Last year Central Arkansas rolled into Lubbock and many were expecting the game to go as usual against a FCS opponent. Texas Tech puts up 40 to 50 points, sits most of their starters in the 4th quarter and holds Central Arkansas to a few TDs, right? That was not the case last year. Tech went into half only up 21-16, I'm sure many like myself expected the Red Raiders to come out in the second half and pull away but that didn't happen. Central Arkansas hung around all game and were never down by more than 14, Tech ended up holding on with the 42-35 win. This year the Red Raiders look to avoid this near upset of the decade again when Sam Houston comes to Lubbock this year.
Result: Did not play in 2014
SHSU 2014 Record: 11-5
Where: Lubbock, TX
SHSU Key Returners: #15 QB Jared Johnson (999 rush yards, 6 TDs, 3,054 pass yards, 21 TDs), #92 DE PJ Hall (93 tackles, 24 TFL, 10.5 Sacks), #22 LB Tristan Eche (108 tackles, 5 sacks)
Key Matchup: Can Texas Tech contain Jared Johnson?
The last time the Red Raiders and Bear Kats met in 2005 Tech won 80-21. Now, if we were to replicate that this coming season I'm pretty sure everyone would be perfectly fine with that outcome. I hate to say it but I don't see Tech winning by 59 points this time. Sam Houston is a FCS powerhouse nowadays and went all the way to the semi-finals last year before losing to eventual national champs, North Dakota State (those guys always win).
SHSU's offense is powered by quarterback Jared Johnson. Johnson put up really nice numbers last year, literally rushing 1 yard shy of 1,000 yards and throwing for over 3,000. He is a true dual-threat quarterback and Texas Tech will face a test in their first game against him. The Bear Kats had a 4-headed running back committee last year in which Johnson was the 2nd leading rusher. The team's leading rusher, Keshawn Hill, graduated but they do return the 3rd and 4th leading rushers in Jalen Overstreet (729 yds) and Donavan Williams (658 yds). LaDarius Brown is SHSU's lead returning wide receiver and looks to build off of last year in which he had 45 catches for 807 yards and a team-high 7 TDs. The Red Raiders will face a balanced offensive attack and it should provide us with a good look on how we scheme against a high-powered offense even if they are at the FCS level.
On Sam Houston's defensive side of the ball they return stud freshmen PJ Hall and senior two-year lettermen, Tristan Eche. PJ Hall had an amazing freshmen year for SHSU last year. The standout defensive end had 93 total tackles and 10.5 sacks. Playing behind Hall is Sam Houston's returning leader in tackles, linebacker Tristan Eche. Eche had 108 total tackles last year accompanied with 5 sacks. Playing along side Eche is another outstanding linebacker, Myke Chatman, who had 95 total tackles. Just as I expect Sam Houston's offense to provide Tech's defense with a true test, I also believe SHSU's defense provides our offense with a test as well. Sam Houston is no FCS pushover and I believe this game could be tight for the most part. If we win by 14+ I would be completely fine with that.
Why I worry
Sam Houston State is a complete team. They have a well balanced offense lead by a dual-threat quarterback who can pass for 250 yards and run for 100 yards all in the same game. They have a solid running game and have two capable backs to carry the load so there's a good chance one of them will always have fresh legs. SHSU's defense is stout and returns 3 of the team's top 4 tacklers from last year.
Why I don't worry
They're Sam Houston State, right? Many of the players at the FCS level are transfers from FBS schools or weren't highly recruited out of high school. Logic tells us that Texas Tech is more talented and should walk away with the win without any concerns of losing. The Red Raiders' offense will come out looking to show that they are improved and should have a nice team chemistry built up going into the season. Tech's defense should be biting at the nail for the first matchup of the year and will be looking to show everyone that they are a changed unit.