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Six Wins Means More Time for Growth and Development for McGuire, Red Raiders

The Red Raiders are bowl-eligible, and that gives Tech a chance to accelerate the program's development.

Take a look at the Texas Tech depth chart for a minute. Give it a good look. I did. And I saw something … normal.

Plenty of juniors and seniors. I scanned it and could find just two freshmen starters on the depth chart — right guard Jacoby Jackson and wide receiver Jerand Bradley. Both are redshirts.

Dig a little deeper and look for the true freshman. I found two on the offense and defense — center Sheridan Wilson and edge rusher Joseph Adedire. The latter got some time on Saturday night with the injury to starter Tyree Wilson.

The point here is that Tech’s depth chart has veterans on it. Plenty of juniors and seniors on the two-deep. That’s how it should be. It’s the sort of experience you want. But if you’re coach Joey McGuire, you’re also planning for the future. But that’s hard when you’re trying to get to a bowl game.

Saturday’s 14-10 win over Iowa State put the Red Raiders in a bowl game in McGuire’s first season. It’s a shame Texas Tech’s final score wasn’t 15 because that would match what that win got the Red Raiders — 15 extra practices.

That’s what a team gets when they go to a bowl game. Fifteen extra practices.

The kids love the perks of going to a bowl game. Believe me, the coaches love the extra practices so much more.

I learned that about 10 years ago during a Mid-American Conference call with coaches after spring workouts. Jerry Kill, then at Northern Illinois, was talking about how he made his program sustainably successful in that conference. He referenced those 15 practices as a head start.

More coaches have referenced it over the years. It’s the bonus of reaching a bowl game. It’s a head start on the next season.

Kill talked about how he used those practices. From his standpoint, he looked at all of the on-campus practices as a way of giving his starters and main backups a break after a long season. 

The redshirts, the true freshmen who barely played, and anyone else that really needed the work got it. And plenty of it. He said you do your best to develop younger players during the season, but the bulk of the practice work goes to who’s playing each weekend.

With the bowl game nearly a month away, Kill saw it as a chance to accelerate his younger player's development while his staff crafted the game plan for the bowl game and began installing it through meetings with the starters.

That was how he kept the Huskies successful. He knew he was losing anywhere from 20-30 players every year. He had the young players on the roster to replace them, but they hadn’t gotten much work. Those practices gave Kill the chance to get them the work.

As the game grew closer, he re-integrated the starters and the players that would play bigger roles the next season took a back seat. By spring, those players had a head start and a job to compete for.

McGuire knows this well from his time at Baylor under Matt Rhule and Dave Aranda. But this will be his first year as head coach leading the team through bowl game practices.

During the broadcast of Saturday’s game, Fox’s announcers referenced that just one true freshman had played more than four games this season for Tech. That means most of the high schoolers that McGuire and his staff recruited haven’t played much or have been redshirted. 

The Red Raiders’ win on Saturday just bought him plenty of time to give those young players the extra work that can accelerate their development and make them competitive for the two-deep next year.

Everything doesn’t run through Lubbock yet. But with a sixth win and a bowl game waiting, McGuire and his team have the chance to put in the extra work to make that happen.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

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