Texas Tech's prodigal son has returned in first year head coach Kliff Kingsbury. The first in the long line of Air Raid quarterbacks under former coach Mike Leach is back in the South Plains of Texas to revive the Red Raiders program, which lost momentum under Leach's replacement Tommy Tubberville.
First thing was first, Texas Tech (4-0) had to truly get their offense back up and going like they had become known for and through the first four games, it's still a work in progress, thanks in large part to the injury big, which has hit Techs' quarterbacks particularly hard.
It was thought at first that sophomore Michael Brewer (6-1 185) would be the starter, but a back injury thrusted freshman Baker Mayfield (6-2 220) into the lineup in their 41-23 victory over SMU in the opener. Fellow freshman Davis Webb (6-4 195) has seen playing time as well, coming off the bench in their 20-10 week three win over TCU, when Mayfield injured his ankle.
Against Kansas, it appears Brewer will get the start after a week off was just the trick to get everyone healed. Though, it looks to be a gametime decision, as all three quarterbacks are listed as "or" on the team's depth chart.
Regardless, the Red Raiders are undefeated and now ranked in the Top 25, coming in at #20 and will arrive in Lawrence, as anywhere from a 14-17 point favorite. They also have weapons that will greatly aid whomever earns the start at Memorial Stadium, Saturday morning.
When talking about Tech's offense, you must start with the men who will catch the passes. The leading receivers are junior Jace Amaro (6-5 260) with 29 receptions for 267 yards and a touchdown along with senior Eric Ward (6-0 205), who's hauled in 20 catches for 221 and a score. Amaro is listed as a tight end, but the Red Raiders offense, you might as well count him as a receiver.
The other receivers, junior Bradley Marquez (5-11 200) and sophomore Jakeem Foster (5-6 160) make up the other starting wideouts. Marquez leads the team in touchdowns with four to go with 269 yards on 17 catches, Foster has two touchdowns to his name, along 18 receptions for 212 yards. Keep an eye on senior Sadale Foster (5-7 185), when the Red Raiders go five wide. He's a speedster that can play big from the slot.
Team captain Kenny Williams (5-9 225) lead Tech at the running back position. So far, the junior tailback only has 94 yards rushing on 29 carries with two touchdowns. Ironically, it's Mayfield, who leads the team in rushing with 168 yards on 39 carries.
The offensive line is big, though not as big as in previous years and with one exception, is fairly young. Lining up in their customary wide splits will be sophomore LeRaven Clark (6-5 320) at left tackle, sophomore Alfredo Morales (6-3 320) at left guard, sophomore Jared Kaster (6-3 275) at center, junior Beau Carpenter (6-6 285) and the lone senior Rashad Fortenberry (6-5 285) at right tackle.
The Tech kickers are strong and will help with field position. Junior Ryan Bustin (5-11 180) is a good kicker, but their punter may be one of the best in the nation in senior Ryan Erxeleben (6-1 190), the son of former Texas kicker Russell Erxeleben, who was known for routinely draining field goals in excess of 60 yards in late 1970s.
Grant and Foster make up the primary kick returners and can be dangerous. Luckily, for Jayhawks coach Charlie Weis, his kicking game is much improved and with the aid of a strong northwest wind on Saturday, it could be difficult for them to get many opportunities.