LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -
Year two of the Kliff Kingsbury era has been among the most anticipated in Texas Tech football history.
Thankfully, the wait is finally over.
The Red Raiders kick off the season Saturday evening at Jones AT&T Stadium against Central Arkansas. It's the first chance to see a new-look Texas Tech team eager to build off last year's triumphant Holiday Bowl victory over Top 25 Arizona State.
"I know these guys are ready," Kingsbury said. "They've been going against our defense since June, really - 7 on 7 and team drills they've been doing on their own. So they're going to see another colored jersey and I'm sure they'll be ready to get after it."
Of course, Texas Tech will be heavy favorites against their FCS opponent Saturday, but don't expect the Red Raiders to take the Bears lightly. Central Arkansas returns several key players from a team last year that averaged 33 points per game. They enter the season receiving votes in the FCS preseason Top 25 poll.
"They are coming in with nothing to lose so we are expecting them to come in and lay it all on the line," Running Back DeAndre Washington said. "We know we are going to get their best punch, their hardest punch. We're looking forward to it and we are definitely looking forward to punching back."
Texas Tech's offense is pretty good too. After leading the Big 12 in passing yards a season ago, while racking up nearly 36 points per game, the Red Raiders look to be even more prolific this season behind much improved sophomore quarterback Davis Webb. Webb has been praised for his work this offseason by his teammates. He's one of four team captains and is making throws in practice that have his teammates like Jared Kaster saying things like "that's the stuff you see on Sunday's."
Not to mention he has a full grasp of coach Kingsbury's air-raid offense.
"Just being more comfortable with this system in Year Two, watching more film and understanding checks has helped," Webb said. "If Coach Kingsbury gets us in a play and maybe another play might be a little better, I have the freedom to do that as long as it works out."
Webb's knowledge of the offense is exactly what Kingsbury wants from his quarterback and is a stark contrast to last year.
"It's night and day," Kingsbury said. "Davis will wave me off on play calls now if he sees stuff. That's when it gets really fun."
Chances are the defense will be what makes or breaks this season for Texas Tech. While the Bears won't pose the kind of threat Tech will face once Big 12 play begins, the Red Raider defense could use a strong showing to get the season started the right way. With several newcomers across the defensive line and a young secondary, a good performance would set the right tone for the season ahead.
"Central Arkansas is a great group that does a lot of great things," Defensive End Branden Jackson said. " They run and pass the ball and have a lot of different schemes, so we have to be gap sound and read our keys and things like that. It will be interesting to see how we're going to stop that offense."
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. Saturday night at Jones AT&T Stadium.
KCBD's Raider Zone coverage will keep you updated all through Texas Tech game day starting with Daybreak Saturday at 8 a.m.