Thursday, June 15, 2017
Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Texas Tech Red Raiders
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Patrick Mahomes was one of the most high profile QBs to ever start at the position for Texas Tech, and that was not enough for him to ever be a winner in Lubbock. One would imagine that the clock on Kliff Kingsbury has go to the running out as head coach of the Red Raiders short of a major miracle in 2017. The problem is that Mahomes is gone, and while anyone can basically run this system of offense, who will be the guy who will replace him, and can this football team ever be relevant in the Big 12 with the current staff in place?
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Texas Tech rarely has a bad QB, and even with Mahomes out of the picture Nic Shimonek showed flashes in his time on the field to make me believe that the passing game will not miss much of a beat. He passed for 464 yards and six TDs to just one INT last fall, and completed 65.5% of his pass attempts in limited action. He truly seems as if he can step right in and lead the action on offense without a problem.
The line will return three starters this fall. LG Jack Reichel, RG Justin Murphy, and RT Terence Steele will all return this fall, and all three were underclassmen a year ago. Reichel and Murphy will be juniors this fall, and they will be juniors with a ton of experience.
Jonathon Giles is back at the Y receiver spot after leading the team with 69 receptions for 1158 yards and a team leading 13 TDs. Keke Coutee will also be back at the H receiver after catching 55 passes for 890 yards and seven scores. Both are big play threats who averaged over 16 yards per catch last fall. Dylan Cantrell is back as well after a 57 catch season, and Cameron Batson caught 61 passes, and is back as well. Ian Sadler and Derrick Willies will both return to add exceptional depth at the receiver position.
Clayton Hatfield made 13/14 FG attempts last season, and will return for his junior season.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
Running the football is a mere suggestion for this staff, but you do not win if you cannot run the football, and the Red Raiders don't, can't, or won't run the football. Texas Tech finished 123rd in the nation in rushing last season at just 103.58 yards per game as a team. That will not get it done, and Deshaun Foster finally gave up and left as RB coach for the job at UCLA where he could actually try to accomplish something. Da'Leon Ward and Demarcus Felton both return, but is that all that big of a deal?
The line also needs two new starters. Madison Akamnonu was a freshman last seaosn, and may be the main candidate at LT, while replacing Tony Morales at Center is a wide open battle heading into fall camp.
Shimonek looks ready at QB, but the reality is that he only had four games in limited minutes last fall. If he falters, there is no other experience around to pick up the ball and throw it.
Hatfield being back at PK is solid, but he is an adventure at times on PAT tries, as he missed five last fall. That is a development worth watching as well.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
I will not insult my readers by even suggesting that Kingsbury knows the first thing about defense. This team has been a mess on that side of the ball ever since he took over as head coach. The Red Raiders allowed 43.5 points per game last fall, and may as well change their nickname to the Red Raided. In a total first, I find absolutely nothing about this unit to be excited about.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
Be concerned that this coaching staff has no clue what they are doing defensively. It's so bad that it befuddles me that Kingsbury, probably one of the ten worst coaches in FBS football currently (and it's more like in the five worst), still has a job as a head coach. He has done a terrible job in hiring defensive staff, and he should be nowhere near the table when defensive game planning is in full effect. It is obvious that he is lost there.
The Red Raiders collected, as a team, just 47 TFLs all season long on defense, while the Red Raiders offense allowed 67 TFLs against. That is a differential of 20!
The secondary picked off just five passes all season, while the offense gave up 11. That is more than double!
Texas Tch generated just 14 sacks in 12 games, while the offense allowed 30. Again, just more than double!
It is obvious that they key areas of this unit are inherently broken, and I do not believe that the current staff has a clue in hell as to how to fix any of it.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 Eastern Washington, 9/16 Arizona State, 9/23 at Houston, 9/30 Oklahoma State, 10/7 at Kansas, 10/14 at West Virginia, 10/21 Iowa State, 10/28 at Oklahoma, 11/4 Kansas State, 11/11 at Baylor, 11/18 TCU, 11/24 at Texas
The Red Raiders are a complete mess on defense, and now they have some questions on offense. You cannot win with an unbalanced approach to the game, and the Red Raiders all passing, no running, and no defense approach to trying to outscore every single opponent in a shoot out does not, and has never worked. This program largely wasted Mahomes and his ability at QB, and now there is legitimately not a star left on offense to carry the load that has been identified. Kingsbury should already have been fired by now, and if this team is as bad as I think it is, there is no justifiable way he should be back for a sixth season. In short, this program has become a shell of itself as it was under Mike Leach, which was still probably the dumbest firing of all time. Some messes cannot be cleaned up, they just need to get blown up and rebuilt. That is the case here.