Texas Tech Football: Why 2023 is the Year for the Red Raiders to Strike

Texas Tech Football: Why 2023 is the Year for the Red Raiders to Strike

Every May, as summer approaches, we slowly begin to see the number of college football preview stories leaking out of the national pundits. What’s so exciting for the Texas Tech football program this time around is that there are significant external expectations for this season that haven’t been there for some time.

In fact, respected college football player Brett McMurphy sent out a tweet on Tuesday that had many people in Raiderland buzzing. Listing his first bowl projections, McMurphy put the Red Raiders in the Cotton Bowl to face Alabama. While this would not mean that Tech would play in the College Football Playoff, it would mean that the Red Raiders were the 12 champions, as no other Big 12 teams were included in McMurphy’s projected clashes for the New Year’s six bowls.

Of course, no one associated with Joey McGuire’s program would turn up their noses at the chance to play one of the most prestigious programs in the country in front of what would be a rowdy partisan crowd at the Metroplex, home to the largest number of Texas Tech alumni in any country. place in the world. the world outside of Lubbock. Such a matchup would be a huge stepping stone for Red Raider football, and given how the 2023 roster is constructed, this fall is the perfect time for Tech to make some serious national noise.

Thanks to the extra year of eligibility given to players for the COVID-shortened 2020 season, Tech will field what will likely be the oldest and most experienced roster in program history. In fact, throughout the depth chart can be found players entering their final season of college football.

That’s especially true on defense, where eight starters will exhaust their eligibility this season with one more, Syracuse moving linebacker Steve Linton, also a senior but still having the option to return in 2024 thanks to the COVID freebie. That leaves only middle linebacker Jacob Rodriguez and San Diego State defensive transfer CJ Baskerville (both juniors) as the only non-seniors projected to start for DC Tim DeRuyter.

It’s a little different story on the other side of the ball, but still, OC Zach Kittley will have his share of experience to go with seven starters playing his senior year. Of course, the most important of these is QB Tyler Shough, who many believe has a future in the NFL if he can prove to be able to stay healthy for an entire season. He will be protected by three senior strikers, two of whom were not part of last season’s porous lineup.

The point is, this is a roster built for this year. So Tech should be making noise this season because it’s a vital opportunity for the program to announce that it has returned to being a major factor on the national stage.

Also, if Tech can do something they’ve never done before and win the Big 12, doing so in 2023 would have more influence across the country than achieving that goal in subsequent years, given that this is the last season with Oklahoma and Texas at the conference. Make no mistake, having this year’s conference crown to hold these two pompous programs would be an added benefit of a big year for tech this fall as well.

In any NCAA sport, experience and age are two of the most coveted traits in a roster. There’s so much of a difference between what a 22- or 23-year-old senior brings to the table in terms of maturity (both physically and mentally) compared to a freshman or sophomore that the older teams are almost always the ones that seem to win big.

Still, the number of seniors Tech will feature this year is extraordinarily high. For example, the 2008 squad that was unquestionably the best Red Raider squad of the modern era started with just eight seniors. Of course, having two sophomores like wide receiver Michael Crabtree and defensive tackle Colby Whitlock as anchors on either side of the ball didn’t hurt things that season either.

Next year, though, Tech could be facing a downturn season, with Behren Morton taking over as a full-time starter (probably the first time in his career) and an offensive line losing three starters by graduation. What’s more, Tech will have to replace four starting defensive quarterbacks, both starting defensive tackles, one starting linebacker, and at least one starting defensive end.

Now, the prevalence of the transfer gate in the modern game means that programs can replace experience with more experience, rather than simply handing slots to freshmen and waiting for them to develop. So it’s not hard to imagine a world where the Red Raiders are able to build a roster packed with veterans in 2024 despite upcoming losses in the upcoming off-season.

Still, it looks like 2023 is the year Tech has been building towards for years. It’s one that sees McGuire’s closet stocked with talent at a level we haven’t seen in Lubbock for over a decade and nearly all of that talent has been on the college football block multiple times. So it would be best for all in scarlet and black that the team of the year be the one that puts Tech back on the map in style.