Texas Tech Red Raiders at SMU Mustangs Free Pick 8/30/13

Texas Tech Red Raiders at SMU Mustangs Free Pick 8/30/13
2013-08-30 07:00:00 EDT

The Texas Tech Red Raiders open their 2013 season Friday with a visit to Dallas and the Southern Methodist University Mustangs.

New Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, a former Red Raiders QB, will look to exploit an SMU secondary that finished near the bottom of the FBS last season, ranked 109th out of 119 teams. Untested Sophomore QB Michael Brewer, 375 YDS and 4 TDs on 70.8% passing in 2012, will get the start and hope to reignite an explosive Texas Tech passing attack that averaged a stellar 356 passing yards per game for second in the nation last season. The return of Senior WR Eric Ward, who caught 82 balls for 1,053 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, and pro prospect TE Jace Amaro, 25 receptions for 409 yards and 4 touchdowns, should make Brewer’s transition that much easier. Brewer should also get a boost from a stable of young, talented running backs, led by Jr. RB Kenny Williams, who rushed for 824 yards and 5 touchdowns last season. SMU fielded a stout run defense in 2012, finishing 15th in the country in average yards allowed per contest, but replaces five of their front seven so this could be another facet Tech can exploit.

Defensively, the Red Raiders return some key talent from a stifling unit that finished second in the Big 12 in total yards allowed. New defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt will be up against Senior SMU QB Garret Gilbert, who finished with 2,932 YDS, 15 TDS and 15 INTs last season, while leading the nation’s 62nd ranked passing attack. The Mustangs also return their leading receiver from a year ago, Sr. Jeremy Johnson, 67 catches, 679 yards, 3 touchdowns. The Red Raiders, though, return half of a secondary that topped the Big 12 last season at 192 yards per game.  Tech also appears to be in good shape in facing an SMU backfield that lost its leading rusher from a year ago and has JUCO transfer Traylon Shead and Redshirt freshman Prescott Line at the top of its depth chart. The Mustangs also return leading rushers Soph. RB Luke Seeker and Jr. Rishaad Wimbley, who combined for just 87 yards and 1 touchdown on 22 carries, while the SMU O-Line returns just two starters.

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SMU head coach June Jones has done a decent job with the program over the past four years, compiling a 30-23 record and ensuring a Mustangs bowl bid in each of those years. But even though Kliff Kingsbury is just entering his first season as the head man in Lubbock, there’s just too much offensive firepower for a defense that’s lost just about all of its front seven from a year ago and  has a suspect secondary. Even a likely drop-off in the passing game for Texas Tech is more than SMU can contend with. The Red Raiders cover the spread and then some.

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Mitch Wilson's Free Pick:
Texas Tech -2.5
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Mitch Wilson

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