2013 Texas Tech football's 10 things to know: Hello again, fun

USA TODAY Sports

New Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury has probably already been embraced by a larger portion of the fanbase than Tommy Tuberville ever was. Now we have to find out if he can coach. Fun comes back to Lubbock in 2013; will wins follow in a brutally deep Big 12? For more Red Raiders, visit Texas Tech site Viva the Matadors.

Confused? Check out the glossary here.

1. Welcome back, fun

It's not like the Tommy Tuberville era was bad. Texas Tech went to (and won) two bowls in three years and went 21-17; those certainly aren't awful marks for a program that, for instance, went to two bowls and had just four winning seasons from 1979-92. And it's not like Mike Leach left the cupboard filled to the brim with breakthrough talent. You can do a lot worse than Tuberville did from 2010-12 at Tech, and he should do just fine now that he's left for Cincinnati.

That said ... the three years following Leach's departure from Lubbock just weren't very much fun for Texas Tech fans. A good portion of the fanbase thought Leach's dismissal was beyond unfair -- I shared that sentiment -- and despite some solid wins (41-38 over No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman in 2011, 49-14 over No. 5 West Virginia in 2012), every step forward was met with an equal step backwards (start 5-2 in 2011, finish 0-5; start 6-1 in 2012, finish 2-4), and for better or worse, Tuberville was just never completely accepted in West Texas. The bad feelings from the end of the Leach era never completely subsided.

Safe to say the new guy has already been accepted with open arms, and he hasn't even coached a game yet. When Tuberville left for Cincy, Tech replaced him with Kliff Kingsbury, former Red Raiders quarterback and, as of last year, star offensive coordinator for Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. Kingsbury played under Leach, studied under Dana Holgorsen and Kevin Sumlin, and comes back to Lubbock with all of the buzz and prowess you could hope for from a coach who won't turn 34 years old until right before the coming season starts.

And he's fun. Score-a-lot-of-points-and-slap-your-boss-on-the-ass fun. That can't hurt.

You never, ever know how an assistant will handle life with the big whistle around his neck, but one has to assume that Kingsbury will be given quite a bit of leeway in ways that Tuberville was not. This wasn't a "Yeah, we screwed up" hire -- this wasn't Auburn hiring Gus Malzahn -- but the fact that Tech managed to hire a hot, young assistant whose presence also mends some fences that had gone up between Tech fans and Tech administrators was certainly a best-of-all-worlds situation. Now we just have to see if he can coach.

2012 Schedule & Results

Record: 8-5 | Adj. Record: 9-4 | Final F/+ Rk: 45
Date Opponent Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L
1-Sep Northwestern State 44-6 W 23.5 - 3.6 W
8-Sep at Texas State 58-10 W 41.6 - 17.7 W
15-Sep New Mexico 49-14 W 38.5 - 10.4 W
29-Sep at Iowa State 24-13 W 26.1 - 14.3 W
6-Oct Oklahoma 20-41 L 27.1 - 22.7 W
13-Oct West Virginia 49-14 W 49.6 - 15.0 W
20-Oct at TCU 56-53 W 39.3 - 34.5 W
27-Oct at Kansas State 24-55 L 34.2 - 34.9 L
3-Nov Texas 22-31 L 29.2 - 34.0 L
10-Nov Kansas 41-34 W 31.2 - 32.0 L
17-Nov at Oklahoma State 21-59 L 28.3 - 32.1 L
24-Nov vs. Baylor 45-52 L 40.8 - 27.8 W
28-Dec vs. Minnesota 34-31 W 40.7 - 31.0 W
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Points Per Game 37.5 20 31.8 91
Adj. Points Per Game 34.6 22 23.8 27

2. Lost it like a set of keys

It's easy to forget, but midway through the 2012 season, there was a different narrative brewing in Lubbock. Not only was Texas Tech good, the Texas Tech defense was doing really, really well. The Red Raiders allowed an average of 160 yards and 10 points per game against an admittedly cakey non-conference slate, but then allowed just 189 yards to Iowa State and a respectable 380 to Oklahoma. (Turnovers were deadly against OU, but the defense still held up for the most part.) And the masterpiece came on October 13, when a West Virginia team that had just put up a combined 1,267 yards and 118 points against Baylor and Texas, came to Lubbock and left with 14 points.

