Editor’s note: The following is part of a series of previews on West Virginia University football’s 2012 opponents.
After having him as the head coach in Lubbock, Texas for three seasons, Texas Tech fans are ready to see the Tommy Tuberville that led Auburn to 85 wins and five SEC West titles in 10 seasons On the Plains.
So far, the 57-year-old Camden, Ark., native has done nothing to make Red Raiders fans forget about the days of Mike Leach.
In year No. 1, Tuberville’s team went 8-5, but it was just 2-5 in Big 12 play and had to settle for fifth place in the Big 12 South and an appearance in the TicketCity Bowl, where it knocked off Northwestern.
Last season was even worse. Texas Tech won just two Big 12 games, finished ninth in the conference and missed the postseason with a 5-7 overall record, the first losing campaign since 1992.
If Tuberville is to avoid the same fate that led to his forced resignation at Auburn in 2008, he better show some progress.
The head Raider won’t have any excuses this year with eight starters back on offense and nine on defense.
Quarterback Seth Doege, who threw for more than 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns last year, will be the offensive leader, with solid targets in wide receivers Eric Ward and Alex Torres. There are also a couple of transfers in Tyson Williams and Javares McRoy that could help out in the slots.
Running back Eric Stephens is coming back from a knee injury, but if healthy, he’ll be a major weapon. He rushed for 565 yards and eight touchdowns in a shortened season last year.
Scoring points and moving the football hasn’t been a problem. Defense, though, has been another matter.
The Red Raiders had just 16 sacks last year, 102nd in the nation, and they allowed opponents to score on 72.8 percent of their trips into the red zone. They ranked 115th in the country in total defense, giving up more than 485 yards per game.
That has to change if Texas Tech is going to bag a few more wins this year.
New defensive coordinator Art Kaufman, the fourth coach to hold that position in as many years in Lubbock, does bring in some new fire. A 28-year coaching veteran, Kaufman has been the defensive coordinator at Northwestern State, Louisiana Tech, Arkansas Tech, East Carolina and North Carolina during his career and was also the defensive coordinator for Tuberville at Ole Miss, staying on after the head coach’s departure.
Safeties Cody Davis and D.J. Johnson, among the best in the league, give Kaufman a place to start, and the linebacking corps returns intact.
West Virginia will make the trip to Lubbock on Oct. 13. It will be the second all-time meeting between the two schools. The Mountaineers won the 1938 meeting 7-6, as Harry Clarke rushed for 132 yards.
WVU is also familiar with Tuberville. He brought his Auburn club to Morgantown in 2008, and a 34-17 Mountaineer victory that saw Noel Devine rush for 207 yards and Pat White throw for three touchdowns helped push the Tiger coach out the door.