football Edit

The 3-2-1: Texas Tech ready to roll for kickoff this weekend

College football's kickoff weekend is finally here, and Texas Tech will get its 2016 campaign started Saturday night against Stephen F. Austin.

What were the biggest storylines from the week, what are the biggest questions going into the game, and what can we expect? I take a closer look in this week's 3-2-1.

THREE THINGS WE LEARNED

1 - This team is definitely ready to play

There's always the old trope that players and coaches talk about as game week approaches. You know, the one about being ready to hit somebody other than you teammates, chomping at the bit, all that stuff.

But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm speaking from a preparation and maturity standpoint. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury noted this week that his team was definitely ready to play a game last week, meaning they could've lined up and looked like a competent team both schematically and as a roster.

Kingsbury and his staff have known for well over two weeks who all the players are in the two-deep, and this group is old enough as a whole that they have the system down well enough to not second-guess themselves in a game as a team.

That's encouraging, and I'm intrigued to see if this thing is rolling along like a well-oiled machine against Stephen F. Austin. That's often not the case, as you will see teams across the country sputter along this weekend as they get their feet underneath them.

2 - The competition in the two-deep at receiver is going to rage on all season

That's not a bad thing. This group of pass catchers might be the most talented across the board that it's been in a very, very long time. Kingsbury has made it clear that if a receiver isn't on his A-game, the guy behind him is very likely going to take his starting spot for the week.

That level of intensity with the competition, if it turns out to be true, will mean that the starters each week are playing their best football, and they'll keep doing so to keep their job.

There may not be a more intriguing unit to watch competitively than the receivers this fall.

3 - Brooks emerges ahead of schedule

True freshman linebacker Jordyn Brooks came in as one of the most hyped and ready-made defensive prospects the Red Raiders have signed in a few classes, and fans were eager to see if he could make an impact early on in his career.

Very few, however, likely could've predicted that he'd be starting day one. That's right, Brooks, after steadily improving and making noticeable jumps throughout preseason camp, is now listed as the team's starting middle linebacker, meaning he'll see a ton of action from the get go.

His teammates have raved about him all fall, and now the Houston native will get his chance to show Texas Tech fans just what he's capable of on Saturday.

Seeing how Brooks performs and reacts to this stage will certainly be one of the most interesting storylines to follow this weekend.

TWO QUESTIONS

1 - What are we going to really see from this Texas Tech defense?

While I think turnovers are going to be a given with this unit as long as David Gibbs is in charge, I'm ready to see if I can notice a real difference in this unit and how they play right away. There's been a lot of talk of new-found toughness, depth and experience in year two of the system.

So, does that ultimately mean this unit is going to be noticeably better against the run and get real, meaningful stops? I'm eager to get my first taste.

2 - Do we get a good idea of who the leading receiver for this team is going to be?

I'm guessing probably not, as it could take some time for one or two options to really emerge as the cream of the crop of the pass catchers.

But, what if we do see one of these receivers fire off like a bottle rocket this weekend? It hasn't really happened since Darrin Moore or Jace Amaro established themselves as the alpha males of the unit. Could it be Jonathan Giles? Dylan Cantrell? Derrick Willies? How about Devin Lauderdale, Cam Batson, or KeKe Coutee? Those are the names that could do it, and seeing as there are so many, it's going to be an undoubtedly daunting task to become the guy from day one.

ONE PREDICTION

This Texas Tech defense will earn four turnovers against Stephen F. Austin.

While you might think predicting that many turnovers in a game might be a little rich for your blood, there are several reasons why Gibbs' defense very certainly could end up with four turnovers against the Lumberjacks.

Stephen F. Austin finished 2015 ranked 68th in FCS in turnover margin at minus-1, giving up 10 interceptions and losing 10 fumbles for a total of 20 turnovers lost on the season. The Lumberjacks surrendered 17 in 2014, too. To say SFA fans haven't been thrilled with they way they've protected the ball as of late would be an understatement.

I think this Red Raider defense will be chomping at the bit to get after Stephen F. Austin, and Gibbs's scheme and teachings are specifically designed to make taking the ball away priority number one.

The result? A bevy of extra possessions for Patrick Mahomes.