The first season under Tommy Tuberville is in the books. The start of year two means the coaching transition gets to take another step forward. For the Red Raiders, that process starts with repairing a defense that had its share of problems in 2010. Tech finished 11th in scoring defense and 12th in total defense in the Big 12 last season.
After spring practice in 2010, Tuberville talked about the lack of depth and how they would have trouble stopping some Big 12 offenses so the lapses on that side of the ball weren’t a huge surprise necessarily, but it will no doubt receive a lot of attention this spring as the Red Raiders continue their trip back up the Big 12 ladder.
That’s where new defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow enters the picture. If you’re in the market for a defensive coordinator, why not start with a guy who has been part of one of the best defenses in college football over the past few seasons. Glasgow comes to Lubbock after ten seasons on Gary Patterson’s staff at TCU and figures to implement some of what has made TCU so successful. (Here is a link to ESPN’s Big 12 blog which has a good two-part Q&A with Glasgow and part II).
Tech will be the first Big 12 team to hit the field this spring as they start practice this afternoon in Lubbock. Improving the defense will not only start with implementing some new ideas from Glasgow, but replacing three very good players in linebacker Bront Bird, defensive end/OLB Brian Duncan, and DT Colby Whitlock.
Overall Tech has a lot of experience coming back from a team that finished 8-5 in 2010.
- Starters returning: 15
- Offense: 7
- Defense: 8
The other area emphasis is going to be finding a replacement for quarterbacks Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield. There are a whole slew of possibilities, the most likely of which is probably junior-to-be Seth Doege. Doege may have a slight edge, but he’s far from a lock to be under center when Tech opens the season this fall against Texas State. He’ll be challenged by several inexperienced but talented players Scotty Young, Jacob Karam, and newcomer Michael Brewer who graduated early from high school and will take part in spring drills.
Tech will also be looking for replacements for wide receivers Lyle Leong and Detron Lewis. All Leong did was haul in 19 touchdowns last season so there’s a lot of production that needs to be replaced in losing Leong alone. Finding good wide receivers hasn’t been a problem for Tech in the past and they figure to have talent on the roster to replace Leong and Lewis, but keep an eye on junior college transfer Marcus Kennard. He’s 6’4” and has the chance to be the next in line of great Tech receivers.
Whoever it is that steps up at both positions will have a ways to go in developing the same chemistry that Potts and Leong shared during their careers (playing together in high school didn’t hurt). That is something that will start to develop this spring and no doubt carry over into this summer’s workouts.
It’s not completely relevant to spring practice, but I thought it was interesting to look at some numbers from Tech’s 2009 team and those from 2010, considering much was made of the Mike Leach to Tuberville transition. Offensively, you can start to see the slight shift to more of a balanced attack. Tech ran it 118 more times in 2010 which comes to about nine more carries a game. They also ran about 5 more plays a game on offense last season.
|Run Plays Against||483||509|
|Pass Plays Against||466||520|
|Total Plays Against||949||1029|
The defensive numbers were a little surprising in one sense. Obviously, we know about the production that went down as Tech gave up 8 more points and roughly 100 more yards per game. The surprising aspect to me was the number of plays teams ran against Tech. The difference isn’t that drastic, but I would have thought that number would have gone down last year. It wasn’t like Tech was running a ball control offense under Leach, but on the other hand, when you’re having trouble stopping people like Tech was last season, the fact teams ran more plays against you probably isn’t that surprising.
Offensively, it’ll be interesting to see what direction Tech’s heads in with a new quarterback, some less-experienced receivers, but an experienced offense line coming back. They ran more in 2010 than they did in 2009 and I wouldn’t be shocked to see even more of a ground game in 2011. We might not learn a heck of a lot this spring, just something worth keeping an eye on in Lubbock.
You often hear coaches say there’s a big jump in performance between game one and game two during the season. I think the same can be said in coaching changes (at least you hope). There should be some evident improvements from year one to year two as players adjust to Tuberville’s systems and expectations, which makes this another important spring session for the Red Raiders.