2014 Texas Tech Red Raiders Team Preview
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Head Coach: Kliff Kingsbury
2013 Record: 8-5 overall, 4-5 Big 12
2013 Bowl Result: Beat Arizona State 37-23 in the Holiday Bowl
2014 Returning Starters: 9 offense, 4 defense
Odds to win 2015 College Football Championship Game: 200/1
Odds to Win 2014 Big 12 Championship: 33/1
Regular Season Wins: over 6.5 -155 / under 6.5 +125
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Last season, the Texas Tech Red Raiders won their first 7 games of the season against inferior opponents. However, they lost 5 straight games after that against the five best teams in the Big 12, by an average score of 49-28. The Red Raiders would rebound with a Holiday Bowl upset over Arizona State 37-23. It was former Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury’s first year as head coach and he looks to build on an 8 win season a year ago.
Texas Tech returns 13 starters and looks for another bowl berth in 2014. Let’s take a look at Texas Tech on offense, defense, special teams and overall.
Texas Tech had the second best passing attack in the nation last year at 393 yards per game. However, the running game was among the worst in the nation at 118 yards per game. The Red Raiders averaged 36 points per game.
Last season, Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield split the snaps at quarterback. Michael Brewer even took 65 snaps last season. Mayfield and Brewer have both transferred so the job is Webb’s full time now. Webb, now a sophomore, completed 62.6% of his passes for 2,718 yards with 20 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Webb is a pure pocket passer and isn’t as mobile as Mayfield. Mayfield completed 64.1% of his passes for 2,315 yards with 12 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, and also had 190 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Webb must be more consistent and cut down on the interceptions in 2014.
Leading rusher Kenny Williams (125 carries, 497 yards and 8 touchdowns, 30 catches, 264 yards and a touchdown) has moved to defense. DeAndre Washington will be the feature back. He had 107 carries, 450 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 34 catches for 269 yards. True freshman Justin Stockton will also get a lot of carries.
Texas Tech must replace their top two receivers in tight end Jace Amaro (106 catches, 1,352 yards and 7 touchdowns) and receiver Eric Ward (83 catches, 947 yards and 8 touchdowns). Receivers Jakeem Grant (65 catches, 795 yards and 7 touchdowns) and Bradley Marquez (49 catches, 633 yards and 6 touchdowns) look to be the go to receivers in 2014. Sophomore Reginald Davis had 15 catches and 3 touchdowns last year. He will become a bigger part of the passing game.
The offensive line should be improved with four of five starters returning including All-Big 12 tackle Le’Raven Clark. Texas Tech also added JUCO transfers Dominique Robertson and Shaquille Davis to bolster the rotation.
Texas Tech had a top 40 defense giving up only 367 yards per game. However, they gave up almost 31 points points a game, mainly because they were -14 in turnovers for the season. Only California and Southern Miss were worse nationally. Each of those teams had one win in 2013. The defense faces an overhaul with only four starters returning. However, an influx of junior college talent could lead to improvement.
Keland McElrath and three other JUCO transfers will bolster the defensive line which sometimes struggled against the run especially in conference play.
Linebacker V.J. Fehoko, a transfer from Utah, quickly established himself as one of the defensive leaders for Texas Tech. The former running back Kenny Williams will also get time in the rotation at linebacker.
The secondary will be anchored by cornerback Justis Nelson and safety J.J. Gaines. The Red Raiders have depth in the secondary with 6 players battling for the other two starting spots.
Kicker Ryan Bustin made 23 of 27 field goals last year and returns for his senior year. The Red Raiders must break in a new punter in Taylor Symmank. Grant and Davis should be the primary return men. Davis had a kickoff return for a touchdown last season.
Texas Tech opens at home against Central Arkansas, before traveling to UTEP. A tough game at home is next against Arkansas. Then comes a very tough two game road trip at Oklahoma State and Kansas State to open conference play. The Red Raiders get West Virginia, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma in Lubbock. They travel to TCU and Iowa State, and close the regular season in Arlington against Baylor. If they can cut down on the turnovers, Texas Tech has a good shot at 7 wins and another bowl berth.
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