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2011 Texas Tech Preview
Texas Tech RB Eric Stephens
Texas Tech RB Eric Stephens
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 29, 2011


The first year under Tommy Tuberville wasn't awful, but it wasn't specical with a defense that couldn't stop anyone's passing game and an inconsistent offense that struggled against the better teams. With seven starters returning on each side of the ball, and with a few tweaks in the coaching staff, can the Red Raiders make more Big 12 noise? Check out the CFN 2011 Texas Tech Preview.


Texas Tech Red Raiders

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Tommy Tuberville
2nd year: 8-5
16th year overall: 118-65
Returning Lettermen: 49
Lettermen Lost: 21
Ten Best Texas Tech Players
1. WR Alex Torres, Jr.
2. RB/KR Eric Stephens, Jr.
3. OT LaAdrian Waddle, Jr.
4. S Cody Davis, Jr.
5. DE/LB Sam Fehoko, Sr.
6. OT Mickey Okafor, Sr.
7. QB Seth Doege, Jr.
8. LB Cquilin Hubert, Soph.
9. S Terrance Bullitt, Soph.
10. S D.J. Johnson, Jr.
2011 Schedule

Sep. 3 Texas State
Sep. 10 OPEN DATE
Sep. 17 at New Mexico
Sep. 24 Nevada
Oct. 1 at Kansas
Oct. 8 Texas A&M
Oct. 15 Kansas State
Oct. 22 at Oklahoma
Oct. 29 Iowa State
Nov. 5 at Texas
Nov. 12 Oklahoma State
Nov. 19 at Missouri
Nov. 26 at Baylor

Texas Tech can’t play it straight and have any hope of winning the Big 12 title.

The program can’t win too many head-to-head battles with Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M on a regular basis on the recruiting trail, and that’s why the Mike Leach era was such a big deal for Red Raider fans. Leach gave the program an identity, gave it an attitude, and because of the schematic advantage, gave it a chance. Texas Tech could stay with all the big boys and could bomb against anyone, but it’s not like the championships were rolling in.

So if Tech could only come up with a share of a Big 12 South title under Leach, how is it going to compete for the title when it has to go up against nine teams to win the championship? Can Tommy Tuberville somehow keep all the positives from the Leach era, like the high-octane attack, while adding a few wrinkles, like the use of the tight end and more of a running game, to combine with a stronger defense to be a player for the title?

Oh yeah, the defense.

Leach was never known for being a defensive whiz, but his Ds weren’t always miserable. They weren’t great, statistically, but few in the pinball machine-like Big 12 have been great at keeping the yards under wraps over the last few years. 2010, though, was a defensive disaster, but the season still wasn’t that bad with eight wins and a bowl victory. Now it’s time for Tuberville to show that he can do more with the program, and after the problems of last year, he has to show that he can be the one to someday bring a Big 12 title.

No one expected the same sort of offensive pyrotechnics in the first year after Leach, but the passing game was fantastic throwing for 319 yards a game after throwing for 388 two years ago. However, the 2010 offense only averaged ten fewer yards per game than the 2009 version. Under Tuberville, the defense was supposed to be stronger and was supposed to combine with the dangerous offense to bring good results. Instead, the Red Raiders were dead last in the Big 12 in total defense, had the third-worst pass defense in America, and gave up 31 points per game while going 1-4 in Big 12 South play.

Tuberville is a strong head coach who knows how to get the talent to fit what he wants to do, and while you can fill in your own Stanley McClover line here, the players will be in place to keep Texas Tech among the league’s very good. But to get to great, the offense really does have to continue to be quirky-good with the passing game winging the ball all over the field. The special teams have to be a plus, and the defense has to be among the best in the conference. Tuberville isn’t afraid to make major changes when needed, and now that he has a new defensive coordinator in TCU’s Chad Glasgow, there should be enough improvement to expect a few more wins.

A better defense, a still-dangerous offense with more variety and more options, and Tuberville with a year under his belt should all add up to more than eight wins. However, it won’t add up to a BCS bid and a Big 12 title, and it wouldn’t have under Leach, either.

What to watch for on offense: A running game. No, it won’t be Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown like the old Auburn days, but Tuberville would like to keep the fun passing game while adding even more balance from the ground attack. That became evident in the latest recruiting class as he brought in speed, speed, and more speed to start cranking out bigger plays on the ground. Some of the backs will get a look at wideout, but this should be the deepest backfield the Red Raiders have had in years. They’ll get used and won’t simply be along for the ride.

