It could be a weird season for Texas Tech in that the defense is edging closer to the offense in terms of reliability. Sure, that probably won’t fully happen under Kliff Kingsbury, but this may be the closest it’s ever going to be between the two groups. The Red Raiders managed a bowl Game last year, but still had a losing record at 6-7 after falling to USF. Their goal is to add another Big 12 win, and if not, may not be headed to a bowl Game. Their spring odds (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) weren’t much different than last year’s result with an over/under of six wins.
The first problem is that the offense loses the majority of its production. Kingsbury rarely has a bad offense, but there has to be some worry with this group that will employ two new co-offensive coordinators, Kevin Johns from Western Michigan and Clay McGuire from Washington State. McLAne Carter, last year’s backup, is expected to win the job, but that’s not guaranteed with Jett Duffey and freshman Alan Bowman also in the mix. The tools around quarterback are a bit unknown with the top returning receivers being T.J. Vasher (24 receptions, 461 yards) and Quan Shorts (eight receptions). Tre King is expected to slot in as the top running back (588 yards) with Da’Leon Ward possibly playing into a bigger role this spring. The line may be the best part of the offense with five players that have starting experience back to help. Finding more consistency on offense will be key, but it won’t be easy with so many new players
The good news is that the defense should be just as good as last year’s 31.8 points per Game allowed, which was good for Tech, despite allowing almost 280 passing yards per contest. With almost every relevant player returning (top nine tacklers), it’d be a disappointment if this group didn’t improve. The pass rush is the biggest part that has to see an uptick and that starts with Eli Howard getting more time. Everywhere else is about set outside of cornerback. Linebacker Dakota Allen is a pure playmaker and he gets help from Jordyn Brooks, while safety is stocked with experienced upperclassmen led by Jah’Shawn Johnson. This team is never known for having a decent defense, but that could change in 2018.
The best part of the Schedule may be that the Red Raiders only have to travel outside of Texas three times. That includes the opener in Houston against Ole Miss, a Game that opened as a pick ‘em. Similar to last year, Tech needs to win all three of its non-Conference Games because you never know how the Big 12 will play out. The Games against Kansas and Baylor need to be wins with that one against the Bears possibly being a must-win in the finale. Otherwise, the Raiders may need a road upset at Iowa State or Kansas State to surpass three Conference wins, assuming they don’t beat a team like WVU or Texas at home. If the offense can stay semi-elite with so many new options, that could lead to a safe season for Kingsbury. But expecting that to happen is a stretch with six wins the likelihood for this team once again.
2018 Texas Tech Red Raiders Football Schedule
Sept. 1 vs. Ole Miss (NRG Stadium, Houston)
Sept. 8 vs. LAmar
Sept. 15 vs. Houston
Sept. 22 at Oklahoma State
Sept. 29 vs. West Virginia
Oct. 11 at TCU
Oct. 20 vs. Kansas
Oct. 27 at Iowa State
Nov. 3 vs. Oklahoma
Nov. 10 vs. Texas
Nov. 17 at Kansas State
Nov. 24 vs. Baylor (AT&T Stadium, Arlington)