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FOLLOWING HIS FOOTBALL TEAM'S 66--42 LOSS TO BAYLOR IN the 2011 season finale, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt felt compelled to tell the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that Tommy Tuberville, who had just coached the Red Raiders to their first losing season since 1992, would be back on the job in 2012.
Tuberville survived, but Texas Tech's 5--7 season was not without casualty. Defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow agreed to leave after just one year in Lubbock, a fleeting tenure that had begun with great enthusiasm over the 4-2-5 formation Glasgow had brought with him from TCU. But the Red Raiders—plagued by injuries and missed assignments—ended the season 117th in scoring defense, undermining the efforts of an offense that put up nearly 34 points per game. "We couldn't stop anybody, especially the run," Tuberville says. "And we were very poor on third-down conversions and getting our offense back on the field."
Art Kaufman takes over as Tuberville's third defensive coordinator in as many years. His 4--3 scheme (the same alignment he ran as Tuberville's coordinator at Ole Miss from 1995 through '98) is premised on simplicity. "You have to have a system simple enough where they know what to do in a limited time," Kaufman says. "A lot of what happens with these fast-paced Big 12 offenses is the defenses aren't lined up right."
Fortunately for Kaufman, his defense practices against a high-powered offense every day. Davey O'Brien Award semifinalist Seth Doege returns at quarterback, as do his top three receivers: Eric Ward, Alex Torres and Darrin Moore (1,987 total yards). And the return of running back Eric Stephens—who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the fifth game of 2011—is expected to provide a run-pass balance that the team lacked for much of last year.
The Raiders, certainly, are eager for change. "Last year we had Sunday meetings with just the players, and it got real old talking about what we should have done," says junior linebacker Terrance Bullitt. "We have to make a statement so that the Big 12 and the nation know we're not pushovers." Tuberville proved to be a turnaround artist during stints at Ole Miss and Auburn. With 13 starters back, 2012 is his best opportunity to show that he can be the same in Lubbock.
COACH Tommy Tuberville (3rd year) 13--12 (5--12 in Big 12)
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR Neal Brown
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR Art Kaufman