Texas Tech Football: Wide receivers lead Big 12 in critical category

Texas Tech football has become notorious for its offensive production, so it’s no surprise that its wide receivers sit at the top of the Big 12 in critical areas.

When Texas Tech Football faced a quarterback change in 2017 in Nic Shimonek, many anticipated for lower quarterback production. While Tech’s offensive production has taken a slight dip through four games, Shimonek’s ability to connect with his receivers was put on full display against Eastern Washington, and ASU, so we know climbing back to the top is tangible.

Tech has been trying to establish a run game this season as a way to keep opposing offenses on the field, but with limited results. Despite offensive experimentation many consider to be “exotic” in the face of the Air Raid, a few players have emerged at the top of the conference in critical categories, and this week, the focus is on receiving threats.

Texas Tech had some of the Big 12’s most dominant offensive players returning this season, including Keke Coutee, Dylan Cantrell, Justin Stockton, and more. With that said, it’s no surprise to see Cantrell and Coutee headlining the conference for highest threat when targeted.

According to Pro Football Focus’s College Football division infographics, the two top production targets in the Big 12 after four weeks are:

  1. Texas Tech WR Dylan Cantrell: 25 Targets, 20 Receptions, 296 yards, 3 TD = 155.6 rating.
  2. Texas Tech WR Keke Coutee: 39 Targets, 31 Receptions, 500 yards, 4 TD = 152.9 rating.

 

The rubric to qualify for the list is a minimum of 19 targets

When looking at film of both Coutee and Cantrell, there isn’t much either player can’t do. Despite the slight size difference, Cantrell resembles more of a Jason Witten-type, where regardless of where he is on the football field, he can usually read coverages and make heads up dominant plays. For Coutee, not only does he possess similar skills as Cantrell, his raw physicality makes him incredibly useful in space, even as a blocker.

Unfortunately, Coutee got injured against Oklahoma State by doing just that, and in the post-game press conference, head coach Kliff Kingsbury mentioned the injury was related to his leg. When asked if Coutee being sidelined shrunk the playbook, Kingsbury said, “I don’t know if it shrinks [it], but he’s a dynamic guy. There’s a lot of stuff we like to work to him over the middle of the field… Antoine [Wesley] stepped in, and he was ready to play, but that’s a special talent.”

Shimonek took ownership for miscommunication with his receivers on the field, but if Texas Tech Football can find its offensive rhythm against Kansas on Saturday and bounce back in a big way, that will be the biggest test this season how they handle adversity.