Kansas welcomes the Texas Tech Raiders into Memorial Stadium this weekend for the kickoff to the Big 12 conference schedule. Based on the way the noncon schedule concluded there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of optimism from the Kansas side.
But how do Tech fans see this one? We did our customary exchange of questions with the SB Nation Texas Tech representative Double T Nation to get their perspective on this game, conference realignment and how things are settling in with Tommy Tuberville following a Manginolike coaching change two seasons ago.
To say the Kansas defense has struggled would be a bit of an understatement. That said it appears the Tech D has as well. That provides just a tiny tiny bit of hope for Kansas fans but are we being overly optimistic? Is the Tech defense struggling as much as it appears to be on paper?
Talk a little about Tech from an offensive perspective. We're not planning on stopping many people this year, but is there any weakness or reason to believe that Kansas can bend enough to stop the Tech offensive attack.
The one thing that Texas Tech fans can agree is that the offense has been very consistent and very efficient at scoring. I posted this earlier in the week, but with 17 redzone scoring opportunities the Red Raiders have come up with 16 touchdowns and 1 field goal. A big part of that was the fact that WR Darrin Moore was the big deep threat that the team lacked last year, but he'll be out for this week's game. So if Texas Tech struggles, it will be going down the field, which is something that QB Seth Doege struggled with last week as well (only 5.8 yards per attempt). The Texas Tech rushing attach has been pretty darned good and right now has a top 40 rushing attack, which is tough for some Red Raider fans to accept, but I do like the fact that the offense is capable of running the ball when necessary and thus far have been fairly successful doing so.
Tech is in year two of Tommy Tuberville, we're in year two of Gill. What would you say the feeling is surrounding your coach at this point? I'm curious to compare to our feelings.
There are still a lot of Texas Tech fans that have had a tough time accepting Tuberville, but I do like what he's done. He walked into a caustic situation and the team won 8 games last year in his first year. That's not easy. His first defensive coordinator was a dud and I do like the fact that he's making effort in hiring Chad Glasgow (TCU's secondary coach last year) and I do think that the 4-2-5 defense is something that I think that Texas Tech can recruit. This is going to be an incredibly tough year for all Big 12 teams as each school plays each other and so the record may not reflect the progress that fans want, but I do think he's got this headed on the right track.
Give us a player or two to watch on both sides of the ball that we might not have heard of and why?
WR Eric Ward is a redshirt sophomore who has has two excellent games, two touchdown in each of the last two games. He's a bigger receiver (6-0/200) and he's still a work-in-progress, but he's been awfully good the last two games. Defensively, I'll give you two. Texas Tech fans are really hoping that the return of DE Leon Mackey makes an impact on the field. He played essentially one quarter against Texas St. and was hurt with a deflated young, but he was a 4-star commit coming out of junior college (had previously committed to South Carolina) that doesn't look like the type of player that Texas Tech usually gets, i.e. BAMF. He's got an NFL body and potential and fans are hopeful he can make an impact.
It looks like the Tech defense is going to be picking up a few players returning off injury. Are they important enough to change the fortunes completely?
The aforementioned Mackey, but also returning is starter WS Cody Davis, the most experienced player on the defense and CB Tre' Porter is the starter cornerback. Porter is probably the teams most athletic player on the field and in their stead were two former walk-ons who just earned scholarships this past year, WS Brett Dewhurst and CB Eugene Neboh.
Pac12, Texas, realignment...what was the feeling in Lubbock during all the talk and what is the feeling now?
There were incredibly hopeful Texas Tech fans and thought that Texas Tech was on their way, but I had a feeling that the same thing that happened last year (UT looks like they're going to the Pac-12) would happen again. As you probably know, conference realignment-talk drives traffic to websites and its tiring to keep up with all of the rumors. I'll be glad when its over and I hope that the Big 12 keeps the remaining 9 teams, including Missouri and expand to 12 teams, maybe even 14 for a little bit of conference stability.
How do you see this one playing out?
High scoring, without a doubt. I think the Texas Tech offense is a bit better and more consistent, but I also think this one will be less than a touchdown.