TB Taurean Henderson

2002 Statistics

Coach: Mike Leach
23-16, 3 years
2002 Record: 9-5
at Ohio State LOST 21-45
at SMU
WON 24-14
WON 42-28
at New Mexico WON 49-0
at Texas A&M WON 48-47 (OT)
at Iowa State LOST 17-31
at Colorado LOST 13-37
at Oklahoma LOST 15-60
Clemson WON 55-15

2002 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2003 Outlook

Mike Leach has a terrific offensive mind. Not many would disagree, and it's doubtful that 2003 will be different. Texas Tech will score points in bunches, even without departed quarterback Kliff Kingsbury. Leach has one of the best wide receiving groups in the country, (legitimately) going four deep. If senior QB B.J. Symons, a steady three-year understudy to Kingsbury, can get them the football (on Tech's short patterns), they should be dangerous. All indications are Symons can and will.

The problem lies on defense, where new coordinator Lyle Setencich takes over a ravaged unit. Setencich believes in building from front to back, and with three starters and most of the defensive line depth gone, he could be gnawing his nails off by mid-September. A changed philosophy is needed to balance what tools he has.

Leach swore Tech played a tougher 2002 schedule than anybody in the country - and, in many ways, he may have been right. The Red Raiders went 9-5, which includes their bowl win and seven ranked teams in the mix. In 2003, Tech doesn't back off much, but this slate of teams is not as tough as 2002's. The Red Raiders open with SMU, a considerable step down from last year's first game against eventual champion Ohio State. They should beat New Mexico in the second week, but follow that with non-conference road scraps at North Carolina State and Mississippi. A 3-1 start would be ideal, but 2-2 is probably a better bet. Then the fun stuff starts. Tech plays eight conference games, with toughies Texas and Oklahoma to close. Leach has to have the Red Raiders at 6-4 or better entering mid-November, or else Tech is home for the holidays. A new QB means any bowl would be a victory for where this squad should be. But don't think this is unexpected…opponents taking Tech lightly could pay dearly.

Projected 2003 record: 4-8
C Toby Cecil
QB B.J. Symons
LB John Saldi
MLB Brock Stratton
QB - 3 DL - 2
RB - 4 LB - 2.5
WR - 4.5 DB - 2
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: B.J. Symons, 43-28-1, 329 yds., 5 TD

Rushing: Taurean Henderson, 153 att., 793 yds., 7 TD

Receiving: Wes Welker, 86 rec., 1054 yds., 7 TD

Scoring: Taurean Henderson, 13 TD, 78 pts.

Punting: none

Kicking: none

Tackles: Ryan Aycock, 151 tot., 87 solo

Sacks: Adell Duckett, 5 sacks

Interceptions: Vincent Meeks, 3 for 37 yds.

Kickoff returns: Ivory McCann, 27 ret., 18.3 avg.

Punt returns: Wes Welker, 57 ret., 13.2 avg.


OFFENSE: Kliff Kingsbury-QB, Rex Richards-OG, Anton Paige-WR, Foy Munlin-FB, Preston Hartfield-WR, Robert Treece-K
DEFENSE: Aaron Hunt-DE, Rodney McKinney-DT, Lamont Anderson-DT, Lawrence Flugence-MLB, Ricky Sailor-CB, Joselio Hanson-CB, Josh Page-DL, Clinton Greathouse-P

written by Ryan Hockensmith

Quarterback B.J. Symons takes over an offense that runs on automatic. The coaching is so good that a qualified QB can easily adjust and pick up right where the previous QB stopped. Such is the case for how smooth the transition should go for this year's offense.

Symons has waited three years for this chance. As Kingsbury's back-up since 2000, Symons knows every facet of the offense. The only thing lacking is game experience, but he should be fine. He has a cannon for an arm and throws the football so hard that Leach expects receivers to have more time in their patterns before Symons lasers the ball to them. He easily can make the short-to-intermediate range throws at which Leach's offense is so great, and he has the smarts to manage a game well. The only worry is Symons' tendency to gamble on the deep routes. He can't afford any five-interception games if Tech is going to better last year's 9-5 mark. In the final spring scrimmage, he peppered Tech's first-string defense for 19-of-24, 218 yards and no interceptions. Back-up Sonny Cumbie played on the scout team last year, but rolled up 256 yards on 15-of-17 passing in the last scrimmage. He's a capable back-up and could see time early if Symons proves unworthy.

The Tech offense boasts a very good receiving corps. Starter Carlos Francis said the top four - him, Wes Welker, Nehemiah Glover and Mickey Peters - might be the best in the country. That's a stretch, but they are as talented as any foursome in I-A. The four combined in 2002 for 252 catches, 3,108 yards and 32 touchdowns. That's confidence coaches pray one player has, but four?! If they can get an encore performance, (and Tech believes all four should be improved) the quarterbacks will be fine. At 6'3", 211 pounds, Peters is the most prototypical of the receivers. Francis stands 5'10", 197 pounds, Welker goes 5'9", 190, and Glover is 5'8", 174, but all are slippery targets for nickel backs to trace.

