1. The perception is that Texas Tech is the typical throw-it-all-over-the-yard-type of Air Raid team, but this year's Red Raiders are much more balanced. Give Tiger fans an explanation of what's worked for this offense this season?
Pretty much everything. If you take a look at what has happened at Texas A&M over the last few years since Kingsbury has left, it's quite apparent that he may be a more gifted playcaller and offensive mind than even many Tech fans think he is. Our offense is a modified version of an early Leach system during Kingsbury's playing days. In that way it's based off of "run concepts" not "pass concepts". Not to get into it too much, but basically, a lot more happens behind the line of scrimmage than a Mike Leach Air Raid where it's usually beyond the line of scrimmage. So we rely heavily on our receivers to win the one on one battles with a DB and make them miss. Kingsbury has also made it a point to install a running game in the offense. The last head coach at Tech tried, but was unsuccessful. Kingsbury, however, has done it with brilliant results.
2. Tech will be without a starting receiver in Devin Lauderdale. How impactful is that loss?
He's a deep threat and that is the worst of it. He is undersized for a typical outside receiver and has had trouble with consistent play this year being benched on more than one occasion. As the season has gone on, he's been known mostly for his crack-back blocks that leave pursuing tacklers on the ground or helped off the field.
3. What's made Patrick Mahomes II so special this season?
I'm probably the wrong person to ask. He's been good, but there are too many holes in his game at this point in his career to say he was special this season. He does extend the play well and is very elusive. When flushed from the pocket he tries for the homerun 9 out of 10 times. He also runs bigger than he is, often lowering his shoulder into defenders and falling forward which you don't normally expect from a QB. More than anything, is his athleticism which is something prototypical pocket passing QBs at Tech have lacked in the past.
4. Any concern over the coaching staff losing some members, even if they will be coaching in this game?
Not really. It's definitely hard losing some of the players that helped Tech on its rise in the early 2000s, but it's the nature of the business. There is so much fluidity in college football with coaching changes that it really doesn't make much of an impact to be honest. In 2009 and 2012 we had interim head coaches and a mixed up staff and won both of those games. Now going forward into next season, yes. There has been a lot of talk about how the departures will affect recruits this upcoming signing period and the expectation that Kingsbury and Gibbs make some splashes with hires, but that's for another time.
5. Nobody has really held this offense in check -- a season low of just 26 points. But what has worked for the teams that have done better than others, the Oklahomas and West Virginias on the schedule?
Both of those games, we didn't win the battle with our outside receivers. I was at the OU game and I think the majority of our pass plays were screens behind the line of scrimmage. Much like your first question, if we don't win those battles, we put ourselves in horrible down and distances which allow the opposing defense to just send the house on third down and force Mahomes to make a mistake. On the one hand you have how this offense handled Arkansas' defense and on the other how ineffective it was with OU. With LSU being somewhere in between those two, I can see this game playing out exactly as one of those two games did.
6. The defense has just been gashed up and down the field. Any hope of changing that or will the gameplan just be to try and outscore LSU?
Honestly, just try to outscore LSU. Tech can win even when giving up a ton of yards and has shown it can play very good defense as it did against Arkansas earlier this season. Tech has some pretty good talent on that side of the ball, but for whatever reason are constantly out of position. We also tend to play about 3 quarters worth of defense and then collapse so there is that possibility too. I would say, Kingsbury is going to try to hang 70 on LSU and hope the defense holds LSU to 69.