The Texas Tech Red Raiders are getting ready for Year 2 under Matt Wells. The expectations outside of Lubbock are pretty low, with the Red Raiders picked by the Big 12 media to finish 9th in the conference, only ahead of the Kansas Jayhawks. Plus, the Heartland College Sports Preseason All-Big 12 team only featured three Red Raiders.
I understand the case to be made for all eight teams to finish ahead of the Red Raiders in the upcoming season, however as we get closer to the season kicking off, I believe we are overlooking Texas Tech.
Let’s start with last season where the Red Raiders lost six of their eight games by 10 points or less and four by three points or less. A bounce here or there in 2019 and Texas Tech, playing without its starting quarterback in Alan Bowman for most of the season, is playing in a bowl game.
Fast forward to the upcoming season and the Red Raiders are returning a ton of pieces that are arguably being overlooked.
On defense, seven starters are back for the Red Raiders this season. Yes, the unit had its struggles last fall and loses a first round NFL Draft pick in Jordyn Brooks, but there is quality and experience coming back. Included in that bunch is the second-highest ranked cornerback in the Big 12 from last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Eli Howard should be one of the leaders on the defense after a 2019 campaign that included 21 tackles, six tackles for loss, a team-high five sacks and seven quarterback hurries.
Also one of the more underrated transfers of the offseason in the Big 12 was former four-star recruit and veteran safety Eric Monroe transferring from LSU to Texas Tech. The Red Raiders also got two big transfer additions at linebacker with Brandon Bouyer-Randle (Michigan State) and Jacob Morganstern (Duke). The key with these three transfers is that they weren’t just sitting on the bench at their previous programs, they played and were productive. Texas Tech won’t be their first time actually seeing live bullets at the Power 5 level. That should not be overlooked.
On offense, Alan Bowman is the projected starting quarterback and if he can stay healthy, this is a different team. Bowman did seem to struggle at times in Texas Tech’s new offense under Matt Wells, but that should not take away from the fact that after another offseason to learn the system, with the strong arm and quality play we’ve seen from him in the past, Alan Bowman when healthy can be a top-half of the Big 12 quarterback.
In the backfield, Texas Tech returns one of the most underrated skill position players in running back Sorodorick Thompson and we should not overlook the depth added with Alabama transfer Chadarius Townsend, who has two years of eligibility remaining and could also see some time at wide receiver, or if nothing else being a strong option as a receiver out of the backfield.
The offensive line certainly needs improvements, but the Red Raiders have a possible All-Conference lineman in Jack Anderson, plus other returning starters, along with Wofford transfer Josh Burger, who was a two-year starter and 2018 Honorable Mention All-American.
All in all, none of this means Texas Tech fans should be clearing the weekend of either December 12th or December 19th, when the Big 12 Championship game is going to be played. But it does mean that if this upcoming season clicks just right, the transfers surprise and the close games go the Red Raiders’ way this fall, maybe it’s Texas Tech who is upsetting a favorite or two in the conference and pushing their way to a finish in the top-half of the Big 12 Conference.
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