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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, August 30, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gerald J. Ford Stadium (32,000) -- Dallas, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: TTU 0-0, SMU 0-0. Away Record: TTU 0-0, SMU 0-0. Neutral Record: TTU 0-0, SMU 0-0. Conference Record: TTU 0-0, SMU 0-0. Series Record: Texas Tech leads, 32-16.
GAME NOTES: Kliff Kingsbury will make his debut on the sidelines as his Texas Tech Red Raiders visit Lone Star State rival SMU Mustangs at Gerald J. Ford Stadium to begin the 2013 season.
A former record-setting quarterback at TTU from 1998-2002, Kingsbury is making his head coaching debut this season after serving as co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at both Houston and Texas A&M the last four years. He has mentored former UH standout Case Keenum, and was instrumental in helping A&M's Johnny Manziel win the 2012 Heisman Trophy. He replaced Tommy Tuberville, who left for Cincinnati prior to the team's 34-31 Meineke Car Care Bowl win over Minnesota.
Kingsbury will go against a very experienced counterpart in June Jones, who took the Mustangs to a bowl game for the fourth straight season in 2012. SMU won two of its final three games, including an upset of Tulsa, to become bowl eligible and then coasted to a 43-10 win over Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl. Jones is 31-34 in five seasons at SMU, but has a 107-75 career record overall, which includes his nine-year stint at Hawaii.
TTU has won the last 14 meetings between these schools with the most recent coming in 2008 when the Red Raiders completed a 43-7 rout of the Mustangs. SMU is 16-32 in its history versus TTU.
Kingsbury has a sophomore quarterback with plenty of potential to be the next great passer at TTU in Michael Brewer. He has some big shoes to fill as replacing Seth Dodge's 4,205 yards and 39 touchdowns will be no easy task. The Red Raiders had the second best passing offense in the nation in 2012 with 355.9 yards per game and finished 13th in total offense (495.9 ypg). Brewer went 34-of-48 for 375 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in limited action.
Eric Ward is set to assume the role of go-to-guy after logging 82 grabs for a team-high 1,053 yards and 12 TDs. Last season, Ward and Darrin Moore formed a dynamic receiving duo. Moore's graduation opens up the door for Jakeem Grant to become a much bigger contributor.
The TTU running game has played second fiddle to the high-flying aerial attack in recent years, and that will likely continue with a former gun slinger taking over control of the program. Still, the Red Raiders are fortunate to have junior Kenny Williams back after he rushed for a team-best 824 yards and crossed the goal line five times in 2012.
The Red Raiders' strength on defense last season was against the pass, the team permitting an average of just 192 ypg to rank first in the Big 12 and 15th nationally. The effort against the run was not as great as opponents racked up 175.3 yards per game on the ground.
TTU has eight starters back, but the school introduced Matt Wallerstedt as its fifth defensive coordinator in as many years over the offseason. The new leader of the defense will without a doubt utilize senior end Kerry Hyder, who registered 56 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, 14 stops behind the line of scrimmage and four pass breakups in 2012.
Senior linebacker Will Smith has a strong chance of leading the squad in tackles this season under a Wallerstedt, who was a four-year letterman and All- American honorable mention playing the same position at Kansas State in 1987.
TTU's rookie coaching staff does not have an easy matchup to begin its tenure. SMU is looking to continue its 2012 success it found in the C-USA as it migrates to the American Athletic Conference. Former Texas Longhorns quarterback Garrett Gilbert had an up-and-down first year as a starter at SMU. He completed just 53 percent of his pass attempts last season, while having the same amount of passing touchdowns as interceptions (15). Gilbert, who also rushed for eight scores, will need to make strides as the Mustangs play their first season of the post Zach Line era.
Line was one of the top rushers in the C-USA in his final three years. Another former Longhorn, Traylon Shead, is expected to become the team's new workhorse. The former four-star recruit didn't receive a single carry in two year's at Texas. The 6-2, 230-pound tailback at one time held the Texas high school state record for touchdowns.
In the receiving corps, Jeremy Johnson led SMU with 787 yards and five touchdowns last season, ranking second on the team with 64 receptions. He will be back, as will speedster Der'Rikk Thompson, who pulled in 41 balls for 535 yards a year ago.
SMU was solid against the run last year, ranking at the top of C-USA and 15th nationally in rush defense (117.9 ypg). The Mustangs were atrocious against passing attacks though, allowing 278.2 yards per contest. The key members of the pass rush all need to be replaced as all three players with multiple sacks in 2012 graduated.
Randall Joyner is the team's leading returning tackler (93) and can also be a factor in coverage as he collected three interceptions. Stephon Sanders had 48 tackles, 5.5 of which went for a loss.
The Red Raiders have a more talented roster, but their offensive system relies so heavily on the quarterback, one that is a first-time starter for their opener. Brewer could have a very memorable day if he settles in and finds the gaping holes in SMU's defense. This is also a very important game for Gilbert, who was a blue chip prospect coming into college. The Mustang QB has all the physical tools to continue his career in the professional ranks, but he needs show an improvement in his throwing accuracy and decision making to draw attention from NFL scouts.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas Tech 41, SMU 35
08/28 10:42:22 ET
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