Texas Tech Red Raiders
Under first year head coach Tommy Tuberville Texas Tech finished with a winning record and a Bowl victory using Mike Leach’s players. Going forward we’ll see a gradual change in personnel and hopefully some much better play on the defensive side of the ball. With seven starters back on offense and defense and a year of seasoning under Tuberville the fans hope to see even further improvement but will it be enough for this team to be a factor in the Big 12?
As expected, the strength of the Red Raiders was on the offensive side of the ball with a unit that finished 15 th in the country overall and was seventh in passing. However, Tyler Potts is gone and the job as signal caller likely falls to Seth Doege who is supposed to have the arm to make all the throws but with just four attempts last season and 61 in 2009 he has very little experience to say he is the right man for the job. With Detron Lewis and Lyle Leong graduating and taking over 160 receptions with them, Alex Torres (39-481) is the top returning option but TT has around eight receivers that will rotate giving Doege plenty of options. The ground game might get more work even though leading rusher Brandon Batch (815 yards) is gone. Eric Stevens will likely assume more of the workload after proving to be a capable runner with 688 yards in 2010 while also giving the passing attack yet another option coming of a 33 catch year. With an offensive line that has plenty of experience and depth along with several being able to play multiple positions, this unit should be even better than a year ago with more of a chance to run block than.
The key to the red Raiders success likely depends on whether their 114 th ranked defense can take their game up a few notches. New defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow is implementing a 4-2-5 scheme which in theory should help a porous secondary. The defensive line was respectable against the run and did get some pressure on the quarterback but not consistently and that needs to change. The Red Raiders will see a number of players battling for starting spots up front but will have a solid rotation regardless of who starts. The line backing corps wasn’t real strong a year ago and with a new system it might take some time to grow accustomed to the change. Texas Tech has a nucleus of fast, smallish type players led by Cqulin Hubert who made 31 tackles in nine starts a year ago and could be poised for a big season. Whatever the front six do, it won’t make a difference unless the secondary improves upon the 294 yards allowed in 2010. That is the main reason for the switch to the new alignment and I see the coaches tinkering with this group to find the best combination but whoever gets the job the secondary will be fast.
Donnie Carona takes over placekicking duties with Matt Williams (9-11) gone. Carona has 50+ yards potential but will be counted on to make the short ones after going 1 of 4 from long range in 2010. The Red Raiders were 22 nd nationally with 38.3 yard net in the punting game but Jonathan Lacour has graduated. Ryan Erxleben is a likely choice for the job or Carona could be used unless the team wants him to just concentrate on field goals. Eric Stephens is a strong kick returner with a 24.3 average a season ago but look for an open competition for the punt return job which was below average in 2010.
This team will win with Tuberville but the question is how long will it take and what definition does winning mean to the fan base. In my view last season’s strengths and weaknesses are about the same which means the offense will be fine but stopping opponents will be a work in progress. I’m not sold on the new alignment and I think Texas Tech will finish in the bottom half of the conference with a similar record unless this unit overachieves.