Texas Tech Football: Young offensive line showing improvements

LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 4: Nic Shimonek
LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 4: Nic Shimonek /

Texas Tech Football has a Top 10-ranked offense, and while attrition has led to a young roster, it’s the offensive line that that’s helping lead the way.

Texas Tech Football has faced opponents with at least 20 upperclassmen on their two-deep rosters this season, and while the outcomes of those games haven’t been favorable, there are reasons to be optimistic for the future of the program.

A major contributing factor for position skill players to be able to execute their jobs consistently and effectively are often skills learned in the weight room. For a few seasons, Texas Tech offensive linemen were undersized and underpowered compared to Big 12 defenses, which is why the elusiveness of Patrick Mahomes was particularly helpful, as his ability to make plays often hid blocking deficiencies. But those deficiencies weren’t able to hide the Texas Tech run game, which has been virtually non-existent in recent years, and overcompensated by high powered passing numbers.

It’s easy to point fingers when Texas Tech blows games, and it’s difficult to see high points during losing sprees, but against teams with significantly higher veteran leadership, the Tech offensive line has been improving under first-year coach Brandon Jones.

Perhaps the improvements have been slow developing, but the numbers the unit is producing, combined with the youth on the line should have quarterbacks waiting in line excited about their prospects.

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As the Red Raiders had to DFW to face Baylor, the offense ranks No. 5 in the nation in passing offense, averaging 354.4 yards-per-game; No. 9 in the nation in total offense, averaging 506.9 yards-per-game; and No. 17 in scoring offense, where they’re averaging 38.2 points-per-game.

While Shimonek doesn’t have the ability to make plays on the run as Mahomes was, Shimonek did enter the program as a pro-style passer, so that shouldn’t come as a shock. Mahomes also had three years in the Texas Tech system as a starter, whereas Shimonek has only started in nine games. Confidence is drawn from experience, but it’s Shimonek’s offensive line that has allowed him to make plays, and inject some rushing offense into the game plan.

Texas Tech put up 313 rushing yards, which included four rushing touchdowns by Desmond Nisby against Kansas, which was the first time Tech was that explosive in the run game since 2012, when the Red Raiders registered 325 yards on the ground against New Mexico.

Texas Tech is 78th in the country in rushing, at 1,372 rushing yards, and 16 rushing touchdowns. This isn’t a bad statistic for a first-year offensive line coach, and a line that has seven underclassmen. Unfortunately, though, pre-snap penalties have put the offense in precarious situations this season, which has contributed to Tech’s low conversion ratings, and that must improve against Baylor, TCU, and Texas.

Next: Texas Tech Football releases 2018 season schedule

Undisciplined mistakes have cost Texas Tech Football dearly this season, but that’s the price teams pay while facing growing pains at specific positions. However, the offense has managed to rally behind the talent it has, and whether it’s Carter McLane or Jett Duffey taking snaps in 2018, one thing is certain: the offensive line won’t be the weakness, especially if the current strength and conditioning staff is able to continue the rebuild in that department.