Everybody knows about the gifted quarterback and the coach who looks like he could be the next Bachelor (or at the very least on Bachelor in Paradise), but we wanted some additional information about the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
To get some answers, we contacted Hunter Cooke from our Texas Tech sister site, Viva the Matadors. Cooke talks 2016 expectations, keys to victory for the Red Raiders and what makes Patrick Mahomes so dangerous.
House of Sparky: Coming off a 7-6 season and in Year 4 under Kliff Kingsbury, what were the expectations for this Texas Tech team heading into the season?
Hunter Cooke: I think the only expectations we have are to improve on that 7-6 record. We've seen signs of that improvement slowly coming through, even when our 2015 defense looked just as bad as our 2014 defense. If we improve in terms of wins on the field and stay competitive in losses, I think we're on the right track.
HoS: How do most Texas Tech fans view Arizona State and what do you think their expectations are for this game?
HC: I think as a whole we're underrating Arizona State a little bit, especially at home. Sun Devil Stadium is not an easy place to play, especially when we're in #Pac12AfterDark. Fortunately for us, if there's one team in the nation perfectly suited for #Pac12AfterDark, it's us. I think we expect to win.
HoS: The Red Raiders blew out Stephen F. Austin 69-17 last Saturday, what were your main takeaways from that game?
HC: I know it's just SFA, but our defense looked very improved, especially on the line of scrimmage. Kolin Hill and Ondre Pipkins, two transfers, played excellent for the vast majority of the night. Freshman linebacker Jordyn Brooks was impressive as well. It's the first time in two years since we've had hope on that side of the ball, and hope feels very good.
HoS: We all know about Patrick Mahomes, but who are some other players that ASU fans should keep their eye on during Saturday's game?
HC: I'm a huge fan of Ian Sadler. He's built in the same factory where we build all of our white slot receivers, and he's primed for a big year in his junior season. He'll get a lot of the third down throws. On defense, I like Jah'Shawn Johnson a lot. He's a ball-hawking safety who was one of the lone bright spots on an otherwise horrendous 2015 defense.
HoS: Now we can get to Mahomes, he is one of the best players not only in the Big 12 but the entire country. Where is he most dangerous and where do you think he needs improve the most?
HC: He's dangerous in nearly every facet of the game. He can beat you running or he can beat you throwing. He can beat you from inside the pocket or scrambling. I know it's everyone's tendency to hype up their big player, but Patrick Mahomes does not have many weaknesses.
If I had to pick one, I'd say that sometimes he's too quick on his progressions, but even then it's just a sometimes thing. I honestly think that he's one of, if not the, best quarterbacks in the nation.
HoS: What do you believe are the keys to victory for the Red Raiders?
HC: Defense, defense, defense. The Texas Tech runaway beer truck offense is going to get their points somehow, but we'll need to stop a pretty good Arizona State ground attack if we're going to win.
HoS: Who do you think wins and why Saturday night?
HC: I'm giving it to Texas Tech based on the marked improvement we see in the defense. I don't think anyone in the nation can contain Patrick Mahomes when he starts rolling, and I think the Texas Tech D gets just enough stops to win.