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ASU Football Opponent Primer: Texas Tech Red Raiders

The Sun Devils head deep in the heart of Texas on Sept. 16.

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State 2017 Football Schedule

New Mexico State (Aug. 31) — Read

San Diego State (Sept. 9) — Read

At Texas Tech (Sept. 16)

Oregon (Sept. 28)

At Stanford (Sept. 30)

Washington (Oct. 14)

At Utah (Oct. 21)

USC (Oct. 28)

Colorado (Nov. 4)

At UCLA (Nov. 11)

At Oregon State (Nov. 18)

Arizona (Nov. 25)

Texas Tech’s 2016 season

Texas Tech finished last season at 5-7, missing a bowl game for the second time in three seasons.

The Red Raiders had one goal a season ago: score. Texas Tech scored 50 or more points six times, going 4-2 in those games. But that’s when the fun ended. The ineffective Red Raider defense did not generate enough stops to stay competitive, no matter how many times the offense crossed the goalline.

Key losses:

QB Patrick Mahomes II — The best quarterback in the Big 12 is now with the Kansas City Chiefs and Kliff Kingsbury has to find a new signal caller. Mahomes was responsible for 53 total touchdowns a season ago, leaving big shoes to fill for whoever steps behind center week one for Texas Tech.

WR Jonathan Giles — Along with the man throwing the ball leaving is the one who caught the most passes from him. Giles in on his way to LSU after a nice season during which he caught 69 balls for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns. The emerging star one the outside will sit out 2017 while his former team figures out who will take on the receiving load.

LB Malik Jenkins — The linebacker was third on the team in tackles in 2016, recording 53 solo stops and two and a half tackles for loss. Against the Sun Devils, Jenkins made eight tackles in a loss last September.

Key returners:

WR Dylan Cantrell — In 10 games a seaon ago, Cantrell proved himself a dependable receiving option for Texas Tech. He finished 2016 with 58 grabs for 675 yards and eight touchdowns. Alongside fellow returners Cameron Batson and Keke Coutee, Cantrell will be an important piece in ensuring the continued execellence of the Red Raider attack.

LB Jordyn Brooks — While Jenkins is gone, Brooks was more productive at the position a season ago. Brooks led the Red Raiders with 86 total tackles and was second on the team with five stops for a loss. Brooks also forced a fumble and intercepted a pass.

Reasons for optimism: Kalen Ballage bullied his way through the Red Raiders a season ago, and Texas Tech hasn’t done much to improve its defensive front. The loss of Mahomes to the NFL means the engine of the Red Raider offense needs to be replaced during the offseason. The Sun Devils are the first Power 5 team Texas Tech faces, so there’s a chance to catch the offense before they begin to click.

Reasons for pessimism: ASU has similar quarterback issues, and if whoever takes snaps to begin the season struggles, the offense could stall. But that’s far from the biggest problem against Texas Tech. The ASU secondary is a shell of its former self, which is saying something after last season’s disaster on the backend. If the Sun Devils can’t come together quickly to start the season, the pass-happy Red Raiders will zoom past them.