At 5-1, Tech surged to (an underrated, really) 18th in the polls, then moved to 15th following an overtime win over TCU. But then things changed.

Adj. Points Per Game (first 6 games): Texas Tech 34.4, Opponent 14.0 (plus-20.4)
Adj. Points Per Game (last 7 games): Texas Tech 34.8, Opponent 32.3 (plus-2.5)

The cracks began to show against TCU, when the Horned Frogs both rushed for 184 yards and passed for 332 yards against a previously impenetrable, if vanilla, pass defense. And then Kansas State gained 426 yards, leaning heavily on the run. And Texas gained 427 doing the same. And Kansas ran almost exclusively and gained 419 yards (it was really the Jayhawks' only good offensive performance over the second half of the season). And Oklahoma State gained 256 yards on the ground, Baylor gained 278, and even Minnesota gained 222 in the bowl game.

Word got out that Tech couldn't stop the run, the defense's conservative ways began to fail, and the Red Raiders faded down the stretch despite steady offensive play.

Offense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 13 25 13 37
RUSHING 88 52 25 64
PASSING 2 30 9 38
Standard Downs 28 14 36
Passing Downs 19 8 32
Redzone 14 18 11
Q1 Rk 22 1st Down Rk 36
Q2 Rk 21 2nd Down Rk 24
Q3 Rk 60 3rd Down Rk 13
Q4 Rk 21

3. An easy fit

When Tuberville was hired, it felt like the most extreme departure possible from the Leach era. Tuberville led supremely run-heavy attacks at Auburn, and his attempt to adopt the spread in 2008 did not take. Merciful heavens, did it not take.

But he was not predisposed to hating the spread, and he was smart enough to figure out that you can draw spread offense talent to West Texas. He hired former Troy offensive coordinator Neal Brown, whose run-pass ratios were positively Leachian, more pass-heavy than what Kingsbury was posting at Texas A&M. (Granted, Kingsbury had Johnny Manziel at A&M; there is not a Manziel on this roster, so the run-heavy ways on passing downs will probably not follow Kingsbury from College Station to Lubbock.)

The result of Tuberville's offensive decisions: a relatively painless transition to Kingsbury Ball. Kingsbury hired former Tech quarterback Sonny Cumbie (the Red Raiders' receivers coach in 2012) and former Tech receiver Eric Morris (Leach's inside receivers coach at Washington State) as co-coordinators. Yeah, this really does have a band-getting-back-together feel to it. And while Kingsbury doesn't quite inherit a crew with the upside of last year's Aggies -- the offensive line is not one of the two or three best in the country, and while Michael Brewer showed potential last year, he's probably not going to come out of nowhere to win the Heisman -- it's got upside. Tech will move the ball and score points.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2013 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards Comp
Rate
TD INT Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Seth Doege 380 541 4,205 70.2% 39 16 17 3.0% 7.3
Michael Brewer 6'1, 183 So. *** (5.7) 34 48 375 70.8% 4 0 2 4.0% 7.2
Clayton Nicholas 6'3, 216 RSFr. *** (5.7)






Davis Webb 6'4, 194 Fr. *** (5.7)






Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
TD Adj.
POE
Kenny Williams RB 5'9, 219 Jr. **** (5.8) 143 824 5.8 5.0 5 +10.7
SaDale Foster RB 5'7, 187 Sr. ** (5.3) 91 451 5.0 4.1 3 -0.6
Eric Stephens RB 89 480 5.4 4.0 5 -0.1
DeAndre Washington (2011) RB 5'8, 182 So. *** (5.7) 77 366 4.8 N/A 3 N/A
Seth Doege QB 31 185 6.0 3.9 2 +2.2
Jakeem Grant WR-H 5'6, 183 So. *** (5.6) 8 19 2.4 7.7 0 -2.1
Michael Brewer QB 6'1, 183 So. *** (5.7) 7 36 5.1 2.7 0 +0.1
Quinton White RB 5'7, 197 RSFr. *** (5.6)





