There’s no ease-in game for Texas Tech this time around.
The Red Raiders open up versus Ole Miss at 11 a.m. Central Time on Saturday at NRG Stadium in Houston. It’s the first time since 2013 that Kliff Kingsbury and Texas Tech haven’t started against an FCS opponent.
But Kingsbury said he likes the change.
“Like I’ve said all along, when you’re playing that type of opponent in that type of environment there’s a sense of urgency throughout the offseason, throughout summer training and fall camp that may not be there if you’re playing somebody you feel like you should beat at home,” Kingsbury said. “I think it’s helped us as a program to have that game there knowing that ‘Hey, we better get ready, it’s going to get rolling off the bat.’”
Kingsbury has refused to name a starting quarterback this preseason as sophomores McLane Carter, sophomore Jett Duffey and freshman Alan Bowman have been competing for that role. He said on Tuesday that everyone will find out who the starter is when he runs out for the first offensive play.
However, Kingsbury has also indicated that the offense will look a little different, whoever the QB is. The Red Raiders seem more committed to running the ball than they have been since the Spike Dykes era in the 1990s.
In that sense, Mississippi could be an attractive first opponent as the Rebels struggled to stop the run in 2017. Ole Miss gave up 245 rushing yards per game and 5.4 per carry.
Mississippi will be trying to bolster its run defense, but Kingsbury and the Red Raiders will still try to attack it.
“We feel like we’ll be better overall at running back and obviously the offensive line should be a year better,” Kingsbury said. “Not as much talking about them, but just for us as a team, it would help to be able to run the football even better. So that would be nice to get that rolling early.”
The Red Raiders have a couple of proven RBs in Da’Leon Ward and Tre King, both of whom have been the bell cow of the running game at some point in the last two seasons. They have an experienced offensive line to run behind as Texas Tech returns all five starters, including multiple-year starters Terence Steele and Madison Akamnonu.