When Texas Tech begins the 2011 season it is sure to be the beginning of one of the most anticipated yet mysterious seasons to date.
Many are hoping for an improved squad in year two under head coach Tommy Tuberville but others are skeptical with the return of only 11 starters and another season with a new quarterback and a new defense.
The Red Raiders begin their quest for a Big 12 title on Sept. 3 against Texas State at Jones AT&T Stadium in a game that some feel will be more of a "tune-up" than actual regular season game. Nonetheless, Tech will need to look sharp and make few mistakes against a Texas State team they should dominate from start to finish.
TEAM BREAKDOWN – TEXAS STATE BOBCATS
Head Coach: Dennis Franchione (Third Season-Second Term, 13-9 at Texas State; 187-101-2 overall)
2010 Record: 4-7 (7th in Southland Conference)
Returning Starters: 13 (6-offense, 7-defense)
Offensive Style: Multiple Pro
Defensive Style: 4-3
There's no doubt that 2011 will be a rebuilding year for new head coach Dennis Franchione and the Bobcats. The biggest hope is that the team can get enough positive momentum and experience before it leaps into the Western Athletic Conference in 2012. Franchione returns to Texas State football after coming to San Marcos in 1990 to coach for two seasons. It's his first coaching position since being ousted at Texas A&M following the 2007 season. The Aggies went 32-28 in a five-year span making only three bowl games, losing two of three with Franchione on the sideline. But he does inherit sophomore quarterback Tyler Arndt, who showed promise before missing the final four games of the season after suffering a knee injury.
Arndt has been hard at work in the spring and looks to take back the starting position this season after completing 106 of 192 passes for 1,364 yards and nine touchdowns while giving up seven interceptions in 2010. But he'll need the help of WR Daren Dillard, who was the second-leading receiver on the team in 2010 with 37 catches for 510 yards and five TDs. He looks to become the No. 1 man for Arndt in place of last year's top wideout Da'Marcus Griggs (65 catches, 920 yards, six TDs). With Arndt, Texas State averaged 341 yards of offense and nearly 28 point per game with a 3-4 record. Without him, the Bobcats were 1-3, averaging 320 yards and less than 20 points per game.
Let's face it, it's the Bobcats' defense that will have the most pressure on it during its first regular season game against Texas Tech. While the linebackers and defensive line will have plenty on their hands with Tech's improved running game and stable of running backs, Texas State's strongest point could be junior defensive back Darryl Morris. Morris led the secondary last season with 60 total tackles including 6.5 for a loss and nine pass breakups.
Morris was second on the team only to linebackers Marcus Clark (64 tackles) and Brian Lilly (63 tackles) – neither of which had more tackles for loss than Morris. Franchione said during spring workouts that he expects a lot from Lilly and junior Bryan Iwuji, who had 52 tackles last season and showed the most improvement during over the offseason. But the biggest piece will be keeping opponents out of the end zone. Texas State gave up 34.27 points per game including 68 to Houston in the 2010 season opener. Texas State's toughest part may be trying to hold off teams in the second quarter where it allowed 141 points (12.8 per game) – more than 37 percent of the 377 points allowed all of last season.
EARLY BOLD PREDICTION
Texas Tech 55, Texas State 17