We’ve spent all off-season examining, critiquing, and dissecting this Texas Tech team and it’s time to reveal what we think this season will amount to. Don’t forget to put your prediction in the comment section.
For Texas Tech, this season can end with a trip to a bowl game if the team simply wins the games it's supposed to win, splits the toss-ups, and upsets one team. The most likely scenario, however, is Tech loses games its supposed to win and upsets teams it has no business beating. That kind of season rarely results in postseason success, and I see the Red Raiders, despite their improved defense, just missing a bowl appearance.
I’m an optimistic person, and really do believe this season will be different. The depth is stronger across the board, and the team is hungry to show last season was not the norm. Just like in 2015, the team will bounce back from a bad previous season. Everyone is worried about a new QB, but Tech used to thrive on 5th year senior generals that truly understand the offense. As great as Mahomes was, he tended to make plays, not execute them. Shimonek will prove his doubters wrong, and will put up decent numbers early, and then improve with staggering numbers as athe season goes on. A tough non-conference schedule will build character on a young defense, and the rewards will be seen later. I’m predicting that Tech finally beats OSU and is invited back to bowl season.
While doubters throughout the Texas Tech fan base believe it'll be worse this year than last, considering one of the hardest schedules in the FBS and the loss of 1st Rd pick, Patrick Mahomes, a new look defense and more efficient offense will help Tech enjoy a return to bowl contention and a winning season. Nik Shimonek will remind fans of the days of BJ Symons, Sonny Cumbie and Cody Hodges as all 5th year seniors had enormous success running the Air Raid in Lubbock. A new tandem of "Thunder in Lightning", Nisby and Stockton respectively, will allow the offense to not only move the ball between the 20's, but have greater Red Zone success. Nisby is going to wear down defensive lineman late in games and help Tech where they've needed it most, 3rd and short and goal-line to go.
The defense should be much improved as well. Gibbs, now in his 3rd year, has mentioned that he now has the personnel to compete with FBS offenses. The wholesale effort to recruit physical, ball-hawking defensive backs, big-fast linebackers and dominating defensive lineman should be noticeable even to the most average fan. The arrival of Vaughnte Dorsey, Jaylon Lane and the much hyped, Octavious Morgan will allow the secondary to attack running backs with size and balls at the point of attack instead of being on their heels and worrying about the tackle. Turnovers should increase this year in both interceptions and forced fumbles.
Special teams should also be a big point of improvement. With the arrival of Dominic Panazzolo, consistency at Punter should return to the likes we having seen since Ryan Erxleben and taking a break from all the blunders, botched snaps and shanked kicks we've seen over the last 2 seasons.
My common sense tells me that we finally have a reason to be optimistic on defense, and our offense will be more efficient. Given that, we should take care of business in the non-conference, and I don’t see a scenario we lose more than 6 games in conference. Keke Coutee will leave for the NFL, Dylan Cantrell will be considered a draft prospect, and Derrick Willies will flirt with 22 yards/catch. Also, the hype will have been warranted for Desmond Nisby. Defensively, we’ll be a turnover factory, and do enough to steal one game we shouldn’t. Kingsbury finally gets some swagger back, and we anxiously await the Jett Duffey reign in 2018.
I see Tech’s wins being Arizona State, Houston, Kansas, Iowa State and Baylor. This team and coaching staff have a lot to prove and the way the team has been constructed this season feels like a puzzle. Tech has included strong JUCOs, but who knows if they gel together. Nevertheless, I hope to see an immediate impact on defense with these additions. I'm worried this team isn’t holistic, but hopefully I'm pleasantly surprised. There are glaring shoes to fill especially with the shadows of Giles and Mahomes and not to mention the absolute priority of the offensive line improving. Due to the amount of transfers and de-commits, I am also worried about the mental strength of the team. And for that reason, I see Tech barely missing a bowl at best.
In my opinion our season record will be 6-6, and we'll get a Bowl berth. I am confident about Shimonek and I'm confident about the defense, that will make some forward steps that will allow us to go 3-0 off conference and win three Big 12 games to get us bowl eligible and back to playing in late December.
Earlier I wrote a fantasy article about Texas Tech winning the national championship, as fun as that was to dream about this year will be the exact opposite of that. There’s no doubt this defense is improved (mostly because you couldn’t be any worse), however with the departure of Mahomes and the Offensive Line struggles, I don’t see this team shocking the world. Every game (including Eastern Washington & Kansas) will be a tough game to win and we simply are not talented enough to make up for the difficult schedule. I am an optimistic guy, so my prediction will be higher than this team deserves.