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August 29, 2011

FIVE: Tech-TSU storylines

There are just five days left until the Texas Tech football team kicks off its 2011 season against Texas State. We continue our countdown to kickoff by looking at five key storylines heading into the opener.

1. Doege takes over. Seth Doege has started one game -- against Kansas in 2009 -- since his sophomore year of high school. That all will change on Saturday, as he'll open the 2011 season as Texas Tech's starting quarterback against Texas State. Even though the Red Raider offense still has some questions, Doege is not expected to be seriously challenged by the Bobcats. The biggest question this weekend will not be whether or not Doege can lead Tech to a win -- that seems almost assured given the opponent -- but how he looks in the process.

2. Depth on the offensive line. The Red Raiders' offensive line began fall camp as the strength of the team and, within two weeks, had developed into a huge concern. Within the first two weeks of camp, center Justin Keown went down with a knee injury and is expected to miss at least four to six weeks, and Tony Morales suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Yikes. Tech enters the first game of the season with two true freshmen -- Le'Raven Clark and Alfredo Morales -- in the two deep. If Saturday's game against Texas State gets out of hand, how will Tech handle rotation on the line?

3. Debut of Glasgow's 4-2-5. Chad Glasgow is the Red Raiders' third defensive coordinator and third defensive scheme in three years. From a statistical standpoint, the last two seasons have been, depending on the week, somewhere between average and terrible. Truth be told, Tech's roster is much better suited to Glasgow's 4-2-5 than the 3-4 and even 4-3 that they've run over the past two seasons. Given the team's schedule, and the high-powered nature of the Big 12, it's probably too much to expect the Red Raiders to post a top 50 defense in 2011, but even a top 75 unit would be a huge improvement.

4. Youth movement. Tech's two-deep on both sides of the ball is dominated by freshmen and sophomores. A young team can be exciting to watch because fans can see them develop and improve week after week, but that same youth will also be a source of frustration at times because of inexperience. Red Raider fans will need to take the good with the bad this fall, but can expect Tommy Tuberville's team to be vastly improved at the end of the season.

5. Defensive line unleashed. Perhaps the biggest difference between this year's Tech football team and last year's is depth on the defensive line. Heading into 2011, the Red Raiders are legitimately two-deep at every position up front with Big 12 caliber defensive linemen. Leon Mackey, the most heralded junior college transfer to sign with Tech since Robert Johnson in 2004, will make his Division I debut, as will former Rivals100 prospect Delvon Simmons and junior college transfer Dennell Wesley. Considering what went on up front last year, just watching those three do work will be worth the price of admission on Saturday.

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