Texas Tech

Seth Doege carved up the Kansas State defense last season, completing 43 of 63 passes. (Photo by Michael Strong/TEXAS TECH ATHLETICS).

Overview: Quarterback Seth Doege is back for his senior season and looking to improve on some impressive numbers from last season: 4,004 yards, 28 touchdowns, 10 interceptions. Accordingly, the strength of Texas Tech will be its offense once again. However, the two most experienced running backs for the Red Raiders enter this season coming off torn ACLs. Sometimes the recovery yields better performances than ever (see Robert Griffin III), but sometimes it does not. Also, Texas Tech lost three starters from the offensive line. Overall, this group has the tools to score a lot, but the line is the lynchpin. If the offensive line meshes well and executes consistently, expect some shootouts from the Red Raiders.

Last year, Texas Tech’s defense was a liability. Now under the control of new coordinator Art Kaufman, the defense will move from the 4-2-5, which basically required more speed than the Red Raiders had, to the 4-3. The defensive line consists of two sophomores, a freshman and a junior. Considering how the line struggled in 2011, it is probably beneficial that there is not much continuity from that unit to this season’s group. The Red Raiders, who ranked second in the Big 12 in pass defense last year, retain some solid veterans in their defensive backfield, so that might give them a chance against some of the high-powered offenses they will face.

Schedule: After finishing the nonconference slate, Texas Tech goes directly to Iowa State. Upon returning to Lubbock, the Red Raiders play Oklahoma and West Virginia in back-to-back weeks. Following that, they take on TCU and Kansas State on the road. Perhaps in deference to that grueling beginning of conference play, the schedule becomes kinder later. The Red Raiders will have a chance to finish strong with home games against Texas (13-12 over last two seasons) and Kansas (no explanation needed) followed by contests with Oklahoma State and Baylor – both potentially reeling from the loss of their super-quarterbacks to the NFL.

Last year against Kansas State: Of all the games that seem to demonstrate the irrelevance of statistics, this one took the cake. Texas Tech scorched the Wildcats for 580 yards of offense – 241 more than Kansas State amassed – in the 2011 meeting. Nevertheless, Kansas State pulled out a 41-34 win with the help of an interception return for a touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown. Doege recorded 63 pass attempts, while Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein threw the ball just 18 times. The Wildcats converted 16 first downs as opposed to 32 by the Red Raiders, and they committed an uncharacteristic 10 penalties. As usual, strategies of minimizing turnovers (two for Texas Tech, zero for Kansas State) and controlling the ball worked in the favor of the Wildcats, who possessed the ball for 33:33, minimizing Texas Tech’s time of possession to 26:27.

Projection: If Texas Tech gets its defense in order, it could be much more of a contender than it appears to be at this point. The offense is potent, but with so much transition happening on the other side of the ball, I doubt that unit will be able to stop the offenses it will see throughout this season. The Red Raiders will probably end up with between five and seven wins this season – closer to the low end of the spectrum. They could be good for an upset or two, but without solid defense Texas Tech has to be in the bottom third of the league.

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