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Monday Matador Mailbag 3.28.16

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The Mailbag answers all your burning Texas Tech questions and more

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

SERIOUS QUESTIONS:

Mark, there definitely are a lot fewer seniors on the roster for the Red Raiders, although I'm not sure that it's a bad thing. It's going to for some young guys into the fire early, but the hottest fire makes the strongest steel and all those other platitudes. I think our younger guys have a pretty good handle on leadership based on what we're hearing about Patrick Mahomes out of Spring Football.

2017 could go quite a few ways. On one hand, we could show some real defensive improvement in the second year of David Gibbs's system. We have a great quarterback coming back in Patrick Mahomes, and while we'll miss the gamebreaking abilities of Jakeem Grant and DeAndre Washington, we have some young guys like Ian Sadler and Justin Stockton who have the capability to make big plays as well.

I think we'll be fine on offense, a little bit improved on defense, but my main question is with our Offensive Line. If the O-Line can gel and work well together, it could be a record breaking year for an already dominant Offensive unit. I'm predicting 7-5 or 8-4, but I don't think we get blown out in any games. I'm of the opinion that 2017 will be a great year for us, but 2016 should be a solid year as well.

As for baseball, I'm unsure. Our baseball guys tell me that this is a great young squad, and I defer to their knowledge. Personally, I think we make some form of postseason competition provided we keep playing the way we did this past weekend against Oklahoma.

Our defensive X-Factor is without a doubt our defensive line. Our secondary is bolstered by Keenon Ward, Jah'Shawn Johnson, Tevin Madison, and Nigel Bethel. Our young linebackers D'vonta Hinton and Dakota Allen show real promise, and should replace Micah Awe very well. On the D-Line, we'll have to play many young players. Houston Miller's stats are very promising, but time will tell how fast he makes the transition. We're going to depend on Freshmen and Sophomores to make an impact. I'm not saying that they won't, but that they're the biggest unknown on a defense that's full of potential but has yet to make the splash we expect.

As far as Freshmen making an impact, I know I just kind of doubted Houston Miller earlier, but this dude is the real deal. I'm really high on his down-the-road potential, but he also has the talent to come in and make a splash immediately. In the limited Hudl highlights that he has, he's all over the field. It's a coaching cliche, but the kid has a really high motor, and I think that's what we need on our defensive front immediately.

My realistic expectations for Willies are for him to come in and make a few plays, but we'll have to wait until 2018 for his full potential. He's out this spring, and that's a key point in time to develop that connection with the quarterback that a dominant receiver needs. Based on him missing some of that time, and me not wanting to anoint him as the second coming of Randy Moss just yet, I'll say he has a very good 2016 that leads into a great 2017.

I might be in the minority here, but I think our best shot is next season. The Big XII is losing a lot of star power next year, and I think that we can really challenge some of those perennial top teams. That core will still be around in 2017, but the old statement about striking when the iron is hot rings true. The entire team sans Gotcher and Williams return in 2016, and the Big XII is primed for a dark horse to take a run at the title.

TYRONE SWOOPES WILL ASCEND TO NEW HEIGHTS UNKNOWN TO MERE MORTALS.

It's very difficult pick an answer to this question. The logical side of me wants to pick Baker Mayfield, as the Sooners seem to always find those glue-handed receivers who can really run after the catch, and the fact that Baker Mayfield has turned out to be a pretty good quarterback in his own right.

The believer in me wants to say Patrick Mahomes, for the sole reason that the kid is a dang playmaker. This isn't a rose-colored glasses argument, Mahomes can break a game wide open at any given time with his escapability and cruise missile of an arm. I say believer because sometimes there's only two things you can do while watching Patrick Mahomes: throw your arms up in exasperation, exclaiming, "HE CAN'T POSSIBLY DO THAT AGAIN", or sit back and simply believe.

The underdog lover in me wants to say Seth Russell, not because Baylor is an underdog, but coming back from back surgery sounds like every single bad Disney movie about football. The hero has a minor setback for the major comeback. Seth Russell is a good dude, and I would like him to succeed on every single day but one.

In the end, my bias is too much, and I pick Mahomes. While I previously said that Baker appears to my logical side, Mahomes does too. He has the tangibles and intangibles. Strive For Honor, Wreck Everything Patty Ice.

SILLY QUESTIONS:

Picking a Shakespearan character for Tubby Smith is difficult because he doesn't really fit the "Shakespearean Fool" archetype that is used ad nauseum in all of his works. In the end, I have to go with Sir John Falstaff from Henry IV, Part I, not because of the whole vagabond demeanor, but due to his work raising up Prince Harry. If there is anything Tubby Smith is, he's a father figure to young men at a critical point in their lives, and Falstaff is one of Shakespeare's only characters who fit that description.

NOT YOU MASON THAT'S FOR SURE.

I kid, I kid. The Frogs O' War staff is great, and just about everyone around the SBN Big XII Twittersphere is a great follow.