Lot of balls in air for Texas Tech-SMU opener
Like his coach, SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert laughed when presented with the question of whether he'd take the over or under on the Mustangs and Texas Tech combining to throw at least 80 passes in their season opener.
''It's going to be a lot,'' said Gilbert, who better make sure he warms up his arm.
When they play Friday night, the Mustangs will debut an offense that is a meshing of coach June Jones' ''Run and Shoot'' with the ''Air Raid'' philosophy of new passing game coordinator Hal Mumme.
Kliff Kingsbury, the former Texas Tech quarterback, makes his head coaching debut at his alma mater. He threw for 12,429 yards and 95 touchdowns in 43 games with the Red Raiders, and his big-yardage ode isn't much different as a coach. He was Texas A&M's offensive coordinator last season with Heisman Trophy-winning freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel.
''I think he'll come out throwing and we'll come out throwing,'' Jones said of Kingsbury. ''So it will be a lot (of passes). It will be a long game.''
Gilbert played in a BCS national championship game for Texas before transferring to SMU for his final two seasons.
With presumptive first-time starter sophomore Michael Brewer dealing with a back issue, Kingsbury will send one of two true freshmen out with the first-team offense, a first for the Red Raiders in a season opener. They are one of only eight schools nationally without a quarterback on the roster that has some starting experience, so it will be either Davis Webb or walk-on Baker Mayfield at the helm.
''You don't want them to think too much. It's still playing the game,'' Kingsbury said. ''It's still football. It's going to move around a little faster, but we try to get all these guys a bunch of reps, and I think they'll be ready to go.''
Here are five things to watch when Texas Tech and SMU play:
COORDINATING CHANGES: Matt Wallerstedt is the fifth defensive coordinator in five seasons at Texas Tech. He was the linebackers coach at Texas A&M before leaving with Kingsbury for Lubbock. Wallerstedt had been the defensive coordinator at Wyoming, North Alabama and Air Force. Mumme joined old friend Jones as the Mustangs assistant head coach and passing game coordinator. Mumme and Jones have led some of the most prolific passing offenses in college football - and now they're together. Mumme's offense is known for stretching the field horizontally and Jones has generally gotten down the field vertically.
RED RAIDER DOMINANCE: Texas Tech has won 14 consecutive games when the former SWC rivals have played, a streak that dates to 1989 when they were still in the same league. The Red Raiders lead the overall series 32-16. The Red Raiders have won the last five times they have played SMU in a season opener, by an average margin of four touchdowns. All of those are since 2003.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: The last time Texas Tech played a regular season game on a Friday was Sept. 27, 2002, when Kingsbury was the Red Raiders quarterback. He completed 41 of 59 passes for 407 yards and six touchdowns in a 49-0 victory at New Mexico. It will be Tech's second consecutive Friday game since that was the day of the week of their Meineke Car Care Bowl victory to end last season. SMU last played Friday games in 2010, when the Mustangs lost to TCU and East Carolina.
NEW LEAGUE: SMU kicks off its first season as a member of the American Athletic Conference, made up of the football-playing schools that were left when the basketball-only schools in the Big East left and kept that name. Being in the new league and with a non-conference schedule that also includes road games at seventh-ranked Texas A&M and 20th-ranked TCU, the only opponent the Mustangs play that isn't from an automatic-qualifying BCS conference is Montana State in their next game.
FIRST SCORE WINS? Over the last two seasons, SMU is 15-0 when it scores first and 0-13 when the opponent gets on the board first. That scenario isn't reflective of what Texas Tech will do. The Red Raiders last season were 5-2 when scoring first and 3-3 when they fell behind in the first quarter.
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