Future's So Bright

What do the numbers say about Texas Tech's 4-0 start? Can the Red Raiders keep it going?

Kliff Kingsbury's Red Raiders are 4-0 and ranked number 24 in the AP poll. What's more, Texas Tech has actually played and defeated a formidable opponent in TCU, so the team's success cannot be written off as a function of having played a yellow-bellied schedule.

So the future's so bright the team has to wear Ray-Bans, right? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. Let us look at some interesting stats, which may give some indication of the future of the 2013 Red Raiders.

Average Scores: Despite playing what, by today's debased standards, constitutes a fairly difficult first four games, the Red Raiders are winning by an average 26-point margin. The average final score of a Tech game is 39-13 Red Raiders. In other words, Tech has yet to play a game where they were sweating buckshot in the final minutes. That is actually rather impressive and bodes well for the future.

Rushing Yardage: The ability to run the football is generally seen as an index of a team's physicality. Physically dominant football teams run the ball with relative ease. But to this point, the Red Raiders have hardly been a rushing juggernaut. Tech is actually being outrushed 485 yards to 446, and the Red Raiders hold only a .2 yards advantage over their opponents in yards per carry. Given that Tech has played only one BCS conference team in addition to an FCS team, the Red Raiders' rushing stats should be much more impressive. On the bright side, however, Tech probably has already seen the best rushing defense they'll see all year in TCU.

Kickoff Returns: It has seemed as though the Red Raiders are dominant in kickoff returns and kick coverage, and indeed, the statistics bear this out. Tech averages 30.7 yards per kickoff return, which is eighth best in the nation. Likewise, the Red Raiders allow only 16.7 yards per kickoff return, which is No. 7 nationally. It is unlikely that any team in the nation has such combined proficiency in those two areas. Tech has a clear advantage in athleticism when it comes to the kickoff game.

Turnovers and Turnover Ratio: The Red Raiders are improved in these critical areas over last year, but they still have a ways to go to reach elite status. To date, Tech has committed 10 turnovers while creating just seven (Tech is number 106 nationally in turnover ratio). Seven turnovers created through four games projects to 21 over the course of the regular season. Kingsbury hoped the Red Raiders would double their turnovers created from a year ago when they caused only 11. As matters stand, meeting Kingsbury's goal will be touch-and-go. However, Tech really needs to reduce the number of turnovers they commit. But with freshmen quarterbacks displaying neophyte judgment and less than ideal command of the offense, winning the turnover battle could be a struggle all season long. And when you don't win the turnover battle…

Ruling the Red Zone: Tech is absolutely killing it in the red zone, both offensively and defensively. Hence, the Red Raiders score 90 percent of the time in the red zone, and ring the bell for touchdowns 50 percent of the time. Those are very good numbers. Defensively, Tech is allowing points only 56 percent of the time in the red zone, and touchdowns 22 percent of the time. That latter statistic is truly tremendous. If the Red Raiders can maintain this sort of red zone dominance throughout the season, they will negate the problems associated with turnover ratio.

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