Joey McGuire will take over as Texas Tech’s acting head coach after the AutoZone Liberty Bowl next Tuesday, but before that gets here, he needs to get his Christmas list in the mail. Actually, it’s probably not going to make it to the North Pole on this short of notice, so he’ll need to take it somewhere that he can priority overnight ship that thing.
What can we expect to be on that list? Well, I would’ve said Erik Ezukanma coming back for another year, but that ship sailed earlier today. With that being said, here are three things we expect Joey McGuire would love to get for Christmas going into 2022.
1. Zach Kittley Hits the Ground Running
The architect of the nation’s top passing offense now resides in Lubbock (man that sounds familiar), and he is coming off an astounding season at Western Kentucky. We’ve all heard about his quarterback, Bailey Zapee, setting the FBS single-season record for passing yards and touchdowns, but I bet you didn’t know how wide the margin was between first and second place this season. As a team, Western Kentucky threw for 6,072 yards in 2021; Virginia was second in the FBS at 4,711 yards through the air. The Hilltoppers also threw for 63 touchdowns; Alabama was second with 44. In case you were wondering, that is a margin of 1,361 yards and 19 touchdowns; There were 51 FBS schools that didn’t eclipse 19 passing touchdowns on the season. If he can get that kind of production out of whoever starts at quarterback for the Red Raiders in 2022, the sky is the limit for that offense.
2. One Quarterback Emerges in the Spring
The quarterback room at Texas Tech is deep going into 2022, assuming that Tyler Shough returns to play for Kittley. Shough, current starter and freshman Donovan Smith, and Elite 11 quarterback, and 2021 four-star Behren Morton will battle it out for the starting gig in 2022 and it should be a fun race to watch. Each player brings a different skill set to the table and I’m sure that Kittley is very pleased with his options. However, as the old adage goes, “if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one.” One of those guys needs to emerge as the clear-cut starter in Kittley’s system and allow the coaching staff to build around that guy moving forward. They don’t have to announce it, they don’t even have to discuss it until fall camp, but one of them needs to separate himself from the pack.
3. The 2022 Class Pays Immediate Dividends
Joey McGuire and his staff are going to sign one of the best classes in Texas Tech’s history when all is said and done in February. As it currently sits, 247Sports has the class ranked 39th nationally and it is rife with talent that could see the field almost immediately. Joseph Adedire, who flipped from TCU after Darnell Fitch came to Lubbock, is a guy that could contribute on day one with TTU. Broken Arrow, Oklahoma product Maurion Horn is as fast as anyone in the 2022 class and will certainly see the field a bunch next season. Landon Hullaby exhibits great ball skills and football knowledge out of high school and that could translate quickly in the back seven for Tech. There are several others in the class that could surprise some people, but Texas transfer Tyler Jones could have the highest ceiling of them all. If the defensive staff can find a way to utilize his speed (10.29 100m) and size (6’2″ 203 lbs) in the secondary it could be monumental for this team in 2021.
If Joey McGuire finds a way to get all three of his Christmas wishes to come true, Texas Tech could have the biggest turnaround of any team in the Big 12 next season. There is plenty to be excited about in 2022 if you are a member of Raider Nation.
Texas Tech takes on Mississippi State on December 28th in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. That game kicks off at 5:45 p.m. CT and the Mississippi State Bulldogs are currently favored by 9.5 points.