Players to Watch: Texas Tech

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Patrick Mahomes, then-freshman Texas Tech quarterback, sets back to pass in the Red Raiders' 34-13 loss to the Longhorns on Nov. 1, 2014.
Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes

 Sophomore Patrick Mahomes has turned into one of the nation’s most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks. Mahomes is third in the nation and second in the Big 12 in total offense with 4,325 total yards. He’s the top passer in the Big 12 with 3,911 yards and 31 touchdowns. He also has 414 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Mahomes threw 13 picks over 11 games — his worst was a four-interception, 233-yard effort in a 63-27 Texas Tech loss to Oklahoma. He came back the next week and put up 480 yards and four touchdowns against Oklahoma State, in addition to running for 47 yards and one score.

Mahomes is at the top of the conference with an average of 355.5 passing yards per game. The Longhorn pass defense gives up an average of 234.5 yards per game — these numbers don’t look good for the notoriously weak Texas secondary.

Running back DeAndre Washington

Senior DeAndre Washington is the Red Raiders’ top running back. He’s the No. 3 rusher in the Big 12 with 1,282 yards and 12 touchdowns. Washington also ranks No. 2 in the conference with 1,572 all-purpose yards. He picked up a season-high 248 rush yards in a 59-44 Texas Tech win over Kansas State. He ran in three scores and averaged 9.2 yards per carry in one of his best performances this season.

The Longhorn defense has allowed opponents to run for 687 yards over the past three games. Texas will have to tighten up its coverage and make key tackles to stop Washington and the Red Raider offense.

 Wide receiver Jakeem Grant

 Texas Tech runs a true air-raid offense, and senior receiver Jakeem Grant is a big factor to its success. Grant is Texas Tech’s leading receiver with 1,038 yards and six touchdowns. He’s averaging
94.4 yards per game and 13.3 yards per reception. Grant is a threat as a receiver and on special teams as a kick returner. He’s accumulated 896 kick return yards and averages 26.4 yards per return. Grant gashed Oklahoma State on Halloween with a 100-yard return for a touchdown — he racked up 210 all-purpose yards against the Cowboys in the first quarter alone. Texas’ special teams play has struggled this season, and the secondary isn’t the strongest facet of the team, either. Containing Grant could be one of the toughest tasks the Texas defense has faced this season.

Linebacker Pete Robertson

 Senior linebacker Pete Robertson anchors the Texas Tech defense. He leads the Red Raiders with 13 tackles for loss for total losses of 40 yards — good for a No. 4 ranking in the Big 12. He’s also registered five sacks for a loss of 23 yards. Texas quarterbacks have been sacked 27 times so far this season. The Longhorn offensive line has been inconsistent at best, and Robertson will look to take advantage of that to get at redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard.