In the spring and summer months, confidence is the coin of the realm in college football. Every team is undefeated, and they all believe that their high preseason rankings are justified, or, if lightly regarded, that they will shock the nation. Never is heard a discouraging word in March through August, and the skies are not cloudy all day.
The 2014 Texas Tech Red Raiders are, of course, no exception to the rule. The atmosphere of the program is upbeat and excited, and anticipation for the upcoming season is already at a borderline fever pitch. This is not necessarily surprising.
But what is surprising is just how confident this team—players and coaches—is right now. Having covered Texas Tech football since 2004, and having been a fanatic for 26 seasons before that, I can honestly say that I have never seen a Red Raider football team as confident in April as is the current group.
Such confidence would be no surprise if Tech were coming off of an 11-win season and returning 17 starters, but that is hardly the case. The Red Raiders were a very respectable but not fabulous 8-5 last season, and endured a five-game losing streak in which the average margin of defeat was 20 points. Tech also returns only nine full-time starters on offense and defense. Suffice it to say that the Red Raiders will not be picked by the pundits—or other coaches—to even contend for the Big 12 championship, let alone to win it.
The Red Raiders themselves, however, are completely unfazed by what, on paper, looks like potentially a rough season.
Following the Red-Black Scrimmage Kliff Kingsbury said, "We have a lot more confidence than last year. Last year we just tried to install and the guys are trying to figure us out and figure out our expectations. They know what they can be after that bowl game [Holiday Bowl stomping of Arizona State] and carry that confidence over after beating a top-15 team. They know what they can be if they put it all together, so that's exciting."
Said defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt, "This is a program on the rise. I think the kids are excited about what we're doing. They're buying in, they're being accountable, they're going to class, they're staying out of trouble, they're working hard."
"I think this is gonna be a group that continues to have strong leadership. I know number seven [Davis Webb] is gonna be a huge leader for us and I think Sam Eguavoen is embracing that role."
"So I think as all of our guys get here in June with all of our signees and we have a monster summer that this thing will look a little bit different than even what it looked like today."
By "different," read "better." Much better.
But as confident as Kingsbury and Wallerstedt appear to be, quarterback Davis Webb is even more effusive. "We have a chance to be a really good team. We're flying under the radar, and that's what we want. And there's no reason you shouldn't expect this team to be one of the best that's ever played at Texas Tech."
In order to be that good, the Red Raiders will have to win 10 games, minimum. Given that Tech draws Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma at home to go along with road trips to Oklahoma State and Kansas State as well as a neutral-site game with Baylor, that will be a very difficult task. And it is a task made all the tougher by the fact that the Red Raiders are counting heavily on a bevy of newcomers to bolster what still looks like a somewhat shaky defense.
But who knows? Perhaps this group of Red Raiders knows something we don't.
Red Raiders Unusually Confident
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