Over/Under: 36.6 Points per Game

Texas Tech's scoring output dipped considerably last season. Can the Red Raiders raise their scoring output by a touchdown per game next year and regain their identity as one of the top offenses in the nation?

Much has been made generally about how bad Texas Tech’s defense was last season, and specifically about the appalling 82 points surrendered to TCU. But Texas Tech has survived poor defense before.

Indeed, and as unpleasant as it is to relate, bad defense has become a hallmark of Red Raider football. And still, even with subpar defense, Texas Tech has won many a football game for the simple reason that the offense has been so potent.

But in 2014, Tech’s worst season since 1981, the Red Raider offense was a shadow of its traditional self. There is a wealth of statistical evidence proving the drop-off, but scoring offense may be the most telling. Last season Texas Tech averaged 30.5 points per game, which put the Red Raiders at No. 55 nationally out of 128 teams.

Now that may not sound too terrible, but in point of fact, going back through 2008, the worst Tech performed in scoring offense outside of 2014 was in 2010 when the Red Raiders averaged 33.1 points per game, No. 23 in the nation. Last season Tech was 2.6 points and 32 places worse than they had ever been over the course of seven seasons. That is a significant diminution, and it contributed heavily to the Red Raiders’ misfortunes.

2014 (4-8)30.555
2013 (8-5, defeated Arizona State in Holiday Bowl)35.823
2012 (8-5, defeated Minnesota in Meineke Car Care Bowl)37.520
2011 (5-7)33.822
2010 (8-5, defeated Northwestern in TicketCity Bowl)33.123
2009 (9-4, defeated Michigan State in Valero Alamo Bowl)37.07
2008 (11-2, lost to Ole Miss in Cotton Bowl)43.83

Clearly, if Tech is going to rebound in 2015 and get back on the winning side of the ledger, the offense will have to recoup much of its former power. A mediocre offense is the last thing David Gibbs’ retooled defense will need.

Will the Tech offense average more or less than 36.6 points per game?

In 2014 the Toledo Rockets averaged 36.6 points per contest, which put them No. 20 nationally. For Tech to surpass that number they will have to improve by at least 6.2 points per game, a very tough challenge, but one that the classic Air Raids of Mike Leach would have had no problem tackling.

And the 2015 offense will have much in its favor. Patrick Mahomes behind center for the entire season should make the offense more dangerous and consistent. His pocket presence and ability to strike deep downfield while turning the ball over rarely should pay terrific dividends.

So too will a stacked backfield. Deandre Washington is set to make a strong case for being the best Tech running back since Byron Hanspard, and the talent backing him up is formidable to say the very least. Indeed, Tech’s ground game could be so good that it will sometimes take precedence over the passing attack, assuming Kliff Kingsbury uses it to the full.

And making it all go will be a talented and experienced offensive line. Left tackle Le’Raven Clark is one of the nation’s best, while Alfredo Morales is about as good if considerably less heralded. As long as injuries do not strike this somewhat thin unit, it will open holes for the backs and give Mahomes plenty of time to wreak havoc.

The only area of concern is the receivers. This group disappointed in 2014, dropping far too many passes and failing to block like Texas Tech receivers traditionally have done. But in Devin Lauderdale, Ian Sadler and Jakeem Grant, along with a few coveted incoming recruits, the talent will be there to do great things. It’s just a matter of actually doing it.

In the final analysis it is hard to imagine this offense not improving dramatically over the anemic 2014 unit, and it may well flirt with 36.6 points per game. But the projection here is that it comes up just short of that mark.

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