#70 Texas Tech Football 2017 Preview

Texas Tech Red Raiders
Overall Rank: #70
#9 Big 12
There are a ton of questions that need to be answered in 2017 for the Texas Tech football program. Offensively, Coach Kliff Kingsbury needs to replace Patrick Mahomes, who was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Defensively, they need to find a way to get to at least the below average level for the Red Raiders to get back to a bowl game and save Coach Kingsbury’s job.
2016 Record: 5-7, 3-6
2016 Bowl: None
Coach: Kliff Kingsbury (24-26 at Texas Tech, 24-26 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Eric Morris
Defensive Coordinator: David Gibbs
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Da’Leon Ward, RB, 428 yards
Passing: Nic Shimonek, QB, 464 yards
Receiving: Jonathan Giles, WR, 1,158 yards
Tackles: Jordyn Brooks, MLB, 86
Sacks: Seven players tied with 1.0
Interceptions: Jah’Shawn Johnson, FS, 2
Other Key Returnees: WR Derrick Willies, WR Keke Coutee, WR Dylan Cantrell, LG Madison Akamnonu, C Paul Stawarz, RT Terrence Steele, DE Kolin Hill, CB D.J. Polite-Bray, K Clayton Hatfield, DT Broderick Washington, NT Joe Wallace, WR Cameron Batson
Key Losses:  QB Patrick Mahomes, RB Demarcus Felton, C Tony Morales, LB Malik Jenkins, DL Ondre Pipkins, DB Justis Nelson
Texas Tech has never truly had a problem moving the football as they averaged 564.5 yards per game last season despite winning a mere five games. Nic Shimonek will be expected to continue to operate the Red Raiders offense at a high level and, so far, has shown a great deal of leadership in running the offense during the spring. Da’Leon Ward will become an even more important part of the offense for Texas Tech as they will need to be able to run the ball a little bit more than normal until the passing game gets rolling with Shimonek. The wide receiver corps is very deep, led by Jonathan Giles who caught 69 passes for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. Cameron Batson, Dylan Cantrell, and Keke Coutee are going to cause problems as well for defensive secondaries as all three players can make big plays. If the offensive line can do a better job of controlling the line of scrimmage, things will be alright for the Red Raiders.
This has been the achillies heel for this program for years as the 2016 season was filled with record breaking types of poor performances. It is going to be critical for Texas Tech to get big time breakout seasons from guys like Jordyn Brooks and Dakota Allen in the linebacker corps. Pressure on the quarterback must improve as the Red Raiders struggled mightily in 2016, tallying just 14 sacks in 12 games. Broderick Washington will need to take a step forward as a sophomore to help the defensive line create more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The Bottom Line:
For Texas Tech to get back to postseason play they will need to get off to a fast start, but the schedule is not the easiest to start the season. Eastern Washington visits on September 2nd, which is a trap game as the Eagles are more than capable of pulling off the upset. Arizona State follows on September 16th in Lubbock as well. These two teams battled in Tempe last September with the Sun Devils winning by a score of 68-55. The Red Raiders are going to have to make Arizona State one dimensional by forcing them to throw the ball. Houston finishes off the non-conference schedule and the Cougars will be a tough out under first-year head coach Major Applewhite. On September 30th, Oklahoma State will return to Jones AT&T Stadium to kick off the Big 12 schedule in a rematch of last year’s 45-44 classic in Stillwater. If Texas Tech can steal one against Oklahoma State, they will be in the mix for a bowl bid at the end of the season.
Projected Bowl: None
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 101.5 (123rd in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 463.0 (1, 1)
Total Offense: 564.5 (1, 1)
Scoring Offense: 43.7 (5, 2)
Rushing Defense: 238.6 (116, 10)
Pass Defense: 315.8 (125, 10)
Total Defense: 554.3 (128, 10)
Scoring Defense: 43.5 (128, 10)
Turnover Margin: -0.33 (93, 8)
Sacks: 1.17 (117, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 2.50 (95, 8)
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#63 Jack Anderson