Leach isn't exactly Joe Paterno with the running game, but main back Taurean Henderson is a multi-threat danger sure to be utilized. He rushed for almost 800 yards. But even better is how he snuck into the secondary for 98 catches. Henderson, only a sophomore, has a ceiling he hasn't come anywhere close to yet.

With the sneaky running game and quick releases in the passing game, Tech doesn't need five Orlando Paces up front to move the ball. But the Red Raiders have a solid bunch in upperclassmen Toby Cecil and Casey Keck, juniors Daniel Loper and Dylan Gandy and sophomore E.J. Whitley. The loss of three-year letterman guard Rex Richards hurts, though. The entire offensive machine looks stable with these hogs solidly able to protect and destroy.


WR/PR Wes Welker


Returning Starters in bold
QB B.J. Symons-Sr (6-1, 209) Sonny Cumbie-Jr (6-4, 210)
RB Taurean Henderson-So (5-9, 187) Johnnie Mack-Jr (5-7, 174)
WR Wes Welker-Sr (5-9, 190) Jarrett Hicks-Fr (6-3, 205)
WR Nehemiah Glover-Jr (5-8, 168) Armon Dorrough-Jr (6-1, 178)
WR Carlos Francis-Sr (5-10, 197) Trey Haverty-Jr (6-0, 198)
WR Mickey Peters-Sr (6-3, 211) Joey Hawkins-Jr (6-8, 225)
OT Daniel Loper-Jr (6-7, 325) Michael Bailey-So (6-6, 296)
OG Cody Campbell-Jr (6-4, 315) Glenn January-Fr (6-6, 285)
C Toby Cecil-Sr (6-4, 290) Dylan Gandy-Jr (6-3, 294)
OG Manuel Ramirez-Fr (6-3, 310) Brandon Jones-Fr (
OT Casey Keck-Sr (6-4, 310) E.J. Whitley-So (6-6, 310)
K Ryan Bishop-Jr (5-8, 195) Keith Toogood-Fr (6-1, 180)



written by Ryan Hockensmith

New defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich emphasizes strong defensive line play. With only one starter back in the trenches, Setencich has plenty to keep him busy. He's installing a new system, with Tech's top two defensive players gone from a unit that gave up 400 yards and 31 points per game. The departures could prove to be a blessing in disguise if all fares well with the changes.

Along the defensive line, only DE Adell Duckett is back. He needs to improve on his five sacks if this line is to get the productive leader desired. His veteran presence and backfield push are vital. At the other end, Randall Cherry stands out as the primary replacement candidate for productive senior Aaron Hunt. Cherry had six tackles and one sack in 2002, but with an athletic 6'3", 262-pound former linebacker frame, he has the tools to cause some havoc across from Duckett. Inside, massive sophomore Fred Thrweatt (6'3", 333) had five tackles in 10 games. Redshirt freshman Ken Scott should contribute at the other spot. Whoever's in the middle will have one function: keep linemen occupied. There just isn't enough talent or experience to ask this group to dominate or be a factor pressuring the quarterback up the middle.

Junior Mike Smith will be expected to anchor their decent (but not spectacular) linebacker corps. Smith racked up 104 tackles and will have to gobble up ball carriers to offset the loss of departed tackling machine Lawrence Flugence (193 in 2002). Smith is smallish (6'2", 235), but big enough to fend off fullbacks and quick enough to get to and quickly through the line of scrimmage. On the other side, watch for sophomore John Saldi, MVP of the Tangerine Bowl, to develop. Saldi stands 6'5", is still adding to his 215-pound frame, and will only get better. Replacing Flugence, a worthy Butkus Candidate last fall, on the inside has basically become a battle between freshman. Yikes!

Standout free safety Ryan Aycock should have ample chances to better his 151 tackles. He's a former high school quarterback with the athleticism to hold up tight ends and stay with backs on pass routes. He'll sneak up to the line and bust through on blitzes, so OCs beware. Fellow senior Raymond Pierce returns along side Aycock, making for a solid and smart "last line of defense" for Texas Tech. Those two could be important run-defense helpers, with the assumption that the defensive line will struggle to occupy linemen. Aycock and Pierce could end up as semi-linebackers if that's the case. Sophomore defensive back Vincent Meeks hasn't settled anywhere yet, but he can't be on the bench. Meeks, with three interceptions a year ago, is too big a playmaker to be used as a nickel back.

