The Texas Tech Red Raiders are going through one of the most successful stretches ever in their athletic program. After a men’s basketball National Runner-Up finish, another College World Series appearance, and a men’s track and field national championship, it’s safe to say that 2019 has indeed been the year of the Red Raider.
With football around the corner, will Matt Wells continue the unprecedented success? In all likelihood the answer is no. But this does not mean that there is no hope for this football program in 2019.
As usual, the Red Raiders will roll out a quarterback that can light up a stat sheet. Alan Bowman took little time to make an impression with Red Raider fans last season. After an ankle injury to then starter, McLane Carter, Bowman stepped in and proved his worth after lighting up the Houston Cougars for 605 yards and five touchdowns.
There is no doubt that there is another star behind center in Bowman, and if the sophomore can stay healthy this season then the Red Raiders will be difficult to stop on offense. With experienced star receivers such as T.J. Vasher, Seth Collins, and Kesean Carter the receiving corps will prove to be dynamic in David Yost’s offense. If the newcomer, McLane Mannix, from Nevada can be as productive as he was in a Wolf Pack uniform then this receiving unit will have another dangerous weapon at the slot position.
A new scheme
Texas Tech has struggled on defense for a long time and this might be the worst kept secret in college football. While previous defensive coordinator, David Gibbs, made strides in the right direction, Keith Patterson will bring a new look to the Red Raider defense.
We’ve seen similar defenses play against the Red Raiders and they have had success in the pass-happy Big 12. Firstly, look at the Iowa State Cyclone defense. The Cyclones were 33rd in total defense after last season and before Matt Campbell got to Ames in 2016, the Cyclones were 108th in total defense in 2015. The Cyclones have been great against pass-happy offenses since Matt Campbell’s arrival and Keith Patterson will look to run a similar style for the Red Raiders. Since 2013, the Red Raiders’ best finish in total defense is 85th and they haven’t cracked the top 100 since finishing 85th in that 2013 season.
While there will be a new scheme, expect the Texas Tech defense to continue forcing turnovers at a high rate. Last year, Keith Patterson’s defense at Utah State led the country with 32 turnovers forced. The Red Raider defense rested its hat on forcing turnovers under David Gibbs, but Tech only forced 18 turnovers last year, which was a large drop-off from the 29 turnovers forced in 2017. If Keith Patterson and Matt Wells can get this defense back to forcing turnovers, then the Red Raider defense could look entirely different from the last few years.
Coach Wells has a tough job ahead of him, but the talent, support, and facilities are in Lubbock right now. The looming question will be how quick can Matt Wells steer this program in the right direction? It’s hard to not have high expectations after the trajectory of the entire athletic department, but I believe Kirby Hocutt made the right hire and we are here for the ride.