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TCU Football 2023 Opponent Preview: Texas Tech Red Raiders

The Raiders enter 2023 with a lot of hype, and could be one of the best teams in the Big 12.

Syndication: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Annie Rice/Avalanche-Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

After a successful first season in Lubbock, Joey McGuire has been busy on the recruiting trail. The Red Raiders are picking up steam, and they have plenty of reasons to be excited heading into 2023. They’ve got a tough schedule - including an out-of-conference matchup with the Oregon Ducks, but the Red Raiders are serious Big 12 title contenders this year.

TCU All-Time Record against Texas Tech: 30-32-3

Current Streak: TCU has 4 straight wins over Texas Tech

Most Recent Matchup: TCU beat Texas Tech 34-24 last year

Offensive Breakdown

Last year the Red Raiders were a good offense despite playing 3 different quarterbacks throughout the season. Joey McGuire brought an aggressive offensive style, and the Red Raiders went for it on 4th down more than anyone in the country in 2022. As a result, Texas Tech put up 32.6 points per game in conference play, ranking 4th in the Big 12. Tyler Shough was named the starting quarterback during spring practice. Last season he played in 7 games, throwing for 1,290 yards with 7 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He also rushed for 313 yards.

Shough will have plenty of talent around him. The Red Raiders return one of the best receivers in the Big 12 with Jerand Bradley, who caught 51 passes for 744 yards and 6 touchdowns (he’s also 6-5). Tahj Brooks returns at running back after rushing for 695 yards and 7 touchdowns, and he’ll have an offensive line that returns 4 of its 5 starters from last season. Simply put, the pieces are in place for Texas Tech to have one of the best offenses in the country this year.

Matchup With TCU Defense

If TCU is to extend the winning streak to 5 straight they will have to shut down the Texas Tech passing attack. Defenses are going to key on Jerand Bradley all year, and rightfully so, but the Red Raiders have plenty of other weapons in this offense that will need to be shut down. I wouldn’t be surprised if Josh Newton is asked to follow Bradley around and play man, and if that isn’t happening Bradley will almost certainly be bracketed by a safety over the top. This will create playmaking opportunities for the other Texas Tech wide receivers such as Xavier White and Myles Price (combined for 1,084 yards and 5 touchdowns last year).

The most important matchup in this game will be the TCU pass rush against the Tech pass blocking. Last year, the Raiders allowed pressure on 29.2% of their 672 dropbacks, which was 54th among Power Five programs. If the Horned Frogs want to slow down this high-powered offense they will have to create pressure. In turn, pressure could lead to turnovers, which proved crucial in last year’s game (see video below).

Defensive Breakdown

In 2022 the Texas Tech defense was simply not good enough. This has often been the case in Lubbock over the years, but the Raiders allowed 426 yards per game (108th) and 29.2 points per game (93rd) last year. The defensive line returns 6 of its top 7 by snap count, but the loss of Tyree Wilson cannot be understated (video below). The #7 overall pick of the 2022 draft only played 538 snaps at Texas Tech last year, but he created 50 pressures and finished the year with 8 sacks. The Red Raiders will look to Jesiah Pierre, Jaylon Hutchings, and Tony Bradford Jr to step up and create even more pressure than they did last year.

The Linebacker position is probably the weak point of this defense since the Red Raiders lost their top 2 guys by snap count from last year. Jesiah Pierre is being moved from the defensive line to linebacker, and Jacob Rodriguez will step in and play a much bigger role in 2023. In the secondary, Dadrion Taylor-Demerson returns. He led the defense in snap count last year, and he also contributed 81 tackles and 3 interceptions. Texas Tech also returns its top corner Rayshad Williams.

Matchup With TCU Offense

In the game last year, TCU put up 429 yards of offense, and most of those came on the ground. When you play an opponent that does a good job of creating pressure in the passing game, the best way to beat them is by running the ball. With Texas Tech’s inexperience at linebacker, I think this will be the game plan again in 2023.

The TCU offensive line is filled with veterans and will be a strength of the team again this year. The Horned Frogs have a stable of running backs who will all be able to contribute in different ways. With tackles Brandon Coleman and Andrew Coker returning, I’m not sure the Texas Tech pass rush will be a huge problem. I expect the Horned Frogs to be able to put up points against this defense.

Final Thoughts

I expect this game to be yet another high-scoring installment to the Texas Tech/TCU series. Both teams have their strengths and weaknesses that they’ll be able to exploit, and both coaches will probably be aggressive in this game. This will also be a big game in the Big 12 title race. I wouldn’t be surprised if both teams came into this game with less than 2 losses on the year. I know the expectation within both programs is to be playing in AT&T Stadium in December, and this game will be a big one for both involved. I think this will be one of the best TCU games of the 2023 season.