After the Texas Tech Red Raiders lost 66-6 last Saturday to Oklahoma State in Lubbock, it didn’t take too long for people to get on the message boards and start debating if the football program is going the right direction under head coach Tommy Tuberville.
After such a bad loss, especially at home, the message board was full of Red Raider fans saying they are ready for Texas Tech to go in a new direction and saying Tuberville has been nothing more than a figure head for the program and not a good coach.
The Red Raiders currently find themselves in the middle of a three game losing streak and needing to get an upset win over with Missouri or Baylor to be bowl eligible. So the concerns from Red Raider fans have a lot of merit. But it is still probably too early to scrap everything Tuberville and his staff has done in its two years in Lubbock.
In discussing the Red Raiders, perhaps one of the first things Red Raider fans have to realize is once Mike Leach was fired from the school at the end of 2009, a big part of the football programs identity over the past ten years went with him.
Regardless of what people thought of Leach personally, the coach’s odd personality and Air Raid offense gave the program a sense of mystique and/or swagger regardless who they were lining up against.
Over the past ten years, Oklahoma and Texas regularly have been the top teams in the Big 12. During that span, however the Red Raiders were able to post impressive victories over both teams, especially in Lubbock.
I will argue that the talent level on the Red Raiders’ offense is as good as most of the units Leach had with the exception of the Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree years.
But as one Big 12 assistant coach said in Athlon’s College Football Preview magazine, once Leach left the Tech offense just doesn’t scare opponents they way it once did.
Perhaps part of the problem on offense is Tuberville is a coach who historically has preferred to run the football and is trying to run a system he is not necessarily sold on. A look at Tuberville’s final year at Auburn should remind people that the coach tried to implement a spread system with the Tigers that failed. So why should Red Raider fans automatically assume the Air Raid style was going to continue to succeed under Tuberville?
If Tuberville continues to be at Texas Tech, fans need to look at the coach’s first two full recruiting classes and notice it appears the offense will eventually develop into a more balanced unit to match what Tuberville has done best with in the past.
Texas Tech’s offensive recruits still featured playmakers at the receiver position and is headlined by a good receiver this year in Dominique Wheeler from Crockett.
However, last year Tuberville landed two good running backs in DeAndre Washington and Kenny Williams that are built more as north and south runners than spread backs and perhaps the best tight end in the state in Jace Amaro. During the Leach era, the Red Raiders didn’t use a tight end in the offense.
Along with Wheeler, the 2012 class is probably headlined by a couple of big offensive linemen, which should allow the Red Raiders to control the line of scrimmage and move the ball on the ground in a couple of years.
At this point, the biggest question about the Red Raiders centers around the defense.
After being ran through on the ground by Iowa St. and Texas, the Red Raiders gave up over 400 yards in the air, that shows the Red Raider defensive unit as a whole needs a lot of improvement.
It is in this area, where Tuberville probably has to answer questions his critics are raising, since he was built as being a defensive minded coach.
The good news is Tuberville has been able to recruit a couple of solid defensive linemen, who should help against the run in couple of years. But there is no question this unit as a whole has a long way to go in order to be one the team can depend on against the better offenses of the Big 12.
I will agree that if Tech misses making a bowl game this year, it will be seen as a big disappointment.
However, the book on the Tuberville era doesn’t need to be closed yet due to the promise the program appears to have coming to Lubbock from the recruiting trail.
But there is no question if the program doesn’t improve and post at least seven wins in 2012, then there will more than likely be a change within the Red Raider program.