Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury may be the sexiest coach in the conference but last year his team proved to be a West Texas pretender. The Red Raiders beat all the teams they were favored to and then when the tough portion of the schedule came up the Raiders could not hold up. They lost their last five games in a row and expecting all that to change in one recruiting and offseason is asking a whole lot.
Texas Tech will be primed and ready for the first of those challenges, that if you don't count Arkansas as one, will come in Stillwater against the Cowboys.
Let's start with the matchup that gave Texas Tech the most difficulty and that was their defense trying to stop the Cowboys offense. J.W. Walsh is a similar quarterback to Clint Chelf that will be able to run and throw keeping the Tech defenders worried about containment in the pass rush and gaps in the middle as Chelf exposed those in a huge way last year in Lubbock.
Tech has lost one of its best defensive linemen in Kerry Hyder and the remaining players are okay but nothing special. Branden Jackson (DE), Jackson Richards (NT), and Demetrius Alston (DT) look to be the starters up front with four junior college signees ready to help out when they report this summer.
A word out there to all those wondering, when a team signs four junior college players for one area of their football team then you can feel free to consider it a cavernous weakness.
The 3-4-4 base defense by Tech is a solid scheme, and I like Pete Robertson a lot at the "bandit" linebacker position. He is extra aggressive and that can play both ways, but a defense needs a player like that to key off of. V.J. Fehoko is also a talented player and "raider" linebacker Kenny Williams is very athletic and can help with multiple receiver matchups.
Like Oklahoma State they will be very young in the secondary but I like the athletic ability. I am a big fan of Dee Paul at one corner, a player Oklahoma State recruited very hard. All projected starters look to be sophomores and that will create some problems against teams with talented receivers and a quarterback that can throw the ball intelligently and use his eyes to move players and create openings.
We are not positive that the Cowboys can do all that. They have in the past and if Walsh, Garman, or Rudolph is comfortable by that Thursday night then this is an area where the scoreboard could get blown sideways like it has been the past several seasons against Texas Tech.
In other words, you worry about youth on the Oklahoma State defense, be glad you aren't Texas Tech as the Raiders are younger and have greater concerns in more areas.
Blake Webb is the real deal at quarterback and Texas Tech is touting him huge. Provided he stays away from injury the Red Raiders will be a team to deal with on offense. Webb is calm and cool, has a big arm, is athletic, and very confident. If something happens to him, the plan seems to be to throw out the true freshman quarterback in Patrick Mahomes. Wow!
The other primary offensive weapons are DeAndre Washington, a very good running back, and talented inside receiver Jakeem Grant with Bradley Marquez back at the other slot position. The outside receivers are young but talented.
The Cowboys should match up well with the Texas Tech offensive line as I see them being able to control the line of scrimmage when on defense. That should help the young safeties as Tech has the firepower and the quarterback to stress those youngsters on the back end of the defense.
If Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin control the younger Texas Tech wideouts it allows Glenn Spencer and the defensive staff to be more careful with covering the middle of the field. Again, the pass rush and play at the line of scrimmage will be important.
Texas Tech is better or at least as good on offense provided Webb is healthy. The Red Raiders are still searching on defense. Oklahoma State is talented, but very young on the back end of its defense and likely some at linebacker too.
On offense, the Cowboys will be a mystery until proven on the offensive line. Hopeful, until proven more consistent at quarterback, and with the skill set players potentially very explosive. There will be lots of pressure on Sept. 25, but Oklahoma State at home should be fine as they are better on paper stacking up with Texas Tech.