Kingsbury’s Fate is Undecided: The Ultimate Texas Tech Preview
It’s finally that time of year again: football season.
More specifically, college football season. It’s finally the time of year that we kick that diet to the side and no longer have to find excuses to over indulge in whatever your heart desires. As a Lubbock resident and Texas Tech fan, the season also brings that all too familiar feeling of hope, followed by doubt and inevitable heart break.
Here’s the facts: in five years as Texas Tech's head coach, Kingsbury’s best record was in 2013 when Tech finished 8-5 after a surprise bowl upset over number 14 Arizona State. Since the honeymoon first year, Kingsbury has averaged a cool five and a half wins per season with an overall record of 30-33.
As the start of the 6th season under Kliff of house Kingsbury, first of his name, coach of the Red Raiders and protector of the players, begins after a great anticipation, and with that uneasy feeling in the pit of our stomachs and doubt slowly creeping to the front of our minds, I picked every game in the Big 12, much like our very own Rob Breaux, and what I found was a relief.
With my self imposed over/under on how many games it takes for Kliff Kingsbury to keep his job set at 6.5, here is what my 'Ultimate 2018 Texas Tech Football Preview':
The Texas Tech defense is on the rise and has nowhere to go but up. 96% of the starting defensive lineup is returning. Only one defensive starter from 2017 left and that that was nose tackle Mychealon Thomas. The run defense may suffer in the beginning due to this loss, but don’t expect that hole to stay open long. As far as pass defense goes, the secondary is still stacked in Tech’s favor with Demarcus Fields, Jah’Shawn Johnson, Justus Parker and company all returning.
The extra points and field goal attempts should no longer bring closed eyes and held breaths followed by a moment of silence at the Jones. The people’s kicker Clayton Hatfield is back, and healthy, after missing most of last season due to injury, and we can expect him to do what he does best: make kicks.
Here’s where it gets a little hairy… During the off-season, Texas Tech lost 4 of its top 5 receivers: Keke Coutee and Dylan Cantrell were taken in the NFL draft. Fellow recievers Cameron Batson and Derrick Willies were picked up as undrafted free agents along with quarterback Nic Shimonek and leading rusher Justin Stockton.
The turnover at the skill positions leads to a brand new question in a Lubbock preseason during the Kingsbury Era: How will the offense perform this year?
Well, there are currently three QB’s battling for the starting job: true freshman Alan Bowman, sophomore Jett Duffey, and the awkward-to-watch lefty McLane Carter.
Now, we all saw Carter flop in his surprise start over Shimonek in the win over Texas last year, but he has had an entire off-season to better learn the offense and hone his skills. If I had to make a pick, I would say Carter will be the starting QB going into the season.
This is one that we are just going to have to trust Kingsbury. Last year he was asked time and time again when he would pull Shimonek and start someone else. His response was always “I think Nic is still our best option at the QB position”, and he proved himself right by throwing in Carter against the Longhorns.
We will find out September 1st who he has picked, and until then, trust the process.
As far as wide receivers go, look for T.J. Vasher to become the go-to guy as he should be able to match Coutee’s explosiveness and become more consistent than he was last year.
This finally brings us to my prediction on the Texas Tech Red Raiders season:
First off, this was way more difficult to do than I thought it was going to be.
With West Virginia and Iowa State leading a new look Big 12, Texas Tech will finish 7-5 in a wide open year where every game will be down to the wire.
If Texas Tech can't start strong this week, don’t let a loss against Ole Miss discourage you, because Tech will become bowl eligible once again this year, and if my predictions hold true, we will see at least one more year under Kliff Kingsbury.
So sit back, relax and grab a drink, because winter is coming and so are your Red Raiders.