The Orlando Sentinel has ranked all 125 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country. The Sentinel staff will take a closer look at a new team daily, counting backward from No. 125 to our projected No. 1 team.
Today at No. 89: Texas Tech
Coach: Kliff Kingsbury (0-0, first season; 0-0 overall)
2012 record: 8-5 (4-5 in Big 12 Conference, tied for sixth overall)
Look back: Once again, Texas Tech’s high-powered offense was on display in 2012. The Red Raiders opened the season by winning six of its first seven games before struggling down the stretch. Losses to Kansas State, Texas, Oklahoma State and Baylor soured the team’s early success. Texas Tech defeated Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl for the program’s third bowl victory in the past four seasons. In the offseason, Tommy Tuberville surprisingly left the program after only three seasons to take the head coaching job at Cincinnati. In his place, the school hired former TTU alum, Kliff Kingsbury – who spent the past season as the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M – to run the program.
Offensive starters returning: 7
Offensive starters lost: 4
Defensive starters returning: 7
Defensive starters lost: 4
Key losses: QB Seth Doege, WR Darrin Moore, C Deveric Gallington, RG Terry McDaniel, CB Cornelius Douglas, CB Eugene Neboh, FS Cody Davis
Top returnees: RB Kenny Williams, WR Eric Ward, WR Bradley Marquez, TE Jace Amaro, DE Jackson Richards, DE Dartwan Bush, DT Kerry Hyder, LB Will Smith, LB Blake Dees
Strengths: While the quarterback position appears up for grabs, most of the rest of the offense appears intact. Junior Kenny Williams, who rushed for 824 yards and five touchdowns last season, will be back to take charge in the backfield while Eric Ward leads a talented group of receivers. … the defensive front seven remains intact including tackle Kerry Hyder, who led the team with 14.0 tackles for loss and six sacks.
Weaknesses: Kingbury did a masterful job developing Johnny Manziel last season at Texas A&M so it makes sense that he will have a big hand in choosing who will replace Seth Doege at quarterback for the Red Raiders. Michael Brewer, a dual-threat option, saw limited action last season as backup and could be the best fit for Kingsbury’s offensive scheme. Freshman Davis Webb could present a challenge to Brewer for the spot as well … there will be a lot of fresh faces in the secondary. The unit was one of the strength’s of this team last season and the lack of experience could haunt them in a tough, pass-happy Big 12.
Outlook: Kingsbury was one of the hottest names in coaching this offseason and his hiring in Lubbock was met with resounding enthusiasm. A top assistant coach, his track record with developing quarterbacks is well-known including Case Keenum at Houston and Manziel at A&M. How quickly he can develop a quarterback this season will be crucial. The defense, which will have its fifth defensive coordinator in five seasons, needs to gel quickly if Texas Tech expects to make noise in 2013.
Aug. 30 at SMU
Sept. 7 Stephen F. Austin
Sept. 12 TCU
Sept. 21 Texas State
Oct. 5 at Kansas