There were many who questioned why Tommy Tuberville quit as Texas Tech’s head coach and took a similar position with the Cincinnati Bearcats. Maybe it had to do with geography. Cincinnati has a lot more to offer than Lubbock, Texas, which only offers a statue of Buddy Holly and blowing tumbleweeds.
Now the Raiders have hired alumnus and former gunslinger Kliff Kingsbury. He started in Mike Leach’s Air Raid attack from 1998-2002. He then served as Kevin Sumlin’s assistant at Houston and Texas A&M. As offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at A&M, he taught a kid named Johnny Manziel, who just happened to win last year’s Heisman Trophy.
Kingsbury will bring back the wide-open offense, although the last quarterback, Seth Doege, wasn’t too bad flinging the pigskin. Doege has graduated, and sophomore Michael Brewer (6-1, 183) seems to be the heir apparent. He is being challenged by freshman Davis Webb (6-4, 194). Kingsbury is expected name a starter prior to the first game.
As a backup last year, Brewer completed 34 of 48 for 375 yards with 4 TDs and nary a pick.
Whomever Kingsbury selects, the new QB will have only two starting linemen back to protect him. Le’Raven Clark (6-5, 303, Soph.) shifts from right guard to left tackle, and last season's left guard, Beau Carpenter (6-6, 284, Jr.), has moved to Clark’s old position.
One-half of the four-member receiving corps returns—senior Eric Ward (6-0, 204) and junior tight end Jace Amaro (6-5, 257) were second and fifth respectively in receptions last year. Ward grabbed 82 passes for 1,053 and 12 TDs. Amaro earned second-team All-Big 12 honors at TE with 25 catches for 409 yards and 4 scores. The top receiver (Darrin Moore) and third-best receiver (Tyson Williams) have graduated.
How much will Kingsbury commit to the running game? During Leach’s 10 years, the Red Raiders ran the ball only 31 percent of the time, averaging 87 yards per game, or 3.8 per carry. Junior tailback Kenny Williams (5-9, 219), Tech' leading rusher last year, returns. He gained 824 yards (5.8 per carry) and had 5 TDs a year ago.
The Red Raiders will run a multiple defense this year, and according to their post-spring depth chart, they’ll run a 3-4 scheme.
Changes are likely welcome in Lubbock as the Red Raiders led the nation in yards allowed after four weeks (167.5 yards per game). They wound up 38th overall (367.3 per game).
The front line lost Delvon Simmons (6-5, 290, Jr.) to transfer in June, creating some uncertainty. Senior defensive tackle Kerry Hyder (6-2, 281), end Dartwan Bush (6-1, 256, Sr.) and nose guard Dennell Wesley (6-1, 286, Sr.) return. Hyder and Bush led Tech with 6 sacks each in 2012. Hyder, a second-team All-Big 12 pick last year, led the team with had 14 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, followed by Bush with 12.
Micah Awe (6-0, 205, Soph.) and Sam Eguavoen (6-1, 220, Jr.) will return to the linebacking corps. Eguavoen had 52 stops a year ago, and Awe added 13.
Seniors Tre’ Porter (6-0, 202) and Bruce Jones (5-7, 171) return to the secondary. Porter moves from nickelback to free safety, and Jones reclaims his field corner spot. The duo combined for 61 passes defended, breaking up nine, but neither had a single pick.
The special teams should be decent in 2013. Senior punter Ryan Erxleben (6-1, 191) averaged 41.7 yards per kick, and he also will be the holder again for placekicker Ryan Bustin (5-11, 172, Jr.). Bustin made all 59 of his extra-point attempts a year ago, but only 17 of 24 field goal tries, with the longest coming from 50 yards out. Junior Alex Chester (5-10, 220, Jr.) will again be the deep snapper.
Sadale Foster (5-7, 187, Sr.) led the team in kickoff returns in ’12 with an average of 21.8 yards per return. The Raiders will be seeking a new punt return specialist. That job may go to Foster as well.