Texas Tech football: Areas that Red Raiders failed to solidify in 2019

LUBBOCK, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 23: The Texas Tech Red Raiders are led onto the field by the Masked Rider before the college football game against the Kansas State Wildcats on November 23, 2019 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 23: The Texas Tech Red Raiders are led onto the field by the Masked Rider before the college football game against the Kansas State Wildcats on November 23, 2019 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
4 of 5
Next
LUBBOCK, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 16: Wide receiver Erik Ezukanma #84 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders  (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 16: Wide receiver Erik Ezukanma #84 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders  (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images) /

Tech’s receivers were as poor as in any year in the “Air Raid” era

While struggles in the secondary are nothing new for this program, having receivers that can’t consistently beat man coverage is an experience to which we are not accustomed.  But in 2019, the Red Raiders were as pedestrian as in any year since the dawn of the “Air Raid” era in 2000.

The passing offense managed to finish 7th nationally at 324.7 yards per game but there was something missing.  There just were not enough big plays because the receivers proved to lack explosiveness.

No Red Raider pass-catcher eclipsed the 100-yard mark and the most passes one caught was 45 (accomplished by R.J. Turner).  It wasn’t that the offense stopped throwing the ball.  In fact, Tech put the ball in the air 44.2 times per game.

The problem was the there just were no standout receivers.  One issue was that the only target on the roster that had any skins on the wall as a Red Raider, junior T.J. Vasher, was inconsistent all year as well as being suspended for two games in November.

His 515 yards were the fewest he’s had since his true freshman season when he played in only one game.  He went from being the assumed leader of the receiving corps to a place where his future me be in limbo after his off-field mistakes.

Turner was a grad transfer so he and his 454 yards and three touchdowns will have to be replaced.  In the slot, McLane Mannix did not look like a former freshman All-American as he was essentially passed up on the depth chart by two former walk-ons, Xavier White and Dalton Rigdon.  In all, the slot receivers managed just 876 yards and nine touchdowns, numbers that Wes Welker and Jakeem Grant would easily put up on their own.

The most encouraging development was the play of redshirt freshman Erik Ezukanma, he led the team with 664 yards and four touchdowns after a strong second half.  He had at least 70 yards in each of his last four games including a career-high 135 against Texas as well as a touchdown grab in each of his final three outings.

But at the other receiver spots, there are significant questions.  Fortunately, Tech is bringing in one of the most highly-regarded receiving classes in years and those players will have an opportunity to play huge roles immediately.   That’s because this year’s receivers did not step forward the way we expected them to, which was a significant letdown.