February 17, 2010
At his first press conference as Texas Tech head coach, Tommy Tuberville promised the high-flying passing attack that put the Raiders on the map under the most successful head coach in school history, Mike Leach, isn't going anywhere: "We’re going to air it out," Tuberville said. "We’re going to keep the 'Air Raid.' I think it's something that Tech has hit upon that gives them that identity to recruit and we all want to have." To back that up, he hired a spread-based offensive coordinator, 29-year-old Neal Brown, who called 41 passes per game last year at Troy.
In his first public speaking engagement in Lubbock on Tuesday, Tuberville was singing a much different tune, according to the local Avalanche-Journal -- but only because his quarterbacks asked him to:
"We'll put a lot of speed on the field," [Tuberville said], as well as a more aggressive defense, adding the team’s quarterbacks met with him soon after his arrival and asked Tech to run the ball a bit more to help protect them. "We're going to be a little more balanced on offense."
Before last year, that line would make no sense -- putting up insane passing numbers on 45-50 throws per game was the reason quarterbacks wanted to play for Tech, and the best of Leach's record-breakers, Graham Harrell, was consistently one of the most untouchable passers in America from 2006-08. It would be no wonder, though, if '09 returnees Steven Sheffield and Taylor Potts didn't feel quite the same way:
After nine years without a significant quarterback injury, Tech struggled throughout last season with concussions (Potts) and bum shoulders (Sheffield) that sidelined one member of the duo or the other in seven different games; the most memorable play of the Raiders' season was the ferocious hit by Sergio Kindle on Potts that led to a fumble and a crucial Texas touchdown in the fourth quarter of the 34-24 loss in Austin. They obviously took a beating.
Enough of a beating to actually request a change in the philosophy that produced the most prolific offensive system of the past decade? Eh, maybe, especially if Tuberville was on the other side of the table, asking, "But did you feel ... protected?" It's as good an excuse as any, but the smart money from the beginning said Tubs was bound to get his "balance" on no matter what.