5 Reasons Texas Tech Will Win Big

Texas Tech opens fall camp next week and the season is just around the corner. Though the Red Raiders struggled mightily just a season ago, recent history suggests a quick turnaround is possible. The following are five reasons Tech will win big this season.

"Win big" is a subjective term, so let's just say eight-plus regular season wins.

Eight victories would double last season's win total and mark the most regular season wins by the Red Raiders since 2009.

Without further adieu, here's how they will pull it off:

The Quarterback Situation
I'm on record saying Patrick Mahomes is the man. He makes throws on the move not too many quarterbacks in the entire country can make. For those who don't believe me check these highlights out from last season and then again in the Midland scrimmage last spring.

Mahomes

Mahomes Again

2015 Texas Tech Spring Game

You could chalk up some of these deep throws to luck, but if that's the case he gets lucky a lot, so that works, too.

Mahomes threw for 1,547 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions in seven appearances as a true freshman last season, but in the only three games he started and took all the snaps--the final three contests of the season against Oklahoma, Iowa State and Baylor--he put up 1,304 yards, 14 TDs and just two picks.

As much as I like Mahomes, Davis Webb is a guy entering his third season in head coach Kliff Kingsbury's system and he has put up big numbers himself (5,257 yards, 44 touchdowns, 22 interceptions in 18 appearances). In fact, Webb was at the helm or made crucial throws in all of the "big" wins (TCU, West Virginia, Arizona State) since Kingsbury took over in 2013.

No matter who Kingsbury names as the starter, Texas Tech will have a better quarterback situation in 2015 than it has in years.

Flip the Turnover Stat
Texas Tech has been atrocious in the turnover category for years. In fact, in the past three seasons the Red Raiders have ranked 119th, 123rd and 110th, respectively, in the nation in turnover margin.

TURNOVER TROUBLE
SEASONMARGINNAT'L RANK
2014-1.08119
2013-1.08123
2012-1.00110
2011+0.0849
2010-0.2370
2009-0.4694
2008+0.6222

Enter new defensive coordinator David Gibbs. Guess what the No. 1 story line coming out of spring ball was?

That's right, the defense's new emphasis on creating turnovers. The Gibbs-led Houston Cougars defense was among the very best in the country in creating turnovers the past two seasons finishing No. 1 in turnovers forced in 2013 and No. 5 last season.

On the other side of the ball, Kingsbury has stressed taking care of the football as a top priority. The Red Raiders turned the ball over 28 times last season, which ranked 117th in the country.

If Tech can improve in the turnover category on both offense and defense, the Red Raiders could make some major noise in 2015.

Stops in Critical Situations
Coach Gibbs told me back in the spring his hope is he can give the ball back to the Red Raider offense late in the fourth quarter with a chance to win every game. If the defense does that, he will consider the season a job well done.

There is a lot of wisdom in what Gibbs said there. To expect what was a historically bad defense last season to morph into the Steel Curtain in 2015 is unrealistic. That being said, if Texas Tech can become proficient in getting stops in key moments, as it did in a couple short yardage situations against Baylor in the 2014 season finale, then the Red Raiders figure to be competitive in most if not all ballgames.

Getting stops in critical situations includes keeping teams out of the end zone once they reach the red zone. Tech finished dead last in the country last season in that category as opponents scored touchdowns 77.19 percent of the time.

A major improvement in this area would go a long way toward getting to eight regular season wins.

Stay Relatively Healthy
This one is pretty straight forward and you could probably use this as a key for every team in the country, but Tech has yet to build depth is some key areas.

The Red Raiders practiced in the spring with just seven scholarship offensive linemen and under 10 scholarship receivers. The Red Raiders received some reinforcements in the summer when the 2015 signees arrived, but most will take some time to develop.

Defensively, Tech MUST stay healthy for the most part, which has been a battle in recent seasons. Coach Gibbs has stated repeatedly he will rotate more players in and out of the defense than Tech has in recent seasons in an effort to keep players healthy and fresh.

A little luck would help, too.

End the Circus
Texas Tech has kept quiet this offseason. There hasn't been any dance offs or ice bucket challenges, media access, both locally and nationally, has been limited and players have kept quiet as the team tried to recover from the disappointing 2014 season, but more importantly, make sure it doesn't happen again.

From one of the top 2014 recruits fighting one of Tech's top female athletes, to former defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt being forced out, to the debacle in Fort Worth, to a duplicate jersey penalty almost costing a game, to a bizarre sideline infraction penalty also doing the same, to accusations of a disgruntled Wallerstedt giving away signals to opponents, to the fourth quarter collapse against West Virginia and on and on... it just seemed as if last season was cursed with one embarrassing moment after another for the program.

So far, it appears the low key strategy has worked and possibly changed momentum for the better. We'll know more on Sept. 5 when the Red Raiders open the season at home against Sam Houston State.

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