WVU football 2023 opponents – Texas Tech: Red Raiders expected to bring offensive firepower

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia will open its Big 12 slate at home this season, but it won’t likely be a relaxing experience for the Mountaineer defense.
WVU’s first league test is Sept. 23 at Milan Puskar Stadium against Texas Tech, which had one of the best offenses in the conference last year in its first season under coach Joey McGuire and offensive coordinator Zach Kittley.
WVU has yet to beat the Red Raiders under coach Neal Brown. The most recent meeting was a 48-10 shellacking last year in Lubbock, Texas.
Texas Tech finished 8-5, with wins in its final four games, including a 42-25 victory over Ole Miss in the Texas Bowl. The Red Raiders were picked fourth in the Big 12 in media preseason polling.
The Red Raiders will head to Wyoming, host Oregon and take on Tarleton State at home leading up to the Big 12 opener for both teams in Morgantown. Texas Tech enters the second season under McGuire with plenty of optimism with 18 starters returning.
“Well, I don’t want to say y’all are wrong, but you know, it is,” McGuire said at conference media days at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. “If you go back and look, K-State and TCU, I don’t know where they were picked last year. I heard [Horned Frogs coach] Sonny [Dykes] yesterday talk and maybe he said they were seventh, and they had such a great year.
“I do think it’s a wide-open conference. I think for us, we have to stay healthy. I know this is going to be coach-speak, but we really do have to handle the expectation that maybe a lot of guys on our roster have not had before. We’ve got to stay humble. But we’ve got a really good opportunity to be a really good football team.”
Tyler Shough is back as the starting quarterback after throwing for 1,304 yards and seven touchdowns in seven games last year. Texas Tech also has Behren Morton, who threw for 1,117 yards and seven scores in nine games, returning. Donovan Smith has transferred to fellow Big 12 member Houston after making four starts for the Red Raiders last fall.
“I think we’re the only team in the conference that has two quarterbacks that have won Big 12 games,” McGuire said. “Not being high recruits, but have actually played and won Big 12 games. So I feel like we have as good, if not the best, quarterback room not only in the Big 12, but in the country, and I’m excited about both of those guys. Tyler is such a leader for this team, and he’s going to have a great year for us.”
Texas Tech had the fourth-highest scoring offense in the Big 12 at 34.2 points per game and the second-best total offense at 461.4 yards per game in the first season with Kittley as coordinator. He now enters his third season as an FBS offensive coordinator after holding the same role at Western Kentucky in 2021, when Hilltopper quarterback Bailey Zappe broke FBS single-season records for passing yards and passing touchdowns.
The Red Raiders have nine of their top 10 pass-catchers back from a season ago — led by Jerand Bradley and his 744 yards and six touchdowns on 51 receptions — and brought in FCS standout Drae McCray from Austin Peay. McCray had more than 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns in his two seasons with the Governors.
Leading rusher Tahj Brooks is also back for the Red Raiders after racking up 691 yards and seven scores on 147 attempts in an offense under Kittley known for its aerial attack and willingness to keep the offense on the field.
The Red Raiders led the nation in fourth-down attempts last season and paced the league with 302 yards per game through the air.
“It goes to what we’re doing at Texas Tech, what we believe in, and man, I have such a great offensive coordinator. I think he’s one of the brightest coaches in America in Zach Kittley,” McGuire said. “The way he’s been able to adapt to some of my philosophies in the way he calls the game, I see us doing the same thing.”
Texas Tech ranked seventh in the league in scoring defense a season ago, allowing 29.2 points per game. The Red Raiders return six defensive starters and worked in the offseason to add depth to the secondary through the transfer portal.
The Red Raiders ranked ninth in the nation in red zone defense and led the league with 31 sacks, but will be without defensive end Tyree Wilson — the seventh pick in this year’s NFL draft — after he accounted for seven of his team’s sacks a season ago.
“We’re an aggressive group as a whole anyway,” McGuire said. “Our defense believes in that. That’s one thing you have to have. You have to have a defense that believes in that. [Defensive coordinator Tim] DeRuyter believes in it, our players believe in it, so we’ll continue to do it.”

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