On the outside, senior starters Ricky Sailor and Joselio Hanson are gone, leaving open competition for an inexperienced pool. Junior Ivory McCann saw time as a 2002 back-up on both sides of the field and will be relied upon to contribute. That's a major challenge for an inexperienced defensive back that stands 5'8", 161 pounds and had 10 tackles a year ago in limited action. Leach is hoping he'll see immediate dividends from his freshmen recruiting class, where he nabbed seven cornerbacks. If he can't sort out two solid starters and a few good reserves, Tech's offense is going to have a hard time keeping up with the opposition's numbers. Some man-to-man will be needed if the safeties are to slip into the box.


SS Ryan Aycock


Returning Starters in bold
DE Adell Duckett-Jr (6-4, 250) Seth Nitschmann-Fr (6-3, 239)
DT Fred Thrweatt-Fr (6-3, 333) Chris Hudler-Fr (6-2, 296)
DT Ken Scott-Fr (6-2, 295) Patrice Majondo-Mwamba-Jr (6-3, 290)
DE Randall Cherry-So (6-3, 256) Gathan McGinnis-Sr (6-1, 261)
SLB Mike Smith-Jr (6-2, 230) Geremy Woods-Jr (6-1, 246)
MLB Brock Stratton-Fr (5-11, 214) Fletcher Session-Fr (6-0, 212)
WLB John Saldi-So (6-4, 215) Jason Wesley-Jr (6-0, 218)
CB Ivory McCann-Jr (5-8, 161) Jamaal Jackson-Jr (5-11, 175)
CB Marcus Boyd-Sr (6-0, 198) SirDon Lewis-So (5-9, 160)
SS Ryan Aycock-Sr (6-1, 208) Micah Sweats-Fr (6-0, 196)
FS Vincent Meeks-So (5-11, 187) Byron Johnson-Sr (6-2, 202)
P Wich Brenner-So (5-11, 230) Alex Reyes-Fr (6-1, 200)




Something has to give if this season's special teams falter again. Any close games could be marginally lost in these areas. Likely newbies Ryan Bishop (kicker) and Wich Brenner (punter) didn't kick in a game last year, and could be challenged by freshmen. On returns, Welker's terrific with punt, averaging 13.2 yards per return (three TDs). If the defense can ever make anybody punt, he could again be dangerous. But look for opponents to see his probable impact and adamantly kick away from wherever he may be. McCann probably will handle kickoffs again, where he managed 18.3 yards per return with a long of only 35. If McCann starts on defense, look for another candidate to emerge from the qualified pack.


The "QB or the system" question has been preliminarily answered this spring. Starter B.J. Symons and backup Sonnie Cumbie combined going 34-41 for 474 yards and 4 TDs. Though they were going against a rather depleted Tech defense, the numbers still stand out. Symons has wowed spectators with his ability to throw the deep ball- something Kliff Kingsbury seemed to lack. That's a plus that WR Carlos Francis says he really enjoys- fans should too… Backup TE/WR Gabe Hall will have to sit out the entire 2003 season after suffering a severe cut to his right arm. Coming out of his shadow was junior James Hawkins. Hawkins may be one of the tallest receivers in the game (6'8") and his skills were sharpened and showcased this spring. A name being passed around in Lubbock's air of greatness is rsf WR Jarrett Hicks. Some think he is as good as former Tech great, Lloyd Hill… Leach had a few (early) tongue-lashings with the receivers due to dropped balls. In this offense, that simply cannot happen… RB Johnnie Mack is incredibly quick and can give the Raiders a capable back with big-play potential. The knock against him is that he is an east-west runner and needs to be more north-south. JUCO transfer Sione Havili will be one to watch as well.

Defensive Coordinator Lyle Setencich has brought with him more man coverage and blitz packages to help utilize the speed of this Tech defense. LB Josh Saldi said you could notice a sincere difference from last year's squad in that there is a lot more collision and aggression… DT Fred Thrweatt is a menace inside and should get the starting nod at DT. Former LB Marquis Turner has made the transition to DE and will give them the speed they are looking for on the outside… I really like what I see in MLB Brock Stratton. He is a quick, agile, tackling machine (and is absolutely ripped), who some say could be the next Zach Thomas. With Smith and Saldi lining him outside, Stratton should be in for a fine 2003 campaign. Giving him extreme competition though is classmate Fletcher Session… FS Byron Johnson has done well in a backup FS role and should see a good amount of action as a nickel back this season. Hopes are also high on newcomer (CB) Jamaal Jackson… The majority of fans seem skeptical about Setencich and the defense, continuing the tritefully obvious argument of "our offense has to score a ton of points for us to win". Setencich's defenses have been dubbed as moderate and if not improved, this group could get eaten alive in the dog-eat-dog world of the Big 12.

Redshirt freshman PK Keith Toogood has a rather interesting surname. Coaches have found out that he's certainly good enough to give Ryan Bishop a push for the kicking job. With Ivory McCann starting on defense, it is probable that his duties on kick returns will be diminished, if not exterminated. Mack and Glover might be the top choices, with Meeks a possibility too.