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Red Raiders Week 1 Opponent Preview: Murray State Racers

The Red Raiders will kick off the season at AT&T Jones Stadium against FCS Murray State

Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither will Texas Tech football in the first season of the Joey McGuire era. Then again, who's to say that his demeanor, recruiting style, and enthusiasm won't be enough to make the Red Raiders interesting in 2022? 

For the first time in what feels like ages, there's a sense of pride in Lubbock. The Red Raiders are coming off their first winning season since 2015 and have one of the state's top recruiters as head coach. McGuire currently is building a steady class for the impending 2023 season and has two strong options to work around at quarterback with Donovan Smith and Tyler Shough. 

What's holding the Red Raiders back? Well, life still is a challenge in the Big 12. It'll be a year or two before Tech can be mentioned among those looking for 10-win seasons on the regular. Just making a bowl game for a second consecutive season will probably suffice. And at least the McGuire welcome party should end on a positive note Week 1 against FCS opponent Murray State.   

Be sure to stick with as we preview every aspect of the matchup with the Racers throughout the week

Murray State Racers

2021 Record: 6-5 (3-3 in Ohio Valley Conference)

Head coach: Dean Hood

Hood is 11-7 in two seasons as the Racers' head coach

Offensive Set: power run-heavy offense

Defensive Set: 3-4

Returning starters on offense: N/A

The Racers finished the season on a strong note against Eastern Illinois, Tennessee Tech, and Southeast Missouri State. That said, Murray State is limited when it comes to its passing attack. The Racers recorded 14 interceptions against five touchdown passes combined by D.J. Williams and Preston Rice. 

Murray State predominantly relied on its rushing attack for offensive production. Three rushers recorded at least 285 yards on the ground and averaged 4.3 yards per attempt. Damonta Witherspoon will return to the backfield after recording a team-high 912 yards on the ground last season. 

Projected offensive starters:

QB DJ Williams -or- Preston Rice 

RB Damonta Witherspoon

RB Cortezz Jones 

WR (Z) LaMartez Brooks

WR (X) Jacob Bell

TE (Y) Jake Saathoff

TE (H) Cole McDowell

LT Jacob Frye

LG Darian Weedman

C Levi Nesler

RG Henry Kofowo

RT Rodreques Boller

Returning starters on defense: N/A

One of the biggest areas of weakness for the Racers was their inability to pressure the quarterback. Cornerback Marcis Floyd led the charge with three takedowns while three other players tallied only two apiece. 

Opponents averaged 25.7 points per game and averaged 185.9 passing yards per game when facing the Racers' defense. Floyd, who also led the team in pass deflections (9) and interceptions (2), transferred this offseason to West Virginia. Rising senior Quinaz Turner will take over as the team's top defensive back. 

Projected defensive starters

DL: Nate Chambers 

DL: Damonyai Lacey

DL: Zack Aschemann

EDGE: Scotty Humpich

ILB: Eric Samuta 

LB: Darnell Victor 

EDGE: Lawaun Powell

CB: Quinaz Turner

S: Jamari Dailey

S: Jarad McCray 

CB: Davontae McKee

NICKEL: Cayvian Holmes

Follow Cole Thompson on Twitter at @MrColeThompson

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