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Where Must the Red Raiders Improve in 2022?

The Red Raiders must improve in these five areas to succeed this season.

The Texas Tech Red Raiders are breaking in a new coaching staff. Joey McGuire has a lot to prove in his first year as a college head coach.

The Red Raiders finished 7-6 last year, firing former four-year head coach Matt Wells midseason. If McGuire wants to succeed in Year 1 at Texas Tech, he will have to focus on some specific areas in fall camp. broke down five areas where the Red Raiders must be better this fall.  

The first area is total offense. The Red Raiders were 56th nationally and seventh in the Big 12 in total offense a season ago. Averaging 416.3 yards per game, the Red Raiders had their lowest total offense output since 1999. The Red Raiders have to be efficient on offense if they want to make noise in the Big 12. 

The next area is sacks. The Red Raiders have only finished in the top 50 nationally in sacks once since 2013. They finished toward the bottom nationally last season at 109 and eighth in the Big 12, averaging just 1.54 sacks per game. 

There is hope the Red Raiders' pass rush will improve with the development of Tyree Wilson, who led the team with seven sacks a season ago. Jesiah Pierre will also be looked at to provide a consistent pass rush. McGuire moved Pierre from inside linebacker to the edge in order to give the defense an added pass rush option.

Perhaps the most important area for improvement is the turnover margin. The Red Raiders had an average turnover margin of -0.31 in 2021, good for 92nd nationally and seventh in the Big 12. The Red Raiders will not win football games if they continue to turn the ball over on offense. Additionally, they need to find ways to create takeaways on defense. 

There is optimism in the turnover margin category due to expected improved quarterback play as well as the hire of defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, who has a history of creating takeaways.

Pass defense is another area that must improve dramatically. Allowing 268.2 yards through the air per game, the Red Raiders fielded the worst pass defense in the Big 12 last season and one of the worst nationally (119th). 

DeRuyter will earn his paycheck trying to improve the Texas Tech pass defense. Experience in the secondary allows for some ray of hope in this area. 

Finally, the Red Raiders need to get better at 3rd down defense. Last season the Red Raiders were eighth in the Big 12 and 116th overall in 3rd down defense, allowing teams to convert on 44.7% of 3rd down plays. Games are often won or lost on 3rd down. Any amount of improvement in this category will show up on the scoreboard of games. 

Third-down defense is a question mark for every Red Raider fan because DeRuyter does not provide much optimism in this area. His 3rd down defense last year at Oregon ranked worse than Texas Tech’s, allowing teams to convert on 46.0% of their opportunities (118th).

If the Red Raiders can improve in these five areas, they will be a noticeably better football team in 2022. Incremental improvement in these areas should not be difficult for Joey McGuire and his staff, considering how poor the Red Raiders were at each spot a season ago.  

Red Raiders fans will find out if their football team successfully focused on these areas in fall camp once Murray State comes to Jones AT&T Stadium on Sept. 3rd.

You can find Michael Gresser on Twitter @gresser_michael

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