Sunday, August 21, 2011

Debriefing: Texas Tech?s Tubervillian transformation picks up steam

The least you should know about the 2011 Red Raiders. Part of Big 12 Week.

? The man knows what he wants. By any standard, Texas Tech remained one of the most pass-happy attacks in the country with someone other than spread guru Mike Leach calling the shots for the first time in a decade, and by some of them, you would have never known Leach was gone. The Red Raiders were back in the top 10 nationally in yards and attempts per game, and tied with high-flying Oklahoma for the Big 12 lead in touchdown passes. They went over 300 yards through the air in seven games, with at least three touchdown passes in eight. Eight different Raider receivers brought down at least 25 receptions. Et cetera.

In other, more significant ways, though, the beginning of the transition away from the "Air Raid" were apparent enough ? Tech ran 42 percent of the time, up from roughly 25 percent under Leach, and actually ran more than it passed in the Nov. 6 upset over Missouri (blasphemy on Leach's watch), with roughly 50-50 splits against Oklahoma State, Colorado, Oklahoma and Weber State ?�and coach/political pundit Tommy Tuberville has made no bones about his plans to take the team in a more "physical" direction as Leach's spread-bred recruits are gradually replaced by his own. The first step: The introduction of the "Pistol" to develop some semblance of between-the-tackles brawn.

? You're the man now, Doege. The speed of that transition will depend in large part on the passing prowess of the new quarterback, Seth Doege, who was pulled from his only career start in 2009 after fumbling away two touchdowns to Kansas in the first half. (Taylor Potts came off the bench to lead a fourth quarter comeback and started the Raiders' next 17 games to close his career.) Doege has attempted all of four passes in the meantime, all of them in garbage time of a blowout win over Weber State last November, and does not have the automatic benefit of the doubt afforded every new quarterback under Leach. He does, however, have the benefit of a big, veteran offensive line that returns completely intact, and of nine guys who have at least one touchdown catch in their careers.

? You have heard of this "dee-fence," yes? Tuberville's chief advantage over Leach, football-wise, was supposed to be his occasional acknowledgement of the defense. And technically, Tech did field a defense in 2010. You just had to squint really hard to find any evidence of it in the box scores: The Raiders were dead last in the Big 12 in total defense and only a few slots from rock bottom nationally, victims of 500-yard outbursts in five different games. The quick fix: Longtime TCU assistant Chad Glasgow, whose mission is to import the 4-2-5 scheme the Horned Frogs have used to lead the nation in total defense five times in the last ten years, including each of the last three. (Unfortunately, he couldn't convince Tank Carder to come along with him.)

Glasgow does, however, have defensive end Scott Smith, back from a suspension that cost him the last eight games in 2010 after a fast start in September. Smith showed up last year as one of the most hyped juco prospects in the country, and showed flashes of living up to it with three sacks in the first five games, two of them coming against Texas. If he doesn't pick up the slack left by departed ends Brian Duncan and Colby Whitlock, the pass rush may join the Loch Ness Monster, Elvis and the Raider secondary in the rumor mills.

? Check back later. Tuberville is more than willing to snap up TCU's secondary coach to improve his team, but actually playing TCU? That doesn't sound quite so intriguing:

"Obviously for us, we're going to be a very young team coming in," Tuberville said of the decision to cut a planned game against the Frogs that was scheduled for Sept. 10. "That's really probably not the type of team we want to play right now."

Tuberville explained that somebody had to go among the four nonconference opponents and that the Raiders weren't running in fear, but it was clear the respect he has for the Frogs' program.
"Hopefully, we can play ? I think that's a natural game for us," he said. "I think we need to play that game. I think it needs to be a home and home game, and I think that it would help both Gary [Patterson] and us to play each year."

Just not this year. When the Horned Frogs are back to playing in Poinsettia Bowls instead of BCS games, give him a call.

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.


Willlie Shoemaker Wilma Rudolph Wilt Chamberlain Adrian Peterson

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