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2013 Pre-Season Preview: Texas Tech Red Raiders

2012 Record: 8-5 (4-5 in Big 12)

Head Coach: Kliff Kingsbury (first time head coach)

Last Bowl Game: 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl: beat Minnesota 34-31

Stadium: Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, TX (capacity = 60,454)

Home Field Advantage: ranked 30th out of 69 BCS teams

Schedule Glimpse:

2013 Schedule Link

Out of Conference: 8/30 at SMU, 9/7 vs Stephen F Austin, 9/21 vs Texas St

Tough Conference Home Games: 10/12 vs Iowa St, 10/26 at Oklahoma, 10/28 at Texas, 11/9 vs Kansas St

Tough Conference Road Games: 10/19 at WVU, 11/2 vs Oklahoma St

 

Statistical Snapshot:

2012 Statistics Link

Stats to Fear: only caused 11 turnovers in 2012 (last in Big 12), allowed opponents to convert on 87.04% of trips to red zone (9th in Big 12)

Stat to Cheer: converted on 49.14% of third downs (3rd in Big 12)

Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 45th out of 124 teams

 

Personnel:

Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 5, Defense: 8, Special Teams: 2

Key Defensive Returnees: DE Kerry Hyder (56 tackles, 5.5 sacks), LB Will Smith (56 tackles), LB Sam Eguavoen (52 tackles)

Key Offensive Returnees: WR Eric Ward (82 rec, 12 TD), RB Kenny Williams (824 yds rush, 5.76 ypc)

Top 2013 Recruits: WR Gary Moore, WR Devin Lauderdale, OT Cody Hayes, QB Davis Webb, G Baylen Brown

 

Inside Scoop with Viva The Matadors:

CFBZ: Tommy Tuberville has left the building and the Red Raiders have brought back Kliff Kingsbury. What are your initial impressions of Kingsbury and how will the offense be different with him at the helm?
 
Viva The Matadors: Everything is great now, but that's largely because I think that Texas Tech fans are still in that honeymoon period, although I expect that to honeymoon period to remain for most of the year. The difference between Kingsbury and Tuberville is that Kingsbury's leash is so much longer than what Tuberville ever would have had. There's a trust factor there that wasn't apparent with Tuberville.  
 
As to the offense, I was only able to see the spring game and have started to play around with some of the stats from Kingsbury's time at Houston and Texas A&M, and I do think that you'll see an offense that wants to stretch the field a bit more. In 2010 while Kingsbury was the co-offensive coordinator at Houston with a true freshman at quarterback, he helped fashion an offense that still had a higher yards per attempt than the best year under Tuberville. Kingsbury wants to get the ball down the field more and that was certainly one of the bigger complaints that Texas Tech fans had with Tuberville and Neal Brown was that the offense was too horizontal and not vertical enough.  
 
 
CFBZ: Two year starter Seth Doege is now trying to make the Atlanta Falcons squad. Who replaces him?
 
Viva The Matadors: The most likely replacement is sophomore Michael Brewer, although Kingsbury said after the spring that true freshman Davis Webb is in the mix and Kingsbury hasn't made a decision as far as the quarterback position goes. After reviewing the numbers from the three spring scrimmages where stats were kept, it was clear that Brewer was significantly better than Webb. I think that Kingsbury wants to push both Brewer and Webb until the absolute end and if I recall correctly, Kingsbury and Sumlin didn't name Johnny Manziel until two weeks before the season started, so it wouldn't surprise me to see Kingsbury on the same timeline.  
 
As to their actual play, Brewer isn't the biggest quarterback, 6-1/183, but he's accurate, mobile and a winner. Brewer was highly successful at the high school level (his head coach in high school was Clemson OC Chad Morris) and I don't think he lost a game as a starter.  Webb is a bit of an unknown because he finished his high school career in December and started classes in January.  He's raw and he has a terrific arm and he's also pretty mobile, but Brewer has a couple of years of being in college and adjusting to the speed of the game, while Webb is still making that adjustment.
 
 
CFBZ: The defense was improved last season but still gave up over 30 points per game (39.1 in Big 12 play). Who needs to step up on this side of the football?
 
