2010 Texas Tech Preview
Texas Tech RB Baron Batch
Texas Tech RB Baron Batch
Posted May 31, 2010

A running game? A 3-4 defense? The wishbone? Maybe not the last part, but Texas Tech is planning on using Baron Batch and the ground attack more and is changing around the D a bit, but new head coach Tommy Tuberville will still keep the old passing game. Check out the CFN 2010 Texas Tech Preview.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Preview 2010

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Tommy Tuberville
1st year at Texas Tech 15th year overall: 110-60
Ten Best Texas Tech Players
1. DE/LB Brian Duncan, Sr.
2. NT Colby Whitlock, Sr.
3. QB Taylor Potts, Sr.
4. WR Alex Torres, Soph.
5. WR Detron Lewis, Sr.
6. RB Baron Batch, Sr.
7. QB Steven Sheffield, Sr.
8. LB Bront Bird, Sr.
9. WR Tramain Swindall, Jr.
10. WR Lyle Leong, Sr.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 5 SMU
Sept. 11 at New Mexico
Sept. 18 Texas
Sept. 25 OPEN DATE
Oct. 2 at Iowa State
Oct. 9 Baylor (in Dallas)
Oct. 16 Oklahoma St
Oct. 23 at Colorado
Oct. 30 at Texas A&M
Nov. 6 Missouri
Nov. 13 at Oklahoma
Nov. 20 Weber State
Nov. 27 Houston

It doesn't get a whole lot uglier than the way the Mike Leach era ended.

There's no good guy here. Leach, for all his genius and all his coaching talent, turned out to be too obnoxious for his own good. The school, for whatever reason (mostly monetary, as it would seem), didn't want Leach around and pounced on the first opening it could to justify giving him the boot. And the James family, whether or not tight end/receiver Adam James was thrown in a closet, has become more and more bizarre with every passing comment. Oh yeah, and the 2010 team should be pretty good.

Going forward, the story shouldn't be about whether or not Tommy Tuberville can match Leach's success; it's about whether or not he can make Texas Tech even better. For all the notoriety and for all the great things Leach did to put Texas Tech football on the map, he didn't really win anything major in his ten years at the helm. Oh sure, there was the three-way split for the Big 12 South title in 2008, and as a reward the team got thumped by double digits against Ole Miss in the 2009 Cotton Bowl. Leach's teams put up a bajillion passing yards and were a blast to watch, but Tech never finished in the top ten during his tenure, only finished in the top 20 three times, and only finished higher than third in the Big 12 South three times. There was only one ten-win campaign (despite a heavy helping of cupcakes each and every non-conference season), two wins over Texas and three over Oklahoma, and the lone impressive bowl win of note was a 45-31 beating of Cal in the 2004 Holiday Bowl.

While it's apples and oranges to compare Texas Tech to Auburn when it comes to history and success, Tuberville steps into the job with a proven track record of putting together a great team at a second-fiddle school. Auburn will always be in Alabama's shadow, just like Texas Tech will always be Jan Brady in Texas (and possibly Cindy if and when Texas A&M gets its groove back), yet Tuberville was able to succeed. He beat Alabama on a regular basis, put together an impressive run of five first place SEC West finishes in six seasons, and had his Tigers in the top two in the division during a string of seven times in eight years. One 5-7 season in 2008, and with the ascension of Alabama into a superpower, and it was over for Tuberville on the Plains.

Now he steps into a loaded situation with a cupboard full of veterans on defense, too many excellent skill players to get the ball to on offense, an interesting slew of quarterbacks to play around with, and solid special teams to rely on. Leach, for all his faults, was able to win games even though he didn't always get the top shelf talent, and Tuberville will have to prove he can compete against Texas and Oklahoma despite not having a bunch of four-star A-listers.

However, this is a tough spot in many ways. Because the team has so much returning talent, and because Leach was always able to win eight-plus games, while making it entertaining along the way, any dip at all will be disastrous for Tuberville. There's no grace period and absolutely no honeymoon considering there's a portion of the Red Raider fan base ticked off over losing Leach. Tuberville has to win and win now, and do it with a little flair.

