Things didn't go anywhere near the way Tech hoped in 2016, for the second time in Kliff Kingsbury's four year run the Raiders were home by December.
Final Analysis looks back at Tech's 2016.
We harp on this because it's critical, what's the identity of a program? In other words, beyond the "core values" and marketing, what does a program do well? What do they do that makes them special, potent, or hard to deal with? If a program isn't intentional about what it wants to do, it's just hoping things go right and hope ain't a strategy.
Since the hiring of Mike Leach away from Oklahoma, and even through the Tubberville era, Texas Tech has been known for high flying Air Raid offenses. Hiring Kliff Kingsbury was a return to the Leach legacy. You can check all the boxes offensively, Tech has been a GREAT offensive team.
Tech has finished in the top 10 each of Kingsbury's four seasons at Tech. This season they were the #1 offense in America. I assume Baylor mails that banner to Lubbock. For the record, the last four seasons the Red Raiders have finished 1, 2, 10, 8 in total offense. Heck, even that old Curmudgeon Tubberville had the Red Raiders in the top 15 for three straight seasons.
Three of the top ten single season passing yardage marks are held by Red Raiders and six of the top twenty.
Offense hasn't been the problem. Defense? Yep. Horrible. The Red Raider defensive identity has basically been a failure to tackles, consistently getting pushed around up front, and allowing 40 plus points a game. To everyone.
David Gibbs was brought in for the 2015 season to fix it. The Red Raiders finished 125th in total defense in 2014. Gibbs arrival led to a 127th place finish in 2015. This year they were dead freaking last, 128th. The stats read like a horror novel, 43.5 point a game, 5.73 yards per carry, 241 plays of ten yards or more, and opponents converting 43% of third downs.
Texas Tech fashion themselves a Big 12 contender, their offense certainly says they should be, but until their defense becomes anything other than terrible they'll have to survive by scoring 50 and hoping their defense can hold someone to 49. That's a hard way to make a living.
Who would've predicted that Texas Tech and TCU would combine for 51 points? Not us. Texas Tech went into Fort Worth and played as solid a defensive effort as they've played in years. Texas Tech possessed the ball for seven more minutes than TCU and held the Frogs to just 4.4 yards a carry. That's not great, but considering Tech's usual run defense, it was a big afternoon. We thought Tech might have turned a corner, then they gave up 52 points a game the next three weeks. All losses.
Losing to Iowa State is bad, Iowa State dropping 66 on you is a bottom five moment in your program's history.
Answers We Have...
Assuming Patrick Mahomes returns for his senior season, and that's a big assumption, Tech will once again have one of the most talented quarterbacks in college football running the offense. Mahomes has not yet declared and may be going through offseason wrist surgery which could effect his draft position. If he stays he could become the second player in NCAA history with three 5,000 yard seasons, tying Case Keenum.
Mahomes will have a number of weapons to throw to including Jonathan Giles and Keke Coutee. Giles was named 2nd Team All-Big 12 and his 69 receptions led the team as did his 13 touchdown receptions. Coutee increased his receptions from 11 to 55 and became a legitimate big play threat for Tech. Cameron Batson also returns for his senior season. Batson was second on the team in receptions.
If Texas Tech can replace two starters, they should be solid once again on the offensive line. The Red Raiders allowed 30 sacks in 2016, not a great number until you consider Tech attempted 653 passes. That's elite level protection from an offensive line that played six different players at the tackle positions.
Defensively linebacker Jordyn Brooks led the team in tackles as a true freshman. Brooks will benefit from his first offseason with the program but he was very good last season. Brooks is one of three true freshman linebackers to see significant action in 2016 with Jonathan Picone and Brayden Stringer.
Safety Jah'Shawn Johnson finished third on the team in tackles as a sophomore. Johnson also had two interceptions and three forced fumbles.
Answers we need...
The first, last, and every question in between falls to the Tech defense. Will they ever be just bad and not terrible? Serviceable not horrendous? David Gibbs will get a third year, and he should, the revolving door or defensive coordinators has to stop. Can Gibbs' defense turn a corner or any sort?
The defensive line has decent parts, not of which performed beyond average in 2016. The most talented up front is Breiden Fehoko has started every game since his arrival on campus two years ago. Can the defensive line, which returns six of eight off the 2016 two-deep play to their potential?
On the opposite end of the experience spectrum, Tech loses three of its top four corners from the 2016 two-deep. That's not a great prognostic indicator for a Big 12 defense.
On the other side of the ball, and on the chance that Mahomes does in fact head for the greener pastures of the NFL, the ball will placed into the hands of Nic Shimonek. Shimonek was a highly regarded high school quarterback out Corsicana Mildred who initially went to Iowa. After transferring and sitting out, Shimonek has played well in the brief stints that he's been thrown in. Can he get close to Mahomes' level of production? If not, is a player like a Jett Duffy ready to step in and lead the offense?
The Red Raiders non conference schedule is tough, starting with an explosive FCS squad in Eastern Washington. The Red Raiders then welcome Arizona State to Jones Stadium before heading to Houston.
9/2 Eastern Washington
9/16 Arizona State
9/23 @ Houston
9/30 Oklahoma State
10/14 @ West Virginia
10/21 Iowa State
10/28 @ Oklahoma
11/4 Kansas State
11/11 Baylor (Arlington)
11/25 @ Texas
Texas Tech is currently putting together a great class, ranked 30th in the country according to 24/7 and 3rd in the Big 12 behind only Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Dakota Allen is a familiar face, a previous Red Raider who spent a year in exile at JC after catching a felony burglary case. Allen is part of a trend in the 2017 class, there are a lot of JC defenders. Kingsbury's no fool, he knows the defense has to get better now. At the high school level Jack Anderson from Frisco is one of the best centers in the country. He and Dawson Deaton give the Red Raiders two of the top linemnn in this years pool.
|Scout Rank||Name||Pos||Pos Rank||Ht||Wt||40 Time||School|
|33 (JC)||Dakota Allen||ILB||6'2"||225||East Mississippi|
|15 (JC)||Octavious Morgan||CB||6'0"||195||Butler County (KS)|
|51 (JC)||Jaylon Lane||CB||6'1"||184||Independence|
|NR||Desmond Nisby||RB||6'2"||240||Diablo Valley|
|NR||Jacob Hines||OG||6'4"||310||Long Beach|
|32 (JC)||Tony Jones||OLB||6'2"||222||Butler County (KS)|
|76 (JC)||McLane Carter||QB||6'3"||220||Tyler|
|88 (JC)||Vaughnte Dorsey||S||5'11"||195||Mississippi Gulf Coast|
|NR||Nelson Mbanasor||DE||58||6'3"||250||4.95||Pflugerville, TX|
|NR||Riko Jeffers||ILB||21||6'1"||235||Sachse, TX|
|NR||John Davis||CB||88||6'1"||170||4.56||Euless, TX|
|NR||Adrian Frye||CB||6'1"||165||4.55||Houston, TX|
|NR||Adam Beck||S||38||6'2"||180||4.6||Richmond, TX|
|NR||Will Farrar||OT||41||6'5"||290||Richmond, TX|
|NR||Casey Verhulst||OT||77||6'6"||272||5.5||Plano, TX|
|NR||Bronson Boyd||WR||97||6'3"||183||Arlington, TX|
|NR||Quincy Addison||S||105||6'2"||175||Angleton, TX|
|NR||Dawson Deaton||C||8||6'5"||297||5.5||Frisco, TX|
|42||Jack Anderson||C||1||6'5"||300||5.3||Frisco, TX|
|NR||Xavier Martin||QB||38||6'0"||180||4.43||Cibolo, TX|