2012 Texas Tech Preview - Shootout Time
Texas Tech QB Seth Doege
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Texas Tech Red Raiders
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How can Texas Tech become Oklahoma State?
Head coach: Tommy Tuberville
3rd year: 13-12
17th year overall: 123-72
Returning Lettermen: 49
Lettermen Lost: 24
Ten Best Texas Tech Players
1. WR Darrin Moore, Sr.
2. QB Seth Doege, Sr.
3. S Cody Davis, Sr.
4. RB Eric Stephens, Sr.*
5. WR Eric Ward, Jr.
6. LB Will Smith, Jr.
7. S D.J. Johnson, Sr.
8. DE Branden Jackson, RFr.
9. P Ryan Erxleben, Jr.
10. QB Michael Brewer, RFr.
* if healthy
Sep. 1 Northwestern State
Sep. 8 at Texas State
Sep. 15 New Mexico
Sep. 22 OPEN DATE
Sep. 29 at Iowa State
Oct. 6 Oklahoma
Oct. 13 West Virginia
Oct. 20 at TCU
Oct. 27 at Kansas State
Nov. 3 Texas
Nov. 10 Kansas
Nov. 17 at Oklahoma St
Nov. 24 Baylor (in Arlington)
Besides getting Mike Gundy to come in as the head coach, what can Texas Tech do to go from being a bit of a novelty act to a real, live Big 12 title contender? The program might have seemed like it was close in 2008, but Oklahoma and Ole Miss showed just how far it really was from being a powerhouse. The winning seasons have been there, and bowl games are a regular enough occurrence that last year's collapse was a stunning disaster, but what has to happen to get to the next level? Is it even possible? If Oklahoma State could put together a Big 12 champion while operating just down the road from Oklahoma, then Texas Tech has to hope it can come up with the right formula to finally be strong enough to push Texas, OU and now OSU to be a regular player in the conference chase.
Oklahoma State gets the NFL talent on a regular basis that Texas Tech doesn't seem able to get, but the Red Raiders are always just talented enough to hang around with just about everyone in the league. You don't beat Oklahoma last year like that unless you can play a little bit. The key for embattled coach Tommy Tuberville will be to keep everyone alive and healthy after getting pummeled by various injuries last season. But still, even though the defense had the biggest hand in the collapse – finishing last in the nation in run defense and 114th in total D – the offense didn't exactly show up over the last month, either.
If Texas Tech is going to own the role as an offensive juggernaut, it has to have the offense in the Big 12 and it has to be prepared to win shootout after shootout. That was tough last season in the same league as Robert Griffin III and an Oklahoma State attack that averaged almost 50 yards and 15 points more per game than the Red Raiders. It's going to be even tougher now that West Virginia is bringing its high-octane attack to the conference, but Tech will still be Tech with the way it wings the ball around the yard. Unfortunately, 350-yard passing game are the norm in the Big 12's world, and while throwing for 345 yards per game and finishing seventh in the nation like Tech did last year was impressive, it was still only the fourth-best passing team in the conference.
This year, QB Seth Doege has the experience and the ability to take the passing attack to a whole other level and start to do what it used to be able to crank out under Mike Leach. The receiving corps has the potential to be the best it has been since Michael Crabtree was doing his thing, and if the running backs can stay healthy there might actually be some more balance to the attack. The O line is big, but it has to be more physical for the ground game to go along with everything it does to keep the quarterback clean.
And then there's the defense.
Anyone who wanted to run the ball had no problem pounding away, while the secondary got roasted on a regular basis giving up big play after big play. While the D should be better – it can't be any worse – it has to be a whole bunch better to make any sort of a dent after giving up 52 points to Texas, 66 to Oklahoma State and 66 to Baylor over the final month of the season.
No, it's not going to be a Big 12 title season, and Texas Tech isn't going to be Oklahoma State for now, but for the immediate future of the program this is a big, big year. It's do or die time for the Tuberville era, but for the program it's time to show that the potential is there to grow into a possible champion. The proverbial big step forward has to be made.
What to watch for on offense: The running back health. The passing game will be the Texas Tech passing game. Seth Doege is a good bomber who should be more consistent and more solid, and the receiving corps will be terrific with Eric Ward, Alex Torres and Darrin Moore all terrific. Is anyone going to be healthy enough to run the ball? Eric Stephens is the team's best back, but he suffered a dislocated knee that seems to be taking its time to heal. DeAndre Washington is also trying to come back from a knee injury. SaDale Foster is a nice-looking new option who can do a little of everything, but the running game could really use a few more options with Stephens and Washington needing to be able to go.
