevate their performance this season

There weren’t many areas of the Texas Tech football team that didn’t bear at least some responsibility for last season’s 5-7 record, the program’s first losing season in two decades.

Still, improvement at some positions will be more key than others when the 2012 campaign kicks off against Northwestern State inside Jones AT&T Stadium at 6 p.m. Saturday, and that leaves a handful of players shouldering heavy expectations.

Here’s an Avalanche-Journal breakdown of five players Tech is heavily counting on this season.

Delvon Simmons, So., DT

The Red Raiders ranked dead last among Football Bowl Subdivision teams against the run last season, so there are no shortage of defensive players who need to elevate their games. Simmons, the 6-foot-5, 290-pound tackle, will be especially counted upon after showing promising glimpses as a freshman.

Coaches have lauded Simmons’ progress throughout spring ball and fall camp, crediting his greater understanding of the defense and improved hands. Now he must prove that he can be a force in the middle of the line, both as a run stopper and as a player who can occupy space and allow the ends — like fellow McKeesport, Pa., native Branden Jackson — to rush the passer without being double teamed.

Jace
Amaro, So., TE

Just how highly does Tech coach Tommy Tuberville think of Amaro?

“I think he might be one of the best players in college football,” Tuberville said at the Knights of Columbus kickoff event Saturday.

Those are lofty expectations, especially for a player who caught just seven passes (two for touchdowns) last season. But Amaro’s combination of size (6-foot-5, 257 pounds) and speed (Tuberville says he’s one of the team’s fastest players at full acceleration) suggest he could be a key target for Tech all season.

After struggling with some drops during spring practice, Amaro demonstrated better consistency with his hands in fall camp. Expect quarterback Seth Doege to put them to the test come Saturday.

Eugene Neboh, Sr., CB

The biggest key for Neboh, and fellow starting cornerback Cornelius Douglas, will be staying on the field. Last season, Tech used six different starters at corner, making continuity difficult to come by.

If the Red Raiders can receive consistent cornerback play, it could go a long way toward improving a defense that has finished 114th overall in each of the last two seasons.

Neboh also needs to make plays. Tech cornerbacks came away with zero interceptions in 2011, and that won’t cut it this season if the unit hopes to make strides.

Alfredo Morales, Fr., OG

Texas Tech’s evaluations on the four offensive linemen in its 2011 signing class apparently were sound. Le’Raven Clark, Alfredo Morales and Tony Morales are already in important roles, and Matt Wilson (out for the season) projects to be when he gains weight and muscle.

Alfredo Morales pushed to play as a true freshman last season and has consistently impressed coaches with a work ethic to go with his talent. When projected starter Beau Carpenter missed a week in the middle of preseason practice, that was the opening Morales needed to move into the starting lineup at left guard.

Carpenter has an experience edge on Morales, so the competition’s not over.

Either way, though, a Tech team with too few offensive linemen needs young prospects such as Morales to provide steady play.

Sam Eguavoen,
So., LB

Eguavoen might have been in over his head last year: an athlete with limited football experience going from a 1-9 high school team to starting in the Big 12. Raw talent goes only so far under those circumstances.

Eguavoen’s role diminished over the course of last season, but he’s been a starter this year since early spring. Defensive coordinator Art Kaufman had to determine which position suited him best, and decided midway through spring that the Red Raiders functioned better with Will Smith in the middle and Eguavoen on the outside.

Smith and Terrance Bullitt have gotten most of the attention as far as Tech linebackers go. Eguavoen needs to be just as solid, though, because depth is iffy, particularly among the outside linebackers.

Written by Don Williams and Nick Kosmider

Photos by Zach Long

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good article

These players & some of the younger talent got to step up & play well or we will miss a bowl for the second straight year.

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Hope These Kids Are All World

It's time for the program to get going and shut me up.

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@facts

I agree

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Amen....Your best post ever.

Amen....Your best post ever.

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Agreed

Its time. This game should be a gimme. As should the next two. Little more than glorified scrimmages. Like Facts, Im tired of being the skeptic on here and I hope the Hancers are tired of chasing wild eyed pipe dreams based on little more than wishing upon a star. Ready for a rabid united fan base cheering a winning team.

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Felony, Schmelony

Is Amaro still facing felony charges for the incident with another person's charge card? If so, why is he still on the team? Is Tuberville trying to establish a precedent in case he is indicted over his Ponzi scheme?

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@bernardo

their cases have been resolved

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