Sports On Earth’s Matt Brown reflects on possible breakout teams for the Power Five conferences and Brown pegs Texas Tech as a team that could breakthrough in the 2016 season.
Brown seems to pick Texas Tech mainly because of the absolutely brilliant offense, but acknowledges the defense could (and did last year) hold Texas Tech back. The other thought is that the Big 12 really doesn’t have another breakout candidate, other than maybe the Longhorns, where it appears that Texas and Texas Tech are exact opposites of each other. an offense that may struggle significantly but should have a fantastic defense.
In his first full season as starter, Mahomes completed 63.5 percent for 4,653 yards with 36 TDs and 15 INTs, in addition to running for 456 yards and 10 TDs. He’s capable of big things in Kingsbury’s system, and while losing Grant hurts, suspended No. 2 receiver Devin Lauderdale has been reinstated, and there may also be an influx of talent with four-star freshman T.J. Vasher and juco transfers Derrick Willies and De’Quan Bowman. Texas Tech hasn’t finished in the top five or finished better than 8-5 since Mike Leach’s final season in 2009. After a dismal 4-8 record in 2014, the Red Raiders bounced back to a bowl game last season, although the ugly defensive performances — 70 points allowed to Oklahoma State, 63 to Oklahoma, 56 to LSU — marred what could have been an even better season, especially with a heartbreaking early-season loss to TCU. Still, this is a quarterback-driven league, and with Mahomes — the Big 12’s best pure passer — returning, Texas Tech could pull off a few surprises and take another step forward.
I am usually torn at this point in the year as to what I think Texas Tech will be, as well as all of the other teams, but I think Texas Tech does have the opportunity to be a breakthrough team . . . if . . . and this is a big “if” Texas Tech and Patrick Mahomes can play better on the road. That’s the one thing that’s not really being discussed, which is the lackluster offense while on the road. I think that if Mahomes can mature, taking the advice of Kingsbury and take what’s given to him, then yeah, there’s real potential there for the offense to be more efficient and, in turn, improve the overall record.