This week, we're breaking down the five big questions lingering for each Big 12 program heading into the season. We continue with the Texas Tech Red Raiders:
How quickly can David Gibbs fix this defense?
Since coming over from Houston, Gibbs has brought this struggling group back to basics and will have them looking far more fundamentally sound when they finally hit the field. But there's a lot of catching-up to do after Tech finished last among Power 5 teams in run defense and had a minus-13 turnover margin. With Pete Robertson and Branden Jackson leading the way up front, Tech will head in the right direction. But will there be enough progress to hang with more Big 12 foes?
How will Kliff Kingsbury handle his quarterbacks?
The head coach has let his three quarterbacks keep battling throughout fall camp, and that's not a bad thing. It still seems inevitable he'll name Patrick Mahomes his starter for the opener, and there are plenty of reasons to be excited about his future. But Davis Webb is a respected veteran who'll find a way to help this team as some point this season. Tech players know they can win with him, too, so if Mahomes hits a sophomore slump at some point, how quickly will Kingsbury and the staff turn to Webb?
Can Texas Tech shake its penalty problem?
Texas Tech ranked dead last in FBS in penalty yardage last season, second-worst in 2013 and fourth-worst in 2012. Specifically, in 2014, the Red Raiders' biggest problems were offensive holding calls and personal fouls. They've got to find a way to get over these discipline mistakes. Kingsbury and his staff have tried to get that fixed any way they can, so we'll see if another offseason of trying to clean up their play makes a difference.
Could Tech have the best running back duo in the Big 12?
Sure, this one might be a little bit of a stretch, because the Perine-Mixon duo at Oklahoma could be insane. But the Red Raiders know they have something special in DeAndre Washington and Justin Stockton. Washington was terrific last season and the best pass-catching back in the league, and Stockton can hit a home run on any given play. With four returning starting linemen to pave the way, Tech's run game should be healthier than ever.
How will Tech respond after Oct. 3?
We're going to find out a lot about this Red Raiders team rather quickly. Starting Week 3, they're going back-to-back-to-back against No. 18 Arkansas, No. 2 TCU and No. 4 Baylor. And only one of those games (TCU) is in Lubbock. With no bye week until late November, Tech won't have much of a chance to regroup after that fairly terrifying trio of games. No matter how they fare during that stretch, the Red Raiders can't get too beaten up, because there's no time for a hangover if a bowl is the goal.