Tyler Middleton RB 6'0, 180 Jr. ** (5.4)





4. Running would be nice

On standard downs last year, Kingsbury's A&M offense basically split 50-50 between run and pass. The offenses he has been associated with have typically featured a prolific running back (or backs), which is probably good news for Kenny Williams, SaDale Foster, and returning sophomore DeAndre Washington.

But last year's Tech running backs were not very explosive -- Williams' per-carry average was lovely, but his 5.0 highlight yardage average suggests that the his line did him quite a few favors -- and the offensive line must replace three starters who had combined for about nine seasons' worth of starts (107). Last year's line was pretty good at creating opportunities, but Williams and Foster did not take full advantage of them, and now the line might regress.

No matter how exciting the offensive coaching staff is, a one-dimensional attack is still a one-dimensional attack. Be it because of running backs without clear upside or a potentially thin, young offensive line, there is reason to worry about Tech's running game.

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Yds/
Target
Target
Rate
%SD Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Darrin Moore WR 125 92 1032 73.6% 8.3 22.0% 70.4% 8.5 136.1
Eric Ward WR 6'0, 204 Sr. **** (5.8) 119 82 1053 68.9% 8.8 20.9% 65.5% 8.8 138.8
Tyson Williams WR 44 35 352 79.5% 8.0 7.7% 63.6% 8.0 46.4
Jakeem Grant WR 5'6, 183 So. *** (5.6) 41 32 284 78.0% 6.9 7.2% 82.9% 8.0 37.4
Jace Amaro TE 6'5, 257 Jr. **** (5.9) 37 25 409 67.6% 11.1 6.5% 81.1% 11.1 53.9
Alex Torres WR 28 21 228 75.0% 8.1 4.9% 60.7% 8.1 30.1
Austin Zouzalik WR 23 19 223 82.6% 9.7 4.0% 65.2% 9.8 29.4
Kenny Williams RB 5'9, 219 Jr. **** (5.8) 23 16 163 69.6% 7.1 4.0% 60.9% 7.1 21.5
Javon Bell WR 6'0, 180 Sr. *** (5.7) 22 17 269 77.3% 12.2 3.9% 63.6% 12.0 35.5
Bradley Marquez WR 5'11, 201 Jr. *** (5.7) 22 16 172 72.7% 7.8 3.9% 54.5% 7.5 22.7
Derreck Edwards WR 6'11, 177 So. **** (5.8) 10 6 58 60.0% 5.8 1.8% 50.0% 6.1 7.6
Reginald Davis WR 6'0, 184 RSFr. **** (5.8)








Dominique Wheeler WR 6'1, 177 RSFr. **** (5.8)








Devin Lauderdale WR 5'11, 170 Fr. **** (5.8)








D.J. Polite-Bray WR 6'1, 175 Fr. *** (5.7)








Dylan Cantrell WR 6'2, 202 Fr. *** (5.6)








5. You come to Lubbock to catch passes

There are 10 former four-star recruits listed in various units in this preview; six of them are part of the receiving corps. Possession receiver extraordinaire Eric Ward, tantalizing tight end Jace Amaro, and a series of unproven youngsters -- sophomore Derreck Edwards, redshirt freshmen Reginald Davis and Dominique Wheeler, incoming freshman Devin Lauderdale -- came to Texas Tech because of the West Texas spread.

