Hopes and concerns: Texas Tech

Three Big 12 teams are already looking toward 2015.

After disappointing seasons that ended without a bowl game, Texas Tech, Kansas and Iowa State won’t see the field again until the fall of 2015. There are plenty of reasons for concern but some glimmers of hope at each school. For the next three days, we’ll take a look at three reasons for hope and three reasons for concern at Tech, KU and ISU as they look toward 2015.

Today we wrap up our mini-series with a look at Texas Tech.

Reasons for hope

Patrick Mahomes could be the real deal: The freshman got the opportunity to play and seized it during the final three games of the season. Not only did Mahomes' competitiveness shine through, he protected the football better than any quarterback has during Kliff Kingbury’s tenure with 14 touchdowns and two interceptions in Tech’s final three games. While a healthy Davis Webb will have plenty to say about the future at the position in Lubbock, Mahomes showed signs he can raise the level of play of everyone around him.

Kliff Kingsbury and company can recruit: The Red Raiders have five ESPN 300 prospects on the commit list, including quarterback Jarrett Stidham and defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko. Tech’s five commitments from ESPN 300 members is more than Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU and West Virginia. Turning the program around starts in the living rooms of recruits, and the Red Raiders are doing an exceptional job securing top talent despite their on-field stumbles.

Plenty of young talent already on the roster: Nigel Bethel II, Cameron Batson and Ian Sadler are just a few of the young players who could be poised to join Mahomes as the foundation of the future in Lubbock. Kingsbury’s squad took plenty of hits in 2014, but played a bevy of freshman and sophomores who will be much more prepared for the demands of the Big 12 in 2015.

Reasons for concern

Lack of improvement: The Red Raiders finished at the bottom of the Big 12 with a minus-14 turnover margin in 2013. This season, the Red Raiders finished ninth in the Big 12 at minus-13. Until the Red Raiders get better at ball protection, it's hard to expect more wins. The yellow flag also continued to be Tech’s enemy as the Red Raiders finished ninth in the conference in penalties for the second straight season, although penalties aren't that big of a deal in comparison to turnovers (especially considering back-to-back Big 12 champion Baylor finished last in penalties in 2013 and 2014). Regardless, Tech needs to improve and address the problems that have served as an anchor on one of the Big 12’s best offenses the past two seasons.

Defense, defense, defense: Finding a CEO for his defense is Kingsbury’s most important task this offseason. He’s done a solid job with the Red Raiders' offense (outside of the turnovers) but the defense's struggles have prevented true success. Tech is gathering some talent on that side of the ball, but some semblance of continuity and direction would go a long way. It starts with landing a quality defensive coordinator who can be handed the reins and be left to do his thing by Kingsbury.

The Red Raiders need wins to turn momentum around: Tech is 5-13 since Kingsbury’s 7-0 start to his head coaching career. High-scoring offense, superb season ticket sales and improving inroads on the recruiting trail will only get you so far. The Red Raiders need some tangible success, preferably early in 2015, to erase questions about Kingsbury’s head-coaching ability and get the program moving back in the right direction.