Texas Tech Red Raiders
Head Coach: Kliff Kingsbury
2015 Record: 7-6 overall, 4-5 Big 12
2015 Bowl Result: Lost to LSU 56-27 in the Texas Bowl
2016 Returning Starters: 6 offense, 6 defense
Odds to Win 2017 College Football Championship Game: 600/1
Odds to Win 2016 Big 12 Championship: 35/1
Regular Season Wins: under 6 1/2 -140 / over 6 1/2 +110
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Texas Tech had an uneven season last year. They started off 3-0 including an upset over Arkansas. Then they lost to TCU and Baylor, before beating Big 12 doormats Iowa State and Kansas. Next came a three game losing streak against the two Oklahoma schools and West Virginia. The Red Raiders would rally to win their last two games, before getting crushed by LSU in the Texas Bowl. Four of the six losses for Texas Tech were by double digits, and in five of those games they gave up 50 points or more.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury gets 12 starters back in 2016 but it is the same old story in Lubbock. If the defense does not improve they will be be no more than a mid-level team in the Big 12. Here is a more in-depth look at Texas Tech plus a look at the schedule.
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Texas Tech averaged 580 yards per game including 388 passing yards and 45 points per game. They were #2 nationally in all three categories. Six starters are back for coordinator Eric Morris. However, Texas Tech must replace a lot of skill position players.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes II is back though. He threw for 4,653 yards with 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, and also rushed for 456 yards 2 with 10 touchdowns. Back-up Davis Webb transfered first to Colorado and then changed his mind before finally enrolling at California. Nic Shimonek will serve as the back-up quarterback.
Running back DeAndre Washington is now with the Oakland Raiders. He rushed for 1,492 yards on 233 carries with 14 touchdowns, plus he made 41 catches for 385 yards and 2 touchdowns. Justin Stockton looks to take over as the lead running back after rushing for 367 yards with 5 touchdowns, and making 22 catches for 341 yards and 6 touchdowns. Mahomes will also get carries as he did last year.
Receiver Jakeem Grant is now with the Miami Dolphins. He made 90 catches for 1,268 yards with 10 touchdowns and added 2 rushing touchdowns. Devin Lauderdale was suspended indefinitely during the offseason but was reinstated. He had 43 catches for 639 yards and 4 touchdowns. Ian Sadler had 42 catches for 596 yards and 3 touchdowns and is also back. Reginald Davis III had 38 catches for 536 yards and 8 touchdowns and also returns. JUCO transfer Derrick Willies began his career at Iowa and could end up being the go-to receiver. Dylan Cantrell returns from injury and he will get targets along with Cam Batson and Da’Quon Bowman, another JUCO transfer.
The offensive line will feature mostly freshman and sophomores, but two seniors, guard Baylen Brown and center Tony Morales return to anchor the line.
Texas Tech was absolutely terrible on defense last year. The Red Raiders gave up 548 yards per game and 44 points a game. Texas Tech scored 53 points against Oklahoma State and still lost by 17 points. Six starters are back for coordinator David Gibbs. If there was a positive to the defense, they were +25 in turnovers.
Sophomore tackle Breiden Fehoko should be the leader on the defensive line. End Gary Moore had three sacks last year. The unit was bolstered by the addition of two transfers from high profile schools, ends Kolin Hill (Notre Dame) and tackle Ondre Pipkins (Michigan).
Another sophomore, D’Vonta Hinton should lead the linebackers. Sophomore linebacker Dakota Allen was dismissed from the team in May. Malik Jennings and Luke Stice should start at the other two linebacker spots.
The secondary has a mix of veterans and underclassmen. D.J. Polite-Bray and Justis Nelson are projected to be the starting corners. Payton Hendrix and Jah’Shawn Johnson should start at the safeties.
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Clayton Hatfield returns for his sophomore year as the kicker after making 14 of 16 field goals last year. Michael Barden takes over the new punter for All-Big 12 punter Taylor Symmank. Stockton will take over as the kick returner. Batson or Bowman could return punts. Bowman was one of the top punt returners in the JUCO ranks last year.
Schedule and Outlook
The non-conference schedule includes home games against Stephen F. Austin and Louisiana Tech, plus a road game at Arizona State. In conference, Kansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Texas come to Lubbock. The Red Raiders travel to Kansas State, TCU, Oklahoma State and Iowa State, and they close the season with a neutral site game in Arlington against Baylor.
The offense will remain explosive despite losing Washington and Grant. If Texas Tech can even be semi-competent on defense, this team can hang with any team in the Big 12. I just don’t see it though, and I think they win six games.
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