Viva The Matadors: I usually think it is your upperclassmen that need to step up their play and there are a handful of seniors that should play major parts in hopefully improving the defense, but the most important may be DT Kerry Hyder, who is doesn't necessarily need to step up his game. He's already pretty darned good and is first team on a handful of preseason publications. Hyder is very active and very quick. FS Tre' Porter should also have a significant 2013 if he can stay healthy and I think he will. Porter suffered a couple of concussions between 2011 and 2012 and sat out quite a bit of the 2012 season until he was fully recovered. Bandit LB Terrance Bullitt (this is a hybrid safety and linebacker) should also hopefully improve, again barring that he's injured, which was a problem last year.  
 
The two players that I think need to make significant improvement are two of the edge rushing linebackers, Branden Jackson and Pete Robertson.  Both have shown flashes, but haven't quite been able to get it done on the field.  I hope that we get to see some of their speed in getting to the opposing quarterback this year.


 
CFBZ: What will make the 2013 season a success in your eyes?
 

Viva The Matadors: I think that most fans would be relatively satisfied with 7 to 8 wins.  Obviously, more wins would be great, but I sorta get the feeling that fans are very excited for Kingsbury, but don't want to put ridiculously high expectations his first year as a head coach.  I think they realize that this will be a process for him on some level, especially the first season. I think that Texas Tech fans really tend to believe that the change in the attitude of the coaching staff will have a significant impact on the team morale overall and I tend to agree with that.
 
The things that I think Kingsbury will absolutely do is I think he will fight to the last second each and every game and so will his team. I think that was missing last year.

 

Verdict:

I never really felt Tommy Tuberville and Texas Tech were a good match. After three seasons, Tuberville ran out on his bar tab leaving behind a record of 20-17 and just a 9-17 conference mark. The best word to describe Tuberville's run in Lubbock is probably mediocre. Now the Red Raiders have brought back their former QB Kliff Kingsbury. It's a flashy hire but the verdict will be out for a while because of his inexperience as a head coach. Kingsbury surrounds himself with former Air Force DC Mike Wallerstedt, co-DC Mike Smith and co-OC's Sonny Cumbie and Eric Morris. Three out of four of those coaches are former Red Raiders players which makes for a good story. These guys should be able to relate to players and recruits very well but are they experienced enough?

Texas Tech must break in a new QB but the biggest concern on offense could be the offensive line. They lose their three most experienced players and return just 27 games of starting experience (which ranks them 119th in the Nation and tied with Kansas for the least experienced line in the Big 12). They have experience and talent at RB and at WR but they probably wish they had last years schedule back, at least in terms of how easy the first three games were. This is a team that could take a minute to gel because of the changes in personnel.

Playing in the high octane Big 12, the Red Raiders defense has given up at least 30 points per game in each of the last three years. The switch to Wallerstedt this year will be the Red Raiders fifth DC in five years. In terms of experience, the strength of this defense will be in the front seven as they return their three best linemen and all of their LBs. The rebuilding will happen in the secondary as they must replace three starters.

The season opener at SMU will be interesting. Tech should pick up a win but both teams seem to have that "wildcard" feel to them as they enter the season. Stephen F Austin and Texas State round out the out of conference schedule. Last year, Tuberville had his winningest conference record as the Red Raiders went 4-5 with wins over Iowa State, WVU, TCU and Kansas. Basically, they beat everybody worse than them in the conference and lost to everybody better than them. How boring and that's not how I expect Kingsbury to do it this year. I think this team will see some real peaks and valleys. Expect them to win a game or two they are not supposed to and expect for them to get caught by a team they probably think they should beat. This should be a fun year for Texas Tech fans as Seth mentioned in our Q&A that many are still in the "honeymoon" phase. That's a great place to be as a fan and I think they will see some glimpses this season but I think Kingsbury, his staff and his players need to get some experience under their belt and they should view this as a learning season.

Prediction: 7-5

 

Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews:

ACC- MiamiVirginia
Big Ten- NorthwesternPurdue
Independent: ArmyIdahoNavyNew Mexico StOld Dominion
The American- HoustonMemphisRutgersSMUTempleUCFUConnUSF
Kevin Causey

About Kevin Causey

dry humorist, beer snob, occasionally unbiased SEC fan, UGA alumni, writer for Crystal Ball Run and founder of College Football Zealots

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