It is time. Opening week. Texas Tech vs. Houston at NRG Stadium. No more expansion talk, alliance talk, and no more Bob Bowlsby talk. Actual football is here. What can Red Raider fans expect in week one?
When Texas Tech is on offense
The Texas Tech offense will look different in 2021. New offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie will be calling plays with a new starting quarterback in Oregon-transfer Tyler Shough. Cumbie’s offense isn’t going to be a pure air raid that many Texas Tech fans are accustomed to. The running backs at Cumbie’s disposal, starting with RB1 SaRodorick Thompson as well as Xavier White and Tahj Brooks, are going to garner plenty of touches. Combined with Shough’s ability to run behind an experienced offensive line, there should be some semblance of balance between the run and the pass.
Red Raider fans should still expect plenty from the aerial attack, led by Preseason All-Big 12 team Erik Ezukanma. Houston’s depth chart for the game reveals none of their starting defensive backs are taller than 6’0. Texas Tech has a 6’4 tight end in Travis Koontz and a total of five wide receivers over 6’3” that could take the field. Shough should give his big targets a chance to win one-on-one balls.
When Texas Tech is on defense
The Texas Tech defensive unit made strides last year. That said, they still have plenty of room for improvement. The anchor of the defense will be the entire linebacker corps. Colin Schooler, Riko Jeffers, Brandon Bouyer-Randle, and Krishon Merriweather are all seniors and are super-talented. Another senior-laden group can be found in the defensive backfield. DaMarcus Fields, Marquis “Muddy” Waters, Eric Monroe, as well as junior transfers Malik Dunlap from NC State and Rayshad Williams from UCLA, provide major depth and experience to this group.
If the Texas Tech defense is going to make a major leap this year, the onus is on the defensive front. It is another experienced group with Tyree Wilson, Nelson Mbanasor, Jaylon Hutchings, Tony Bradford Jr., and Devin Drew. If any of them can break out this year, it gives this defense a true anchor and balance across the defensive attack. Houston’s offense, led by quarterback three-year starter Clayton Tune, has a wide receiver that Texas Tech fans are familiar with in KeSean Carter. Dana Holgorsen is in his own make-or-break year. He should have the Cougar offense primed for a big season. If Texas Tech is going to win, it must limit Houston’s big plays on offense.
Texas Tech vs Houston prediction
Will the victory bells ring loudly in Houston? In a critical year for the program, both short and long term, expect lots of points on the scoreboard. The Red Raiders will come up with the necessary key defensive stops to secure a win for head coach Matt Wells and company.
Texas Tech 42, Houston 35