Four of last year's top seven targets are gone, but it's hard to worry too much about this receiving corps, especially when you throw in high-efficiency options like Jakeem Grant, Javon Bell, and Bradley Marquez. This unit could use a few more big plays, but I don't fear a lack of overall explosiveness here nearly as much as I did with the running backs.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 103.8 3.08 3.76 44.5% 60.5% 19.2% 146.2 2.5% 4.6%
Rank 53 47 17 12 97 69 26 21 32
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Career Starts/Honors/Notes
LaAdrian Waddle LT 40 career starts; 2012 1st All-Big 12
Deveric Gallington C 38 career starts
Terry McDonald RT 29 career starts
Le'Raven Clark LT 6'5, 303 So. *** (5.7) 13 career starts
Beau Carpenter LG 6'6, 284 Jr. *** (5.6) 10 career starts
Tony Morales LG 6'3, 302 So. **** (5.8) 4 career starts
Rashad Fortenberry LT 6'5, 275 Sr. *** (5.6)
James Polk RG 6'6, 332 Jr. *** (5.6)
Jared Kaster C 6'3, 271 So. *** (5.6)
Alfredo Morales RG 6'3, 302 So. *** (5.7)
Matt Wilson LT 6'6, 268 So. *** (5.5)
Trey Keenan RT 6'6, 280 RSFr. *** (5.7)
Baylen Brown OL 6'4, 280 Fr. *** (5.7)
Joshua Outlaw OL 6'4, 290 Fr. *** (5.7)

Defense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 38 52 53 56
RUSHING 76 52 67 48
PASSING 14 59 38 68
Standard Downs 63 67 64
Passing Downs 40 38 41
Redzone 39 40 40
Q1 Rk 27 1st Down Rk 40
Q2 Rk 61 2nd Down Rk 23
Q3 Rk 14 3rd Down Rk 46
Q4 Rk 28

6. Run to win (on Tech)

Teams do run the ball in the Big 12, but teams ran the ball all the time on Tech last year, eight percent more than the national average on standard downs and nearly six percent more on passing downs. Texas rushed 39 times and passed 19 times. Kansas rushed 57 and threw 15. Oklahoma State rushed 42 and passed 22. Baylor rushed 57 and threw 37. Minnesota rushed 54 and passed 19. The Red Raiders' pass rush was rather mediocre, but the aggressive secondary was easily a strength, and offensive coordinators are not , as a whole, dumb. Opponents found life much more forgiving by simply handing the ball off and did a lot of it.

I asked Seth C from SB Nation's Viva the Matadors about the defense's issues in the second half of the season, and his eyeballs basically corroborated what these stats tell us.

As the season progressed, I think teams really took advantage of a very vanilla defense. Once Big 12 coordinators got going, they never looked back, sans Iowa St. Safeties could be exploited because they weren't all that fast, Cornelius Douglas was hurt/suspended, but he had only been a starter for the first 6 games. Linebackers that were pretty small and inexperienced doesn't play well in the Big 12, especially as teams are running more and more. Almost no consistent edge pass rush, etc.

In 2013, the script gets flipped a bit. The front seven returns almost everybody (for better or worse), and the secondary loses almost everybody.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 102.4 2.99 2.90 35.2% 68.6% 19.2% 100.4 4.0% 5.6%
Rank 48 74 34 22 71 66 61 81 78
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Kerry Hyder DE 6'2, 281 Sr. *** (5.5) 13 49.0 6.9% 14 6 0 4 0 1
Dartwan Bush DE 6'1, 256 Sr. *** (5.6) 13 37.0 5.2% 12 6 0 0 0 0
Jackson Richards DE 6'4, 248 Jr. **** (5.8) 13 26.0 3.7% 3.5 0 0 2 0 0
Delvon Simmons NT


13 20.0 2.8% 6 2 0 2 0 0
Dennell Wesley NT 6'1, 286 Sr. *** (5.5) 12 17.0 2.4% 5.5 2 0 0 0 0
Leon Mackey DT 11 5.5 0.8% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Donte Phillips DT 6'2, 260 So. ** (5.4) 5 5.0 0.7% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kindred Evans DE 6'3, 228 So. *** (5.6) 6 2.0 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Demetrius Alston DE 6'4, 260 So. ** (5.4)

