Here is everything you need to know about the Red Raiders home opener in our Texas Tech vs. Eastern Washington preview.
3 pm CT | Saturday, September 2nd, 2017 | Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX
TV: FOX Sports Network (Brendan Burke, David Anderson, Christian Steckel)
Radio: Double T 97.3, Texas Tech Sports Network (Brian Jensen, John Harris, Chris Level)
Satellite Radio: Sirius (132), XM (199)
Other Broadcasts: Tune-In Radio (EWU broadcast) and FOX Sports Go App
Texas Tech Red Raiders
QB Nic Shimonek
He’s a transfer from Iowa who sat behind Patrick Mahomes the past few seasons. It will be the first time Kliff Kingsbury starts a senior quarterback since Kingsbury was named head coach in December 2012. Although he has little experience, Shimonek features amazing numbers. Out of 58 pass attempts, he has completed 38 with six being for touchdowns. Only one of those 58 pass attempts have been intercepted. His completion ratio is over 65 percent. Shimonek is known to be an intelligent, hard-worker who is persistent. While walking on to Tech, he opened up his own furniture restoration business.
LB Dakota Allen
He doesn’t want the show to be about him, but Allen will be in the spotlight all season as he makes his long-awaited return to the Texas Tech defense. After being charged for burglary of a habitat with two players who never returned, Allen wound up playing at East Mississippi Community College. For those who don’t know, that is widely known as “Last Chance U”. In 2015, Allen ranked second in tackles as a redshirt freshman with 87 during his first stint in Lubbock. The defense has dearly missed Allen. If the worst-ranked rushing defense is to find any improvement at all, it starts with Allen.
RG Jack Anderson
He was committed to Texas Tech for years. Now, the 6-foot-5, 320 pound mammoth from Frisco, who spurned multiple national championship contenders for Tech, will start as a freshman on an inexperienced line. Anderson will be one of the biggest keys to the offense’s success this year. He was ranked 42nd on the ESPN 300 list and participated in the Under Armour All-American Game. He will start over senior Dwayne Johnson Jr. Facing an FCS team whose won three games over FBS schools will be a good warm-up for a future NFL prospect.
S Jah’Shawn Johnson
Eastern Washington likes to score, and they score a lot. They have a high-octane offense that outscored a Mike Leach Washington State team one year ago. That same Washington State team was in the thick of a Pac-12 North Division race by season’s end. Tech is considered to have a much worse defense. Johnson is the most experienced player in the back eight of a 3-4 defense for Tech, especially in the secondary. The 5-foot-10, 185 pounder will need to be a leader and help out with two JUCO transfers and a sophomore as the Red Raiders last resort on the defense. Don’t be surprised if the Eagles try to pick on him for his size.
Eastern Washington Eagles
QB Gage Gubrud
He is the 2016 FCS Player of the Year and broke the FCS record for passing yards in a season with 5,160. As if that weren’t enough, he’s got some wheels too. He led Eastern Washington with 605 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. Texas Tech has struggled against this type of quarterback since the Mike Leach days. Look for Gubrud to raise his draft stock as he lead an inexperienced offense to a 12-2 record one season ago. Now, this same offense returns 10 starters.
TE Henderson Belk
Whatever side this tight end is on, will be the side Texas Tech’s defense tries to expose. Belk is the only inexperienced starter on the offensive side of the ball, and his back-up only has one start under his belt. One wrong route or missed blocking assignment may be the difference in this game.
RB Antoine Custer Jr.
He may be a sophomore with only six starts on a passing offense, but Tech’s defense was the worst in the nation when it came to stopping the run. Any starting running back on any offense is a key starter against the Red Raiders until Tech’s defense proves otherwise. Custer Jr. finished with 416 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman in 2016. The entire offensive line returns.
DE Albert Havili
Eastern Washington must replace Samson Ebukam, who recorded nine sacks one season ago. Havili is the man for the job. Only Ebukam had more sacks than Havili’s 5.5 in 2016. He also secured 6 tackles for a loss and 23 solo tackles. If Eastern Washington is to make any stops to the reloaded Texas Tech offense, it will come in the trenches. Eastern Washington will need to disrupt the offensive line and place pressure on Shimonek.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
It’s a new era at Texas Tech. Patrick Mahomes is now in the NFL and Nic Shimonek is the first senior to take a snap for Kliff Kingsbury. Shimonek will have two returning starters on the line, but plenty of weapons elsewhere including receivers Keke Coutee and Dylan Cantrell plus running back Justin Stockton. It also marks the return of Dakota Allen, who was kicked off the team during the spring semester of 2016. Allen’s departure added to the already pitiful attrition rate on Texas Tech’s defense.
Eastern Washington Eagles
Can they do it again? Eastern Washington has a 3-4 record against FBS teams since 2012. This includes victories over Oregon State and Washington State. Although Eastern Washington has a new head coach, Aaron Best has been with Eastern Washington for all but one season since 1996.
Texas Tech 63 Eastern Washington 56
Kliff Kingsbury is 5-0 in season openers, but they have come against creampuffs. Eastern Washington is not a creampuff, but they’re not a rushing team either. Tech’s defense can actually stop the passing game, and Eastern Washington is not as talented as Texas Tech. Sure, the Eagles can definitely pull off the upset. They will make this a close game. It will feature lots of scoring and several breathtaking passes. In the end, talent will triumph and the Red Raiders will be 1-0.
**If you want a chance to win FREE Big 12 gear from your favorite team, be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter! **