Texas Tech Enters The Tommy Tuberville Era; Ten Key Issues For 2010
As the old song goes, it’s…”gimme a T for Texas, gimme a T for Tennessee”.
Out on the West Texas plains however, it’s more like “gimme a T for Tech, gimme a T for Tommy Tuberville”.
The Red Raiders enter a new era, kicking off at home against old SWC foe SMU on Sunday, September 5.
Unfortunately for Tommy and the Red Raiders, the easy win that they expected when they originally scheduled the Mustangs is no more, as June Jones has turned the program around via a wide open offense that runs and guns it.
Hmmmm. Sound familiar?
Here are ten issues that may impact the season in various ways, shapes and forms as Tuberville grabs the reins.
Is Taylor Potts the Right Choice at Quarterback ?
The quarterback position was up in the air until last week, when Tuberville announced that Taylor Potts grabbed the starting nod over Steven Sheffield.
Potts, a 6'5", 218-pounder, started ten times last season and is considered to have the better arm. He was leading the nation in passing when sidelined in mid-October.
Sheffield, 6'4", 190lb, is more mobile. He started twice in Potts' absence, including a 31-10 victory at Nebraska, before suffering a broken foot.
This spring, Sheffield broke the same foot. Near the end of the next practice, Potts was lost with an injured passing hand. Potts also has a history of concussions.
So question number one is…did Tommy pick the right guy to lead the offense?
How Much of the High Powered Offense Will Be Retained ?
The Red Raider faithful became used to Mike Leaches run and gun offense in which passing plays accounted for almost 70 percent of the mix, and one season actually topped 75 percent.
Tuberville has already announced that this will be toned down a bit.
In last months Big 12 Conference preseason media session, he said, "I'd say 60-40 pass to runs, maybe 65-35 depending on how the defenses play”.
Given that he is already backing off the mix that the Red Raiders ran, will he keep the offense firing on all cylinders?
Is the Texas Game Too Soon ?
The Horns and Sooners remain the 800 pound gorilla in the Big 12.
And Tommy T has the Horns in game three.
Welcome to the Big 12.
There is not too much he can do about the schedule. I'm sure, however, he would have liked to get the Horns a bit later in the slate.
So, can Tuberville have his players sufficiently comfortable with his systems and schemes for that early season contest?
Can Tuberville Recruit Talent ?
Mike Leach did a great job recruiting, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
OK, so maybe there are one or two that he would like to give back.
Tuberville is new to the state. How long will it take him to build a pipeline?
While at Auburn, he was used to recruiting against the big dog, Bama.
Here, however, in addition to the Horns, he also has Oklahoma and A&M to contend with. Not to mention agressive programs like TCU, Houston and now SMU nipping at his heels.
So can he get some studs to agree to spend four years in Lubbock rather than other environs?
Is the Out of Conference Schedule Too Tough?
Weber State and New Mexico are lay downs.
SMU and Houston are not.
Leach was notorious for scheduling 4 OOC cream puffs, and back when they signed up The Cougars and Mustangs they looked like easy wins.
SMU is on the rise however, and Houston beat Tech last year. They come to town for the last game of the season sporting an offense loaded with returning players, including a legitimate Heisman candidate at quarterback.
Tech was supposed to have TCU at home this year but canceled, citing "scheduling conflicts". Seems that Tommy T didn't think that taking on a top ten program that is not a Big 12 member was in his best interest.
So is the OOC schedule a little too much, with two tough games added to the Big 12 schedule?
Can He Build A Defense?
Under Leach, playing D was something the other guys did.
He recruited for the O. Paid attention to the O. Pretty much was only interested in the O.
Tuberville, however, brings a background as a solid defensive coach.
He started as a defensive coordinator, and as a head coach, his teams were always known for stingy defense.
So will Tommy T return the Raiders to the days of Spike Dykes, when they were known for hard hitting, smash mouth defense?
Gerald Myers is Gone; Will Tommy Have the Support of the Administration
One of the worse things to happen when you change jobs in corporate America is to have the guy or gal who hired you leave soon after you arrive on board.
Whup...there goes the person with a vested interest in seeing you succeed.
College football is not any different.
Tuberville was hired by AD Gerald Myers. Myers, however, has just retired.
So if things get dicey, will Tuberville retain the support of the administration?
What about Fan Support?
Speaking of dicey...what about the support from the fans?
When Leach was fired a large portion of the fan base went completely ballistic.
The students actually formed a group, called Team Leach, to yell and scream about how unfair it was that their beloved pirate got to walk the plank.
Comments such as "I'll never support Tech athletics again" were numerous and common on various web boards and blogs.
That was then, this is now.
Team Leach has morphed into an organization that is dedicated to "improving" the input of the student voice,,,I guess the good old student goverment was not up to snuff on that measure.
I'm pretty sure that all the ticked off fans will, however, be rooting for the Red Raiders again this fall.
If things don't go swimmingly right out of the gate, such as a bad loss to the Longhorns or an upset by SMU, will they support Tuberville?
Or will calls for his demise come from the peanut gallery unless he can deliver rapid and immediate success?
Are the Players Behind Him?
Like all new coaches, Tuberville is inheriting a group of players who not only do not know him, but were recruited by his predecessor.
In most cases, the departing coach was given the boot because he was not winning. Thus, the players might have liked the guy but could welcome some new blood. They want to win, after all.
In the case of Leach, however, the team had consistently been winning. He is, as a matter of fact, the coach with the most wins the program ever had.
So given these circumstances, and the fact that all of the players on the current roster were pretty much brought in by Leach, can Tuberville garner their support?
He'll need that to be competitive this year.
Can He Win the Big 12..This Year?
Can the Raiders make a run at the Big 12 this year under Tuberville?
Despite the success of Leach, he never won an outright title. Perhaps with the addition of a better defense, Tommy T can lead the Raiders to the promised land.
The talent is there to score plenty of points.
And after the initial test in week three against Texas, the schedule brings on an always mediocre Iowa State, a Baylor team that is now at fifteen and counting without a winning season, an Oklahoma State team that is in serious rebuilding mode, and a foot out of the door Colorado squad who stink.
So they could build some good momentum before taking on A&M, Mizzou and Oklahoma to close out thier Big 12 slate.
Just need to beat the Horns in game three.
Can they do it?
In a year with a lot of questions for all of the teams in the Big 12 (can Texas find a running game? Can the Sooners rebound from last years sub par season? Can A&M find a defense?), they have as god a chance as any.