Andre Ross DE 6'4, 230 Jr. NR






Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Sam Eguavoen WILL 6'1, 220 Jr. *** (5.6) 13 44.5 6.3% 1.5 0 0 0 0 0
Will Smith WILL 6'3, 224 Sr. *** (5.5) 13 44.5 6.3% 1.5 0 0 0 0 0
Blake Dees MIKE 6'0, 215 Jr. *** (5.5) 13 31.5 4.4% 2 0 0 0 0 0
Branden Jackson BAN 6'4, 248 Sr. *** (5.7) 13 18.0 2.5% 0 0 0 1 1 0
Pete Robertson BAN 6'3, 220 So. NR 12 18.0 2.5% 1.5 2 0 0 1 0
Terrance Bullitt RAID 6'3, 221 Sr. *** (5.6) 10 16.5 2.3% 2 1 0 2 0 0
Zach Winbush LB 6'1, 219 Jr. *** (5.5) 12 11.5 1.6% 1.5 0 0 0 0 0
Micah Awe MIKE 6'0, 205 So. *** (5.5) 13 10.5 1.5% 0.5 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Payne RAID 5'10, 187 Sr. *** (5.5) 9 3.0 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jacarthy Mack LB 6'3, 205 Fr. *** (5.6)







7. There are a lot worse things in this world…

…than inheriting a front seven that is nearly completely intact from the previous season. An impressive 90 percent of last year's front-seven tackles returns. That's obviously great from an experience standpoint -- and to be sure, there are some exciting, experienced players here, like linemen Kerry Hyder and Dartwan Bush (combined: 26 tackles for loss) -- but experience alone doesn't cure all ills.

The defensive line was at least decent last year, ranking 48th in Adj. Line Yards and preventing opportunities for opposing runners. But when runners did get an opportunity, they made the Red Raiders pay. The linebacking corps, with two freshmen and a sophomore among its top five last year, was the weakness of the defense, neither making nor stopping many plays.

And now new defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt's flexible 3-4 will spend a lot of time putting more linebackers on the field. Players like Branden Jackson and former safety Terrance Bullitt will be put into aggressive positions on the field. Will the unit both improve and take advantage of its play-making opportunities?

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Cody Davis S 13 92.5 13.0% 3.5 0 3 7 0 0
D.J. Johnson S 13 79.5 11.2% 2 1 2 5 0 0
Eugene Neboh CB 13 37.5 5.3% 0 0 0 12 0 0
Bruce Jones CB 5'7, 171 Sr. *** (5.5) 13 29.0 4.1% 2 0 0 7 0 0
Tre' Porter FS 6'0, 202 Sr. **** (5.8) 11 26.0 3.7% 1 0 0 2 0 0
Cornelius Douglas CB 6 16.5 2.3% 4 0 2 0 0 0
Jarvis Phillips NB 10 11.5 1.6% 0 0 0 2 0 0
J.J. Gaines SS 5'10, 180 So. *** (5.6) 13 8.0 1.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Derrick Mays CB 5'11, 175 Sr. ** (5.2) 11 7.0 1.0% 0 0 0 1 0 0
Olaoluwa Falemi CB 5'9, 157 Sr. *** (5.5) 12 6.5 0.9% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Summitt Hogue S 5'11, 184 So. NR 8 5.0 0.7% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Bagley CB 5'10, 155 Jr. NR 9 4.5 0.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Austin Stewart SS 6'0, 206 Jr. *** (5.6) 4 2.0 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jeremy Reynolds CB 5'9, 175 So. *** (5.5) 3 1.5 0.2% 0 0 1 0 0 0
Keenon Ward FS 5'9, 189 RSFr. *** (5.5)
La'Darius Newbold CB 5'11, 190 RSFr. *** (5.7)
Dorian Crawford DB 6'2, 200 Jr. *** (5.5)

Martin Hill DB 5'11, 185 Jr. ** (5.4)



8. Not as much reason to fear the secondary

With five seniors and two juniors in its top seven, last year's secondary was seasoned and aggressive. Safeties Cody Davis and D.J. Johnson combined for 5.5 tackles for loss and 17 passes defensed. Corners Eugene Neboh, Bruce Jones, and Cornelius Douglas combined for six tackles for loss and 21 passes defensed. The Tech defense was strangely awful at forcing turnovers -- only two of those 21 passes defensed by corners were picked off, and defensive backs didn't force a single fumble -- but this was a solid unit. Was.

