Texas Tech season preview

Today we take a look at Texas Tech. There is plenty of excitement in Lubbock, as Kliff Kingsbury returns to head the Red Raiders' program.


Coach: Kliff Kingsbury (1st season as a head coach)

2012 record: 8-5 (4-5 in Big 12)

Key losses: QB Seth Doege, WR Darrin Moore, S Cody Davis, S D.J. Johnson, DT Delvon Simmons, OL LaAdrian Waddle

Key returnees: WR Eric Ward, TE Jace Amaro, DT Kerry Hyder, HB Kenny Williams, DB Tre' Porter, DT Dartwan Bush, LB Will Smith

Newcomer to watch: CB Dee Paul. His combination of speed and competitiveness could earn the true freshman some immediate playing time for the Red Raiders. A small-school star at Munday (Texas) High School, Paul should get plenty of opportunities to make his mark in 2013.

Biggest games in 2013: The Red Raiders could send a message during an early season Thursday night tilt with TCU on Sept. 12. Their conference slate is the toughest down the stretch, as Texas Tech faces the Oklahoma schools --at Oklahoma (Oct. 26) and hosting Oklahoma State (Nov. 2) -- in consecutive weeks before finishing the season with Baylor in Arlington, Texas, (Nov. 16) and at Texas (Nov. 28). Those four games should define Kingsbury's first season as a head coach.

Biggest question mark heading into 2013: The Red Raiders need to find a quarterback to become the face of the offensive system that made Johnny Manziel a Heisman Trophy winner under Kingsbury at Texas A&M last season.

Sophomore Michael Brewer and freshman Davis Webb are the main competitors. Brewer is the odds-on favorite to win the job after backing up Seth Doege last season as a redshirt freshman. But Webb, a true freshman who graduated early to participate in spring football and impressed enough to insert himself into the competition, should not be overlooked.

Forecast: With Kingsbury breathing new life into the program, Texas Tech is already starting to make waves on the recruiting trail. The Red Raiders hope that momentum transfers onto the field as well.

Wide receiver Eric Ward is one of the Big 12’s top offensive threats and joins tight end Jace Amaro to give the Red Raiders a receiving duo that will be difficult for any defense to handle. Now, they just need to find a quarterback who can get them the football. Receiver Jakeem Grant brings explosive speed to the table and DeAndre Washington joins Kenny Williams to give Kingsbury multiple options at running back.

Defensive tackle Kerry Hyder and defensive end Dartwan Bush lead the way as the Red Raiders transition to a 3-4 look on defensive. Bush and Hyder combined for 11 sacks and 26 tackles for loss last season and will be counted on to provide the foundation of Texas Tech’s defense this fall. An experienced and talented defense (eight returning starters) returns for the Red Raiders, which could be the key to any championship run they hope to make in Kingsbury’s first season.