Big 12 Sports Articles

Are the Texas Tech Red Raiders the Dark Horse of the Big XII?

Look out! The Red Raider hype train is plowing through West Texas with full steam. With an impressive 35-24 win over Arkansas, a proud member of the “illustrious” Southeastern Conference, Texas Tech has made their next two games very interesting. The #3 TCU Horned Frogs will visit Lubbock this week followed by a meeting in Arlington at AT&T Stadium vs. the #5 Baylor Bears. Before the season started, this early gauntlet of Arkansas, TCU and Baylor gave the impression that another disappointing season would be greeting me down the road. But, with the overall performance on Saturday in Fayetteville, I bought my ticket for the Pat Mahomes hype train.

In the first two games vs. Sam Houston State and UTEP, the Red Raiders were gashed on defense. Both on the ground and through the air the Tech defense gave up an average of 500 yards. So walking into Fayetteville to play a team that prides itself on the running game did not give me much hope that Texas Tech could stop them. And technically, I was not wrong. Tech’s defense gave up 424 total yards. Fortunately, the Red Raiders were efficient on offense and took advantage of turnovers.

Now, enough stats, let’s talk about what is so intriguing about this year’s Red Raiders. The confidence of sophomore quarterback Patrick Mahomes impressed many including National Champion, and now, second string quarterback Cardale Jones of the Ohio State Buckeyes. “Texas Tech QB, balled out tonight”, Jones wrote on Twitter. His poise behind a veteran offensive line resonates confidence and experience. He uses his athleticism well by knowing when to pass, throw it away, or escape the pocket and run for a first down or more. He seems to be a perfect fit for head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s scheme.

Speaking of Kingsbury, I’ve come to notice that both he and the team have been less ‘flashy’ and more business driven than in recent years. Not that ice bucket challenge videos are bad or having fun doesn’t build a team bond, but I really feel that the atmosphere has changed in the locker room. The team does not make the same mistakes over and over again. The coaching has improved tremendously. Although the defense still gives up a ton of yards, they hustle to the ball and know their roles so they can line up quickly. On offense, the team is disciplined. They use a fast tempo and an excellent balance of rushing and passing to leave the defense guessing. The team as a whole is playing as if they have a massive chip on their shoulder.

After the Arkansas game, coach Kingsbury had some choice words for Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema. Bielema had stated at a convention for Texas coaches, “if you don’t throw to the fullback, we’ll kick your ass, and if you throw it 70 times a game, we’ll kick your ass”.  Coach Kingsbury in a response to a question said, “He just got his ass kicked twice in a row and probably next week by A&M as well”. Coach Kliff is not just the ‘Head Coach’, he is the emotional leader of the team. I can’t wait to see this Texas Tech team rise as the dark house of the season.

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