Fitting the 2023 Texas Tech football season into a neat box isn’t easy. That’s because what the Red Raiders announced last year felt like two different experiences in the same fall.
After starting 1-3 overall and only 3-5 by the time Open Week arrived in late October, the tone and expectations for the season changed dramatically. But the Red Raiders, who finished the season with a 4-1 record, including a win in the Independence Bowl, returned to the postseason and excelled when that opportunity presented itself, making it unlikely that they would make it to the bowl for a long time. Raiderland, which was the minimum standard for the people, was deemed acceptable.
So how you view this year is a matter of perspective and personality. Pessimists will look back at the offseason hype and dwell on the fact that Tech is far from validating it.
Optimists, meanwhile, will take solace in the fact that tech companies posted strong results in November for the second year in a row under Joey McGuire. Those people will find a silver lining in the storm clouds that Tech endured midway through this season, when just about everything went wrong for this program, and perhaps feel good about the overall direction the program is headed. right.
So today, let’s take a step toward that side of the equation and consider what could have been right for the 2023 Red Raiders. Although there was a lot of meat on the bones this fall, there were still some positive developments in technology that could pay off in future seasons. season.
The 2023 team started the year with hopes that its age and experience would be its strengths. But one of the stories this year was the breakthrough of some young players.
Indeed, seniors like safeties Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, Jaylon Hutchings, Tony Bradford Jr. and Taj Brooks did the heavy lifting. However, several juniors also came forward, giving everyone hope that this team will continue to do well.
Of course, redshirt freshman Ben Roberts headlines that group. He entered the season as a virtual unknown, but was forced into a starring role due to an injury to middle linebacker Jacob Rodriguez in Week 1.
He recorded 107 total tackles, 55 of which were solo stops. He also recorded 6.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage on the season and was named the Co-Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year.
Next up is “Duda” Banks. The redshirt sophomore defensive end from Wichita Falls entered late to show he’s ready to step in as a potential starter next fall. He made 15 stops in nine games and caused havoc with 4.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
Brenden Jordan was a bright spot in the secondary. Jordan, who had to play above expectations as a true freshman due to injuries to players like Tyler Owens and Taylor Demerson, recorded 20 tackles on the year and has the ability to hold down a starting job as a sophomore. It was shown that there is.
Finally, Amir Washington excited fans by dominating in the bowl game against California. Playing on the edge of the defensive line for the first time due to an opt-out and injury, he racked up two game-changing sacks and ultimately only scratched the surface of his potential, an underwhelming team in the making. It looked like a powerful force.
On the offensive side, wide receiver Coy Eakin had a great season. He didn’t play until the fourth game of the season, but still had 36 catches for 416 yards and two TDs. Tech brought in a ton of firepower at receiver this offseason, but Eakin looks poised to play a key role in the Red Raider’s passing game in the future after a strong sophomore campaign.
There will be a lot of turnover on this year’s Red Raider roster, especially on defense, with eight key members of the two-deep set to leave the program. But there’s no need to worry too much about who will fill that role, given that so many young players stepped up in the 2023 season, which was supposed to be an upperclassmen-only season.