What to watch for on defense: The 4-3. Nothing has really worked over the last several years for the Red Raider defense. It has been able to get into the backfield from time to time, but it hasn't done anything to stop the run. It's all about the health of the key players after being devastated over the last two seasons. With a huge drop-off from the ones to the twos, and not enough depth across the board, forming a good rotation and keeping everyone fresh has been an issue. This year, new defensive coordinator Art Kaufman will be a bit more traditional. The pass defense will always have problem – it's the Big 12 – but the front seven has to be more physical. Kaufman's first job will be to toughen things up on the line to start establishing a tone early on. Unless everyone is healthy, that's far easier said than done.
The team will be far better if … the passing game goes absolutely ballistic. Texas Tech isn't going to win any 13-10 slugfests; the defense just isn't going to improve enough. Doege and the passing game can't just put up 350 yards per game; it has to blow up for 400+ and control the clock and the tempo to win. Monster games didn't ensure success – the Red Raiders lost to Kansas State after throwing for 461 yards – but it gives the team a shot. The one time Tech won without a big passing game yardage-wise it got an efficient and effective performance from Doege and the running game had its best game of the year. Texas Tech is what it is, and it has to aim for 400 yards against the better teams to have a shot.
The schedule: The Red Raiders will be better. They have to be with almost everyone returning on defense and with the offense full of veterans and loaded up for the passing game. The schedule should help the cause as Tuberville tries to get off the hot seat.
It's Texas Tech, so the non-conference schedule isn't exactly a challenge with Northwestern State, at Texas State, and New Mexico before getting a week off to rest up after the oh-so-taxing start.
There are only four road games in conference play with Texas, Oklahoma, and West Virginia all having to make the trip to Lubbock. It's dicey in the middle of the year with back-to-back road games at TCU and Kansas State before hosting Texas. There aren't any weeks off over the nine game conference slate, but the Red Raiders close out with three of the final four games at home.
Best offensive player: Senior WR Darrin Moore. QB Seth Doege will put up the big numbers and he'll be the catalyst who makes everything go, but it's Moore who'll help make him look great. He might have been the third-best receiver on the team last season, but that's because he got hurt and wasn't quite right the rest of the way. At 6-4 and 214 pounds he's big, has great hands, and appears to be ready to bust out and become one of the Big 12's new superstars. With great receivers to help take the heat off – a case could be made that Eric Ward is the team's best target – he'll destroy single coverage.
Best defensive player: Senior S Cody Davis. The defensive was so lousy that Davis and the secondary had to do way too much to help out against the run. He was also the key line of defense for a pass defense that gave up too many grabs and big plays. Davis might not be an elite playmaker when the ball is in the air, and he might need to start coming up with a few picks, but he's a great hitter and a peerless open field tackler with 72 unassisted stops and 93 tackles on the year.
Key player to a successful season: Junior DE Dartwan Bush. The run defense has to be night-and-day better, and being physical is a must, but the pass rush also needs to show up after cranking out just 16 sacks and not enough tackles for loss. The ultra-quick Bush has the tools and the talent to get behind the line on a regular basis. He has to be the one the front seven works around, and in the new 4-3, he'll be turned loose on the outside with his lone goal to hit the quarterback early and often.
The season will be a success if … The Red Raiders win eight games. Will getting to six wins and a bowl game be enough for Tuberville to keep his job? Probably not, but eight wins would be the positive step forward the program needs. Going 4-0 against a light September is a must with the Big 12 big boys coming up. There can't be any misfires against Northwestern State, Texas State, New Mexico, Iowa State and Kansas, and Tech has to beat Baylor at home. It will take a few upsets, but eight wins for a team with this much experience is possible.
Key game: Oct. 13 vs. West Virginia. If all goes according to plan, Texas Tech beats Iowa State and is unbeaten before hosting Oklahoma. A repeat upset after last year is asking for too much, but 4-1 wouldn't be bad before the Mountaineers come to town. The two programs played once in the 1938 Sun Bowl – a 7-6 West Virginia win – but the stakes are far higher this time around with each team realistically needing the victory to have any hope of sticking around in the Big 12 title chase.
2011 Fun Stats:
- Time of Possession: Opponents 31:41 – Texas Tech 28:19
- Rushing Yards: Opponents 3,106 – Texas Tech 1,502
- 4th Down Conversions: Opponents 13-of-20 (65%) – Texas Tech 9-of-20 (45%)
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