Texas Tech will try to get the season started on the right note next week. The Red Raiders are headed to The Star in Frisco, Texas, for Big 12 media days on Monday.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury addresses the media at 11:15 a.m. CT on Monday. Texas Tech will also bring wide receivers KeKe Coutee, Cameron Batson, Dylan Cantrell and defensive back Jah’Shawn Johnson.
Here are the key Texas Tech storylines and questions to keep an eye on throughout the week.
How the heck does Texas Tech replace Pat Mahomes II?
Though Mahomes started just two seasons, he became one of the most beloved players in program history. In two years, Mahomes threw for 9,705 yards and 77 touchdowns. He made Davis Webb – a future third-round NFL draft pick – irrelevant by his true sophomore year. But despite his performance, the Red Raiders weren’t great last year. Without Mahomes at the helm, now what?
What are expectations for the year?
Texas Tech missed a bowl game last year for the second time in four seasons. It was a disappointing year, especially considering Mahomes left to become a top-10 NFL draft pick. Before Kingsbury, Tech had missed one bowl this millennium. The defense is not any better, and the offense lost many of its top pieces. It’s unclear where the wins will come from this season, especially considering all non-conference games are losable.
How does Kingsbury feel about his job security?
Kingsbury, the personality, is beloved in Lubbock, but his on-field performance is starting to get old. He won his first seven games after being hired. Since then, the Red Raiders are 17-26. If he can make a bowl game, maybe Kingsbury buys another year. With games against Houston, Arizona State and Eastern Washington, who knows if they can.
Will the defense finally take a step?
Texas Tech fired defensive coordinators several years in a row, but finally settled on former Auburn and Houston defensive coordinator David Gibbs. Gibbs was successful at both of his other stops, but the defense remained horrific at Texas Tech. Last season, Texas Tech ranked No. 125 out of 128 teams in defensive S&P+ per Football Outsiders.
Are the Red Raiders prepared for non-conference?
Texas Tech has one of the tougher non-conference schedules in the Big 12. There isn’t a signature opponent, but all three teams could win. First, it’s Eastern Washington. The Eagles beat Wazzu on the road last season, so they are no pushover. Then, Blake Barnett and Arizona State waltz into town. The coach who loses this game is firmly on the hot seat. Finally, Houston might not have Tom Herman, but Ed Oliver and Kyle Allen are plenty good. It doesn’t help that Tech travels to face them. It’s a Herculean task for a team desperately fighting for a bowl game.