Texas Tech football: 5 reasons many are optimistic about 2021

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LUBBOCK, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 26: Linebacker Colin Schooler #17 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders lines up for a play during the second half of the college football game against the Texas Longhorns on September 26, 2020 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

Being a Texas Tech football fan has certainly tested all of us over the past decade.  In fact, it’s been one of the worst 10-year runs in program history.

Since 2011, Tech has had seven losing seasons.  That includes the current run of five straight seasons of sub-.500 play, the longest such streak the program has endured since an ugly seven-season run of futility from 1979-1985.

Thus, to say that Texas Tech football is in need of some positivity would be the ultimate understatement.  That’s because, by just about any measure, this program has been devoid of success in recent years.

For instance, it’s been since 2009 that Tech has had a winning record in Big 12 play.  What’s more, the Red Raiders haven’t even finished in the top half of the league standings since 2015, the first full season that Patrick Mahomes was the starting QB in Lubbock.

Then there’s the fact that the signature wins and rousing upsets that once defined Tech football have been nowhere to be found for far too long.   Since the start of the 2014 season, the Red Raiders have mustered just one win over a top 20 team, 2018’s upset of No. 15 Oklahoma State in Stillwater.  And to find the program’s last upset of a top-10 team, you have to go all the way back to the 49-14 thrashing of No. 5 West Virginia in 2012.

We could go on but the point is clear.  This program has been in a tailspin for far too long.

But every offseason, hope springs eternal.  That’s true even for a program that has been in such a woeful state as Texas Tech.

The good news is that this year, the optimism might be warranted rather than just being a product of buying into the rhetoric and coach speak that comes from the football facility around this time every offseason.  So let’s look at five legitimate reasons for optimism as we begin to think about the 2020 Texas Tech football season.

Super Seniors

Matt Wells wants his team to be old and experienced.  Well, he’s accomplished that task in 2021, especially thanks to a group of so-called “super seniors”.

This year, there will be a large number of college football players playing an extra year of eligibility after being seniors in 2020.  Because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the 2020 season, the NCAA did not count last season against a player’s eligibility and that decision has greatly benefitted the Red Raiders.

First of all, the offensive line will feature a pair of “super seniors” in right guard Josh Burger and TCU transfer T.J. Storment, who will man the left tackle spot.  Storment, a second-team All-Big 12 honoree in 2020, is expected to fortify an offensive line that was less than stellar last fall.

Meanwhile, the receiving corps will welcome the returns of tight end Travis Koontz and inside receiver McLane Mannix.

On defense, linebackers, Colin Schooler, Riko Jeffers, and Jacob Morgenstern, and defensive backs Eric Monroe, Marquis Waters, and Damarcus Fields are all expected to be major contributors.  That will make the Red Raider defense one of the most experienced units in the nation.

In a year that will begin with Wells and his coaching staff on the hottest of seats, they could ill afford to rely on an inexperienced roster full of underclassmen and unproven players.  Thus, the coaching staff has built a roster that is long in the tooth by college football standards and that could be a huge boost for the Red Raiders’ chances of finally having a strong season in 2021.

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