Kliff Kingsbury is off to the NFL, but the guy that Texas Tech brought in to replace him is someone that has been bubbling up the G5 ranks for a few years now, Utah State’s Matt Wells. It will be a big culture change, from Kingsbury’s high-powered offense to Wells’ more defensive-minded approach, but Wells has a great QB to work around in Alan Bowman (8.1 YPA, 69.4%, 17 TDs vs seven INTs), and a bowl run feels possible in year one.
Bowman is the key to the offense, but the losses of leading receivers Antoine Wesley and Ja’Deion High will hurt. The hole they have left will try to be filled by last year’s #3 and 4, TJ Vasher and Seth Collins, as well as Nevada transfer McLane Mannix, who has torn up Mountain West defenses for 1,653 yards on a 15.4 yard per catch average the past two years.
All three backs with over 300 yards return, but none were particularly productive, the best being Jett Duffey at 4.7 yards per carry. Utah transfer Armand Shyne joins the team and speedy sophomore Ta’Zhawn Henry should improve after showing flashes as a freshman.
The line returns six guys with significant starting experience including all-conference guard Jack Anderson. Despite the losses in the receiving corps, this offense may improve, although the per-game numbers probably won’t as Wells will likely play at a slower pace.
Texas Tech’s defense has been a joke recently, but they have improved the past two years, and I think it’s likely to improve even further as Wells helped build Utah State into a great defensive squad with Mountain West talent alongside coordinator Keith Patterson last year, and Patterson is following Wells to Lubbock.
Four of the top six tacklers from last year are gone, but they return some interesting names, including a veteran leader at each level in guard Broderick Washington (three sacks, four TDL), ILB Jordyn Brooks (three sacks, 4.5 TFL), and corner Damarcus Fields (11 PBUs).
Stud safety Adrian Frye was one of the most productive freshmen in the country last year (13 PBUs, five INTs) and I think he has another great year in back.
Wells and Patterson will also be able to take advantage of a couple of new pieces, Minnesota transfer Adam Beck at nickel, Cal transfer Evan Rambo at end, and Penn State transfer Zech McPhearson at corner. I feel great about the coaching staff and the talent on this defense, and I think this will be Texas Tech’s best defense since at least 2013.
This team feels very under the radar to me, and while the model has them at just 5.5 wins on average because of the staff disruption, I think they have a very high ceiling. Now, because of what will likely be a huge culture and scheme change the floor will be low too, but I think I’d take the over on the 5.5 mark that the computer projected.
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Average Projected Record: 5.5 wins, 6.5 losses (3.3 wins, 5.7 losses)