In the final two games of the 2020 Texas Tech football season, the following players need strong performances to solidify their roles for next season.
Depending on how you view a possible 5-5 season, there may or may not be much left for the Texas Tech football team to accomplish in 2020.
Sitting at 3-5, the Red Raiders have no shot at playing for anything of significance and they are guaranteed to finish with a losing Big 12 record for the 11th consecutive year. That’s certainly a disappointment.
However, a .500 record would signify some semblance of progress in year two of the Matt Wells era. That’s something that the Red Raiders desperately need being as the momentum surrounding this program has been trending in the wrong direction since at least 2015.
Of course, to get to that point, the Red Raiders will have to take down Oklahoma State next week, which is ranked no. 14 in the nation this week. Should Tech pull that upset, it would be the most significant win of Wells’ tenure to date and it would begin to change the perception of where Texas Tech football is headed.
Still, any team accomplishments left to be achieved in 2020 would modest at best. But for a number of individual players, the final two games of this year are more than significant as they present opportunities to cement their standing as key members of the team moving forward.
One such player who is almost certainly playing for his job in the final two games of the year is right tackle Josh Burger. In fact, you have to think that it may already be too late for him to solidify his starting role moving into the offseason.
Neither Burger nor left tackle Etan Carde have been good enough this year. However, Tech’s lack of alternatives at those positions has allowed them to remain in the starting lineup.
But now, Carde appears to have lost his starting job as last week against Baylor, true freshman Caleb Rogers got the nod to open the game. That’s as certain of a sign as there could be that the coaching staff is not happy with the play at the tackle positions.
While playing slightly better than Carde, Burger likely would have been replaced this year as well had there been other options. However, there will certainly be some additions to the roster this offseason and they will provide serious competition for Burger at right tackle.
For example, Tech has gone all-in (or at least as all-in as you can on the recruiting trail in 2020 when in-person visits are not allowed) for the no. 2 JUCO offensive tackle in the nation Caleb Etienne, who is set to announce his decision on November 26th. (For what its’ worth, Oklahoma State is widely considered the favorite in this battle.)
That’s proof that Tech is looking for immediate help at tackle and we should expect either the JUCO or the transfer portal to play a significant role in the tackle battle this offseason. The transfer portal is where Tech found Burger from Wofford last offseason but he’s struggled to make the transition from a triple-option offense to the spread offense this year.
Therefore, veteran additions will be made at tackle this offseason. Tech can’t afford to stand pat at that position. Thus, if Burger wants to keep his starting job or at least keep himself in consideration for a spot in the rotation, he needs to play his best football over the last two games of 2020.