The Texas Tech Red Raiders are coming off a disappointing 5-7 campaign that saw them finish 1-7 down the stretch. Although Tech returns 18 starters, Tuberville has as many as nine JUCO kids expected to see significant action in 2012.
Lubbock has always been a tough place to play for road teams, so being out scored 173-55 in their last three home games is a trend Tech will look to reverse this year.
On offense, the Red Raiders return a 4,000 yard passer in Seth Doege, who also completed 68 percent of his passes with 28 touchdowns. They also return a healthy Eric Stephens, who should provide a solid rushing attack after carrying the ball for 565 yards and eight touchdowns before injuring his knee in the fifth game last year. Coaches would like to bring Stephens along slowly to be ready for the conference opener vs Iowa State. Kenny Williams had a fantastic spring and summer, and newcomer Juco transfer Sedale Foster has shown flashes as well.
Tech is loaded once again at the receiver position with Eric Ward, Alex Torres and Darin Moore, who combined for 23 touchdowns last season. Add to the mix Jakeem Grant, Javon Ball and Derek Edwards and Doege will have more options on offense than any team in the Big 12. Also, former 5 star recruit from Florida Javares McRoy has home-run ability and Tech will find ways to get the dynamic player the ball in space. Tight end Jace Amaro is an up and comer at the TE position.
The return game has a chance to really pay dividends and change field position for the Red Raiders with McRoy and Bradley Marquez back deep.
The OL returns four players with starting experience, including future NFL player LaAdrian Waddle, who will vie for All-Big 12 honors again in 2012.
Defense is an area where Tech has struggled the last couple of years. The defense allowed 39.3 points a game last year, which ranked 117 out of 120 teams. Tuberville hired the respected Art Kaufman (the two coached together at Auburn) to install a 4-3 system to help stop the run better and get pressure on the QB in a pass-happy Big 12. The team speed has been greatly improved and will give Kaufman more opportunities to attack the opposing offense.
Dartwan Bush and a bulked-up Branden Jackson are expected to be the defensive ends and coaches are very excited about Jackson in particular. Kerry Hyder and Delvon Simmons will start at tackle with Leon Mackey, Denell Wesley and Kindred Evans all seeing snaps.
The LB corp has a chance to be vastly improved with the spinning down of safety Terrance Bullitt, who had 56 tackles last year including 10 for a loss. The star of summer camp on defense is JUCO transfer Will Smith at middle linebacker. Smith has a chance to be newcomer of the year on the defensive side of the ball in the Big 12. Sam Equavoen will start as the weakside backer.
Cody Davis and DJ Johnson return to man the safety spots with Corelious Douglas and Eugene Neboh at the two corner positions. Tre Porter, Jarvis Phillips and help from 3 JUCO transfers will provide depth in the secondary.
Tech will cruise through the non conference slate with 3 victories. The Red Raiders have arguably the toughest 5 game stretch in the country with games vs Oklahoma, West Virginia, at TCU, at Kansas State and home vs Texas, all in consecutive weeks.
If Tech can manage to make it out of that gauntlet at 2-3, they have a very good chance of finishing 8-4 or 9-3.