Now, only Jones and backup safety Tre' Porter return with any sort of experience. Players like J.J. Gaines and Derrick Mays evidently had strong springs, but playing in the Big 12 obviously puts a strain on your secondary. We'll see how this one holds up.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Ryan Erxleben 6'1, 191 Sr. 40 41.7 2 15 8 57.5%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB TB%
Kramer Fyfe 5'8, 159 Jr. 79 59.4 29 36.7%
Andrew Bowman 4 63.8 0 0.0%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Ryan Bustin 5'11, 172 Jr. 59-59 14-17 82.4% 3-7 42.9%
Andrew Bowman 0-0 1-1 100.0% 0-0 N/A
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Sadale Foster KR 5'7, 187 Sr. 18 21.8 0
Eric Stephens KR 6 14.2 0
Jakeem Grant KR 5'6, 163 So. 6 39.5 2
Austin Zouzalik PR 17 10.4 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 58
Net Punting 96
Net Kickoffs 84
Touchback Pct 67
Field Goal Pct 63
Kick Returns Avg 36
Punt Returns Avg 37

9. Safe to say, Jakeem Grant is the kick returner

No matter how much our eyeballs try to convince us otherwise, small end-of-season samples are not very reflective or predictive of how a unit or player will perform over the long haul. But go ahead and try to convince anybody who saw Jakeem Grant's exploits from the final two games of the season. First, he did this to Baylor. Then he did this to Minnesota. The waterbug receiver has ridiculous return potential, to say the least, and if Tech can plug some holes in kick/punt coverage, this should be a strong special teams unit overall. (Of course, "If Team can fix [random massive hole], they'll be a lot better" isn't exactly the strongest analysis in the world.)

2013 Schedule & Projection Factors

2013 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
31-Aug at SMU 82
7-Sep Stephen F. Austin NR
14-Sep TCU 16
21-Sep Texas State 107
5-Oct at Kansas 104
12-Oct Iowa State 76
19-Oct at West Virginia 41
26-Oct at Oklahoma 7
2-Nov Oklahoma State 6
9-Nov Kansas State 40
16-Nov Baylor 36
28-Nov at Texas 11
Five-Year F/+ Rk 36
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 39
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* -13 / -3.9
TO Luck/Game -3.5
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 13 (5, 8)
Yds/Pt Margin** +1.7

10. Prepare for a hot start

Tech no doubt made the feel-good hire of the offseason, bringing back the local hero to re-energize the program and fanbase. And with their early schedule, the Red Raiders should probably count on a lot more positive coverage early in the season. Of course, they could also count on more second-half struggles.

Of Tech's seven best projected opponents, only one pops up on the schedule before the middle of October. Road trips to SMU and Kansas aren't gimmies, but the Red Raiders will probably be favored in five of their first six games, and since they did win at TCU last year, one figures they have at least decent odds of beginning the season 6-0 even with question marks on the offensive line and throughout the defense. Things get much more difficult after that, but the rosy coverage could indeed last into October before things get iffy. The aforementioned question marks should assure nothing more than about seven wins or so overall, but the schedule will help the Red Raiders reach bowl eligibility.

The short-term and long-term are completely different animals. Short-term, the Kingsbury hire both made perfect sense and came with a lot of bonus points. Still only 33, Kingsbury had already proven just about as much as he possibly could as an offensive assistant. but that doesn't automatically make you a great head coach. Long-term, we have no idea what awaits or to what level Tech can expect to succeed. This program was brutally consistent and fun under Mike Leach, always winning seven games and rarely winning more than nine. Kingsbury could very well reattain that level of consistency; we'll have to wait and see whether he can deliver more than that.

More from SB Nation:

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