Texas Tech football: Red Raiders short on returning production in 2020

LUBBOCK, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 16: Defensive back Douglas Coleman IIII #3 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders enters the field before the college football game against the TCU Horned Frogs on November 16, 2019 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 16: Defensive back Douglas Coleman IIII #3 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders enters the field before the college football game against the TCU Horned Frogs on November 16, 2019 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images) /
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According to one study by ESPN, the 2020 Texas Tech football team will return less production in 2019 than most of its Big 12 rivals.

When the 2020 season does eventually come around, the Texas Tech football team will have some massive holes to fill.  In fact, according to an article by ESPN’s Bill Connelly, the Red Raiders will have to replace more productivity from 2019 than all but three Big 12 teams.

Connelly crunched the numbers for all 130 FBS teams in the country and found that Tech will return less production than 80 teams in the nation.  By his estimation, the Red Raiders will bring back just 59% of last year’s overall production.

But you might be asking exactly what he means by returning production.   Thus, Connelly tries his best to explain his methods for figuring out his rankings in his article, which originally ran in February.

"“I have for a few years been deriving what I call a team’s returning production percentage as an alternative to returning starters,” he writes. “It looks at the most predictive key personnel stats — percentage of your QB’s passing yards returning, percentage of your secondary’s passes defensed returning, and everything in between — and is weighted based on what correlates most strongly with year-to-year improvement and regression.”"

Connelly estimates that Tech will bring back a mere 48% of 2019’s offensive production.  That’s good for just 106th on his list.

It’s easy to understand why Tech ranks to low.  Gone are QB Jett Duffey and his 3,066 all-purpose yards, WR R.J. Turner and his 654 receiving yards, TE Donta Thompson and his 311 receiving yards, RB Armand Shyne and his 379 rushing yards, and RB Ta’Zhawn Henry and his 340 rushing yards.  That group accounted for a combined 18 passing, seven rushing, and three receiving TDs.

On defense, Tech is also tasked with filling some significant holes. But with 71% of last year’s productivity set to return, the Red Raiders have the 44th-most coming back on that side of the ball.

Of course, replacing LB Jordyn Brooks (108 tackles), Douglas Coleman (63 tackles and 8 interceptions), and Broderick Washington (39 tackles, 2.5 sacks) will be tough.  But, the Red Raiders should feel good about bringing back 16 of last season’s top 20 tacklers.

To put the picture in the frame, consider that the team returning the most productivity from last year is Northwestern, which brings back a staggering 84% of last year’s productivity.  Meanwhile, the team at the bottom of the list is Utah, which has only 37% on its way back.

As for the rest of the Big 12, Oklahoma State is tops at 80%, good for No. 9 in the nation.  Texas comes in at No. 21 (74%), Iowa State at No. 52 (67%), TCU at No. 64 (65%), West Virginia at No. 66 (64%), Kansas State at No. 76 (61%) Oklahoma at No. 82 (59%), Baylor at No. 108 (51%), and Kansas at No. 126 (42%).

But while these numbers are food for thought, they may not necessarily be a predictor of success this fall.  That’s because every year, teams find ways to replace what they’ve lost and in 2020, the Red Raiders have some excellent options when it comes to making up for what walked out the door this offseason.

While Brooks, a second-team All-American LB, will be impossible to replace and Coleman’s eight-pick season isn’t likely to be duplicated, there are quality options set to step in for the rest of the players that have moved on.

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Most notably is QB Alan Bowman.  Assuming that he can finally stay healthy this season, which is far from a guarantee, he will likely dwarf what Duffey was able to put up in 2019.  Also, it’s reasonable to think that no only will RB SaRodorick Thompson surpass his 765 rushing yards from last fall, but he might also go over the 1,000-yard mark, which would come close to matching what he and Shyne did last season combined when they were the team’s two leading rushers.

We also expect returning starters T.J. Vasher and Erik Ezukanma to better their mediocre receiving totals from last year.  Together, they combined for just 1,179 yards and 10 touchdowns.  If Tech has any hope of improving this year, that duo has to far exceed those numbers this season.

Also, it is logical to believe that a second year in the offensive system of OC David Yost and the defensive scheme of DC Keith Patterson will yield better results.  After spending a full season in those two systems, the players on both sides of the ball should play with more confidence in year two.

Still, it is worth keeping in mind that there is plenty of need for new players to bring their best to this year’s team.  For instance, JUCO LB Krishon Merriweather will need to be a capable middle LB in Brooks’ place and true freshman RB Tahj Brooks will need to at least give his team a viable second option in the backfield.  Also, players like TE Travis Koontz, receiver Kesean Carter, DB Adam Beck, and DE Tony Bradofrd Jr. will likely be asked to play starting roles after being backups last year.

The all-time West Texas Red Raider football team. dark. Next

Whether those players are able to carry their portion of the load more effectively than their predecessors will be the key to 2020.  And given how young the roster is, there’s reason to think that Tech will sit much high on this list a year from now.