Ahead of this week’s conference opener, Texas Tech football fans got some good news on the injury front on Monday. That’s because head coach Joey McGuire said guard Weston Wright is back at practice and could play against the Longhorns on Saturday.
“I’m glad to have him,” McGuire said on Monday. He’s definitely a leader for us and brings a presence to that offensive line.
That’s a big improvement for an offensive line that has a lot of question marks. After all, Wright is arguably the team’s best lineman.
The 6-foot-6, 320-pound senior has made 33 starts in his Red Raider career. Along the way, he earned honorable mention All-Big 12 recognition (2020) while helping to bolster Texas Tech’s offensive front.
Wright went down in the Houston game with a sprained ankle and missed last weekend’s loss at NC State. And without him, Tech struggled to run the football, averaging 2.7 yards against the Cougars and 2.1 yards against the Wolfpack. Additionally, Tech has had 10 sacks over the past two games, which is obviously a very high number.
Wright’s return will have trickier effects down the line as well. Before Wright was injured in the Houston game, redshirt freshman Jacoby Jackson replaced starter Landon Peterson at right guard after Peterson struggled early in the game.
However, Wright’s sprained ankle meant Jackson had to slide to left guard, which moved Peterson back into the fray at right guard. The results weren’t good for the entire line that day, as Tech would give up six sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss.
Now, with Wright ready to start back, Jackson and Peterson can rotate at right guard, giving offensive line coach Stephen Hamby options when it comes to playing whichever player appears to perform better during the playoffs.
What’s more, Wright’s return comes this week as the Red Raiders prepare to battle a tough Texas defense. The Horns are averaging just 16.7 points per game.
Texas, on the other hand, has totaled just three sacks over the past two games. What’s more, the Hornets are allowing an average of 130.7 yards on the ground per game, which is second-highest in the Big 12 in 2022.
The question is whether or not this Red Raider offensive line can win that battle up front. Tech is coming off back-to-back games where the line has dominated.
Against Houston, the Red Raiders were fouled at the line of scrimmage when they had the ball. The Cougars lived in Tech’s backfield that day, especially defensive end Derrick Parish, who had 4.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss.
Tech was better in the pass protection department last week. It’s never good to give up four sacks, but at least one of those was QB Donovan Smith’s holding the ball in the pocket too long, and another one fell on the feet of running back Sarodoric Thompson, who was on a blitz pick-up.
Still, Tech could only muster 54 yards on the ground, and the line couldn’t open any holes against a stout Wolfpack defense against the run. If Tech is going to have the type of season it is, it’s an area where improvement needs to come quickly, especially playing for a sophomore QB of the future.
Wright’s return will only help the offensive line improve. The team’s experienced lineman has missed the last two games. Hopefully, his return will bring about a turnaround for a position that has yet to hit its stride this season.