Texas Tech and Tommy Tuberville will begin the post Mike Leach era on Monday. Coach Tuberville has many questions to answer this spring. The sexy topic will be who wins the starting quarterback job. While figuring out who the Texas Tech quarterback will be next year will provide some good drama for the media, it is not one of the top questions this spring.
The Texas Tech Defense
For all the talk of Mike Leach being an offensive genius, the key to the 2009 team was the defense. The Tech defense played well down the stretch last season. While the popular thing to say is that the Tech defense will be better under Tommy Tuberville and James Willis, it may not be better this coming season. The scheme that Tech ran last year was simple and allowed the players to react without having to think. This made the defense half a step faster than if they had to think about individual assignments.
Texas Tech will be putting in a new defensive scheme, This scheme will likely improve the defense over time. Just as the Air Raid offense did not immediately produce the great offensive numbers that it eventually put up, the new defense will be a work in progress. Red Raider Nation should not be surprised if the Red Raider defense actually takes a step backwards during the 2010 football season.
Air Raid or Prairie Dog offense?
The other important question for Texas Tech will be what Tommy Tuberville and Neal Brown mean when they say they are going to tweak the Tech offense. Neal Brown was the offensive coordinator for Troy last year and while he passed it more than he ran it, he did not pass it as often as Texas Tech did.
Troy also used the “prairie dog offense”, which is when all the players look over at the sidelines to see if the coach wants to change the play. Conversely, Texas Tech allowed the quarterback to make those decisions. The other major difference between the systems is that Troy used a tight end as opposed to Tech, which stuck with the four wide receiver look.
Look for Tech to stick to the four wide receiver set this coming season. Texas Tech has a shortage of players with the size and skill set to play tight end. One of the players that might make sense in that position is Adam James. However, there is no way that Tech wants to go there. If James were to suddenly be given significant playing time at tight end, it would serve a validation to many that Craig James is in fact calling the shots at Tech. That claim would not be without merit.
The bottom line
This spring will be all about learning the schemes on both sides of the ball and getting the players to buy into what the new coaching staff is selling. The position battles will make for great talk around the water cooler but will be less important than in years past. Coach Tuberville needs to get everyone up to speed quickly. There will not be much of a honeymoon period. He is not taking over a team that went 3-9 last season. In fact, Texas Tech went 9-4 last season and that record was viewed by many fans as disappointing.