What a roller coaster that 2021 has been for this program.
Heading into the season not really knowing what to expect after getting a few key guys in the transfer portal, this team had its hopes set high on making a return to a bowl game and finishing the year off with a winning record.
After the season started off with a win against a good Houston team that would only lose to Cincinnati the rest of the season, a few bumpy wins against non-conference opponents that we should’ve handled with ease set us up for some tough losses.
Matt Wells unfortunately couldn’t weather the storm, with the final straw being Kansas State coming back and beating us in another game that we should’ve won. He was let go and the season seemed all but over.
Enter Joey McGuire, who seemed to have this program on the rise the moment he was announced as the Head Coach. The win against Iowa State and then eventually the win against Mississippi State put the icing on the cake of what turned out to be a good season overall for the team.
With the future looking ever so bright, we’re going to look at a few things to look forward to heading into the new year for this program that seems to be on the rise.
The Quarterback Room Being in Good Shape
Despite not ending up with Quinn Ewers, the Texas Tech quarterback room hasn’t looked this good since Patrick Mahomes was here.
We have a promising young guy in Donovan Smith, who can improve as a passer this offseason and certainly come back to lead this offense into the future. We also have Tyler Shough, who was starting and looking good before injuries forced him to miss the remainder of the season. Besides those two there’s also Behren Morton who showed plenty coming out of high school and will eventually get his chance to show that it’s his team.
My guess is that it will be Smith and Shough battling it out in Spring, and whoever comes out of that with the job will be able to run this new offense under Zach Kittley and put up some explosive performances. Either one of those guys is exciting and as much as it sucked that Shough was injured I think that getting Smith out there and letting him develop into the guy that he is today was key for this program.
Wide Receiver Position is Still Loaded with Talent
Losing Erik Ezukanma to the draft is going to be a huge loss for this program as EZ took up a lot of the attention from opposing defenses with how great he was. However the guys that still remain here are more than capable of filling those shoes at some point and will have plenty of chances to prove that.
The thing that I like the most out of this position is that now with the signings of Brady Boyd and Joshua Moore this group has plenty of diversity with what these guys can do. Moore and Boyd are fast guys, and Boyd has incredible hands and is able to track the ball in the air so well.
The guys that were already here are also going to be fun to watch. J.J Sparkman, Loic Fouonji, Myles Price, Trey Cleveland and Jerand Bradley are all going to find playing time in this offense, with Sparkman and Bradley being the two that I am most excited to see have an impact with their size now that EZ is gone.
We realistically have seven guys with experience (I’m not sure if Kaylon Gieger has anymore eligibility, but if he does then make that eight) that I trust to be able to help this offense be just as explosive as it was when Kittley was at Western Kentucky.
Defense Under Tim DeRuyter
One guy that has gotten lost in all of the excitement of the new staff is Defensive Coordinator Tim DeRuyter. I’m planning on doing a more in-depth article about him as well as Kittley but it seems like everyone is excited about this new offense when we’re getting a proven Defensive Coordinator as well.
He turned around Cal’s defense from one of the worst to a consistent top-40 defense in the nation. Then in his one year at Oregon he helped them improve from a year ago as well.
The basics on DeRuyter is that he ran a 3-4 base defense last season and went to a 4-2-5 front pretty consistently against Ohio State with their dangerous offense. He likes to disguise his coverages quite frequently and brings pressure from everywhere.
I’m looking forward to what he will bring and am excited to watch the tape on his defenses and see what he likes to do.