What to watch for on defense: The 4-2-5. As much as it might pain Red Raider fans to acknowledge that TCU is running things better, it’ll all work out if new defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow can bring in what he learned and used in Fort Worth to improve the woeful Tech D. The fifth defensive back will be used in a variety of ways, bringing more speed to help out against the high-powered Big 12 passing attacks along with the strength to hold up against the run. There was a decent pass rush last year, and while that might not be too much better in this alignment, there should be more big plays overall.

The team will be far better if … the pass defense can slow someone down. The Big 12 is a passing league, and while it would be nice to be able to stuff the run, all that matters is getting good play out of the secondary to slow down the better throwing teams. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, and Missouri will all have the ability to put up 300 yards through the air without a problem, and yes, Texas might be able to chuck it, too, if the planets are aligned correctly. Tech, after dealing with a slew of injuries, has GOT to keep the better passing games from doing whatever they want to. The Red Raider D was good on third downs and didn’t give up too many huge plays, but it allowed 300 passing yards or more seven times with Baylor and Texas A&M each going over the 400-yard mark.

The schedule: If the Red Raiders can come up with any semblance of a defense, and if the offense can rebuild, the schedule sets up nicely for a big first half of the season after dumping TCU and keeping the easy non-conference games. The key early on will be to use the first two layups against Texas State and New Mexico to get everything in place, and then hope Nevada didn’t reload by September 24th. If Tech can beat Texas A&M at home on October 8th, there’s a terrific chance it’ll be 6-0 going into the showdown at Oklahoma. While going to Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas are going to be a problem to make a big run at the Big 12 title in the new round-robin format, there are enough winnable home games to hope for a really, really big season. Four of the conference games are at home and five are on the road, but if the Red Raiders are any good, they should be able to handle the extra away date at Baylor.

Best offensive player: Junior WR Alex Torres. He didn’t exactly blow up last year with 39 catches for 481 yards and three scores, but he made 67 catches for 806 yards and six scores two years ago and has shown the ability to come up with big games now and then. Never healthy last year, he’s now back to normal and he should have a breakout campaign as the unquestioned No. 1 target. With great hands, nice route running ability, and speed, he’ll be the receiver the passing game works around.

Best defensive player: Junior S Cody Davis. A few players will fill the role of the third safety in the new defensive style, but Davis will get the main designation in the Weak Safety role and he should shine. The team’s second-leading tackler came up with 87 stops and was great at getting into the backfield from time to time. Now he’ll get to turn it loose as a run stopper and all-around playmaker. He might not have the speed and athleticism to get all over the field, but he’ll be a threat to make 100 tackles.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore S Terrance Bullitt. All eyes will be on QB Seth Doege to see if he can handle the work as the main man to run the offense, but Bullitt needs to be the one who improves the woeful pass defense. He has the 6-3, 191-pound size and he’s a big hitter, but he didn’t do anything when the ball was in the air last season. That’ll change. He was one of the big stars of the offseason, and his emergence and improvement could make all the difference in a turnaround year for the secondary.

The season will be a success if … the Red Raiders win ten games. Other than the relative unknown situation at quarterback, the team should be better across the board and should be favored in six games for sure – Texas State, at New Mexico, Nevada, at Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State – and will likely be favored at Baylor. With Texas A&M and Oklahoma State at home, Tech has to at least get a split, has to win the seven games it should to get in range for a ten-win season. It might take a bowl win to do it, but 10-3 would get everyone fired up about the Tuberville era and where it’s going.

Key game: Oct. 8 vs. Texas A&M. The Red Raiders should start out 4-0, and they should be Kansas State the week after the date with the Aggies. If they can pull off the home win on the eighth, 6-0 is possible going into the road game at Oklahoma in what would be among the biggest games of the first half of the college football season. A&M won 45-27 last year in College Station and have won two straight in the series, but Tech went 4-0 from 2005 to 2008.

2010 Fun Stats:
- 1st Half Scoring: Texas Tech 256 – Opponents 222
- Penalties: Opponents 95 for 838 yards – Texas Tech 78 for 781 yards
- Time of Possession: Opponents 31:47 – Texas Tech 28:12

- 2011 Texas Tech Preview | 2011 Texas Tech Offense
- 2011 Texas Tech Defense | 2011 Texas Tech Depth Chart
- Texas Tech Previews  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006