July 18, 2007

Slay comparisons valid?

Only two short seasons ago the hardest hitter--by near unanimous consent I dare say--in Texas Tech football history graduated. Strong safety Dwayne Slay, who played only two seasons for the Red Raiders and started one, made quite an impression in that brief span.

He powdered and pulverized ball-carriers en route to leading the Big 12 in forced fumbles, being named the conference's Defensive Player of the Year, and gaining Sports Illustrated All American honors.

Those were the sorts of shoes Joe Garcia was faced with attempting to fill entering last season.

And the doubters were myriad.

There were questions about the Clovis, New Mexico product's speed and quickness that only intensified following summer workouts in which he practiced on a gamy ankle. Indeed, many observers felt that had current backup Anthony Hines not been knifed in a bar-room brawl and sidelined for most of the season, he would have been starting instead of Garcia.

Garcia, however, proved beyond any doubt that he was starting material with his performance last season. No, he did not have the sort of spectacular campaign that Slay did in his senior season, but Garcia was hardly a liability either. In fact, he was one of the strengths of a rather mediocre defense.

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