Heading into the 2008 season most Texas Tech Red Raider fans knew their squad would be a great team. Returning all-world Michael Crabtree, one of the most prolific passers in school history and a serviceable defense meant Tech could do something they never had before, which was win a Big 12 Conference championship. We all know how that ended — an unbelievable high against UT at home, followed by a beating over Oklahoma State and then a nightmare of a trip to Norman for a share of the Big 12 South. That season was one of Tech’s most successful of all-time.
I think the 2016 season could end up just like 2008, with that much success, and there are four main reasons why.
- Patrick Mahomes -- This is a no-brainer, right? He’s the best quarterback in the conference (sorry, Baker. I’ve seen that act in person and it’s not even close. Pat had better numbers surrounded by less talent). After a well-documented spring without baseball so he could focus on football, Pat will be better prepared than he was last year and has more playmakers around him. If the o-line can play decent — not great, just decent — Pat will have better numbers than he did last year. That should scare the rest of the league.
- Depth at WR — Last year we had Jakeem Grant who made things happen and rarely dropped a pass on third down. This year there is unbelievable height and depth outside, not to mention a great corps of inside receivers that all have big-game experience. Dylan Cantrell, Derrick Willies and T.J. Vasher will provide the height that Tech hasn’t had in a while. Willies will have 1,000 yards and 15 TDs this year. Take that to the bank. These receivers add up to an unstoppable force, much like Crabtree and Eric Morris were.
- Defensive line — I know what you’re thinking; no shot. It’s true, our line has been pretty bad (I’m being nice) for the past several years. We’ve had incredible recruits that came in on the defensive line and petered out quickly. In 2008 our line was serviceable with Colby Whitlock and company. They kept us in games and made big plays when needed. This will be the most talented defensive line Tech has had since then. Breiden Fehoko will take another step in his sophomore season, while Kolin Hill, Ondre Pipkins, Zach Barnes and Gary Moore and Tech has depth and talent. Have you watched Kolin Hill’s highlights from Notre Dame? Go do that. If the Tech defensive line can get pressure on the QB and plug gaps in the running game, something they haven’t been able to do for a while, this defense can be successful. This defensive line will get it done.
- Schedule -- As a Tech fan, I love even years. That means that Texas and OU come to Lubbock. Just like 2008, the tougher teams in the league have to make their way to West Texas to try and stop the Red Raider offense. With home games against UT, OU and WVU, three of the top five teams in the league that we’ll play have to play in the Jones. If we can get all three of those games played at night, I like our chances in every single one of those games.