College Sports: Red Raiders have Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year contender, other bold predictions for Texas Tech



Akshay Mirchandani

As we close in on another exciting college football season, we have some bold predictions for each of our local teams.

Here’s what you can expect this season from Texas Tech:

1. Texas Tech won’t be a bottom-three defensive team in the Big 12

Not only were the Red Raiders the worst defensive team in the conference, they were dead last in the country. But Texas Tech will bring back seven defensive starters, including leading tackler Jordyn Brooks. The Red Raiders also bring back linebacker Dakota Allen, who led the team in tackles in 2015 before a year stint at East Mississippi Community College. That should be enough to lift Tech to some defensive improvement.

2. Nic Shimonek will be a contender for Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year

Former quarterback Patrick Mahomes III threw for 5,052 yards and 41 touchdowns last season, but the Offensive Player of the Year award went to Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook. Mahomes is gone, but Shimonek will be right in the thick of the race. Shimonek won’t be able to replicate Mahomes’ production, but he will still be very effective in Kliff Kingsbury’s system and with a reliable group of receivers. In limited time last season, Shimonek passed for 464 yards, six touchdowns and one interception.

3. The Red Raiders will go bowling

Kingsbury’s squad finished 5-7 last season, just one win shy of bowl eligibility. With an explosive offense and an improved defense, Texas Tech will win six games to get back to a bowl game. Whether that’s enough for Kingsbury to keep his job remains to be seen, but there should definitely be a sense of urgency in Lubbock and that might be enough to get the Red Raiders over the hump.

4. Texas Tech will have a 1,000 yard rusher

Running back Da’Leon Ward only had 438 rushing yards in nine games last season as a true freshman, but that was good enough to lead the Red Raiders in rushing. Demarcus Felton wasn’t far behind with 356 yards and three touchdowns. With Mahomes gone, Tech should look to run the ball more to make life easier on Nick Shimonek. With what they flashed last season, either Ward or Felton will crack a 1,000 yards on the year and become key cogs in the Red Raider offense.

5. The Red Raiders finish non-conference play undefeated

Texas Tech will earn an easy home victory against Eastern Washington. Kingsbury and his squad lost a shootout against Arizona State in Tempe last season, but will get a mediocre Sun Devils team back in Lubbock this season. Their final non-conference game will come against Houston, with no Tom Herman and no Greg Ward. That gives Texas Tech a 3-0 start to the season and plenty of momentum heading into Big 12 play.

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