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Today at No. 85: TEXAS TECH Coach: Kliff Kingsbury (12-13, entering third season; 12-13 overall) 2014 record: 4-8, 2-7 in the Big 12 Conference;...

vrs125an (1)125XBANNER#1Today at No. 85: TEXAS TECH

Coach: Kliff Kingsbury (12-13, entering third season; 12-13 overall)

2014 record: 4-8, 2-7 in the Big 12 Conference; eighth in Big 12

Look back: There’s no denying Kliff Kingsbury’s impact on the Texas Tech program. During his first season as coach the Red Raiders won eight games. However the program suffered from a sophomore slump of sorts last season. Injuries and inconsistent play on both sides of the ball contributed to Texas Tech failing to win more than four games in a season for the first time since 1990.

Offensive starters returning: 8

Offensive starters lost: 4

Defensive starters returning: 7

Defensive starters lost: 5

Key losses: WR Bradley Marquez, NT Jackson Richards, DT Demetrius Alston, LB V.J. Fehoko, LB Sam Eguavoen, LB Austin Stewart

Top returnees: RB DeAndre Washington, WR Jakeem Grant, QB Patrick Mahomes, C Jared Kaster, LT Le’Raven Clark, LG Alfredo Morales, RG Baylen Brown, DE Pete Robertson, DE Branden Jackson, CB Nigel Bethel II, CB Justis Nelson, S J.J. Gaines

Strengths: Since Kingsbury’s arrival in 2013, the Red Raiders averaged more than 500 yards per game in total offense. Davis Webb started the first eight games last season, earning the starting job after a strong freshman season in 2013. Webb passed for 2,539 yards, 24 touchdown and 13 interceptions before a shoulder injury sent him to the sidelines for the rest of the season. Freshman Patrick Mahomes was stellar in relief, passing for 1,547 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. His performance forced Kingsbury and his staff to open up the position to a competition between the two players.

DeAndre Washington became the first Texas Tech player to rush for at least 1,000 yards in a season since 1998 after rushing for 1,103 yards in 2014. The offensive line returns four of its five starters from last season and will anchored by senior Jared Kaster, who started all 12 games last season at center.

Weaknesses: The defense took a major step backward in 2014, ranking near the bottom of the country in points allowed (41), rushing defense (259 yards allowed per game) and total defense (512 yards allowed per game). Former Houston defensive coordinator David Gibbs was brought in with hopes of creating a more opportunistic defensive unit that could force more turnovers, a feat he achieved with the Cougars during the past two seasons. Last season, the Red Raiders only forced 15 turnovers, including a league-worst six interceptions.

Outlook: Texas Tech needs to limit quarterback mistakes. Twenty-two of the team’s 28 turnovers last season came from Webb and Mahomes, so improvement is crucial at that position. Experience on the defensive side of the ball should help Gibbs improve a defense desperate to limit big plays.

2015 SCHEDULE

Sept. 5 Sam Houston State

Sept 12 UTEP

Sept. 19 at Arkansas

Sept. 26 TCU

Oct. 3 Baylor

Oct. 10 Iowa State

Oct. 17 at Kansas

Oct. 24 at Oklahoma

Oct. 31 Oklahoma State

Nov. 7 at West Virginia

Nov. 14 Kansas State

Nov. 26 at Texas

Vincent Rizzo

College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com

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