What to watch for on offense: A sped up version of last year's offense. There will be more running than in the Leach era, with the quarterbacks being allowed to take off from time to time and the running backs carrying more of the offensive workload, but the biggest change will be the tempo. New offensive coordinator Neal Brown will be looking to get the offense as many plays as possible with a more frenetic-paced attack that should keep defenses on their toes. It'll be entertaining.

What to watch for on defense: More aggressiveness overall. The defense finished fourth in the nation in sacks and 34th in tackles for loss; getting into the backfield wasn't a problem. However, former defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill was aggressive, but his defenses relied more on pressure up front and defensive backs that kept everything in front of them. Now the corners will be on more of an island, the smallish, athletic linebackers will swarm. The alignment, a 3-4 most of the time but a 4-3 to likely be used when push comes to shove, will give the D a far different look.

The team will be far better if … the offensive line is better. This could be a problem as it appears to be the team's biggest X factor. On the down side, there was no cohesion last year with a slew of injuries and little consistency from one game to the next, but fortunately, the problems allowed several young players to get their feet wet. Now the big, strong, beefy line from the Leach era has to become sleek and athletic to do what Tuberville and Brown would like. The line could be a killer next year with only one senior starter going into 2010, but if everything can come together right away, the offense will continue to explode.

The schedule: The Tommy Tuberville honeymoon period will be about ten minutes with a schedule good enough to hope to stay in the Big 12 title race throughout. The non-conference schedule will be entertaining, even if it won't be that good early with SMU and at New Mexico to start the season and Weber State and the one good matchup, Houston, to close out the regular season. In Big 12 play, the Red Raiders miss Nebraska from the North and get Missouri at home. The one big problem will be the second half of the conference slate with three road trips in four playing at Colorado and at Texas A&M and finishing with at Oklahoma after hosting Mizzou. With the Baylor game to be played in Dallas, five of the eight conference games are on the road with Texas and Oklahoma State coming to Lubbock.

Best offensive player: Senior QB Taylor Potts … or senior QB Steven Sheffield. Potts is the more talented of the two with the bigger arm and better skills, but Sheffield has always moved the attack whenever he has stepped in and was the better of the two this offseason before reinjuring his broken foot. Both have a hard time staying healthy meaning the coaching staff might have to dive into the reserves with Seth Doege and Jacob Karam, who can each play, at some point this year.

Best defensive player: Senior DE/LB Brian Duncan. No matter where he lines up he's going to make plays. The steady leader in the middle of the linebacking corps last year, now he's going to move to the defensive line and work as a hybrid of outside linebacker and pass rushing end. More often than not, he'll have his hand on the ground to use his experience and smarts to find ways to get into the backfield.

Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman CB Jarvis Phillips. Until LaRon Moore returns from a broken leg, throw D.J. Johnson and Will Ford into this category, too. For the Texas Tech defense to work like the new coaching staff is hoping for, the corners have to work on an island and prove they don't need a lot of safety help. The idea is to make it 9-on-9 football in the middle of the field and let the speed and quickness of the linebackers to take over. If the safeties have to spend their time double teaming in pass coverage, the scheme breaks down.

The season will be a success if … the Red Raiders win nine games. There's way too much talent returning on both sides of the ball, and the schedule is too light, to not finish 9-4, at least, with a bowl win. With Texas coming to Lubbock, there's a fighting chance to come up with an upset, while getting Missouri at home is also a plus. It'll take something disastrous to not have a decent year.

Key game: Oct. 16 vs. Oklahoma State. While a great showing against Texas at home would be a major plus for Tuberville, and a win at Texas A&M would likely ensure a great bowl game, beating Oklahoma State at home will almost certainly mean a top three finish, at least, in the South. If all goes according to form, assuming a loss to the Longhorns, the Red Raiders will be favored in four of the first five games, and if they beat the Cowboys at home, they'll almost certainly be 5-1 going into the rough second half schedule.

2009 Fun Stats:
- Fourth Down Conversions: Texas Tech 22-of-32 (69%) – Opponents 11-of-23 (48%)
- Passing Touchdowns: Texas Tech 38 – Opponents 12
- Time of possession: Opponents 31:05 – Texas Tech 28:55

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