Emptying the Notebook | Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

US PRESSWIRE

Final thoughts as the football season comes to a close.

QUOTES

Interim Head Coach Chris Thomsen:

It’s really just business as usual for us. The great thing about this team, the staple of this team, has been leadership all year, and we define leadership as guys who come out every single day focused and do it. If you can do that, you can lead as a freshman, sophomore, senior; it doesn’t matter. And that’s really the way they’ve approached it. I’m not surprised. This first day has been really good. We’ve got to make sure they do it the rest of the week, but it’s pretty much been business as usual for them.

I still don't think I can tell you how much I appreciate the steadying hand of Thomsen. He doesn't have to do this, but he is and that's appreciated.

LINKS

* Kill: "It is a privilege for us to be here in Houston" - Minnesota
* Gophers football: Bowl foe, Texas Tech, plays on while coach is long gone - TwinCities.com
* Team policy violation to keep U receiver McDonald out of game | StarTribune.com
* Bowl gives Minnesota player shot at program he originally chose | Red Raiders
* Texas Tech arrives in Houston eager for bowl appearance | Red Raiders
* Meineke Car Care Bowl notebook: Three Texas Tech players to miss bowl game | Red Raiders
* Going Through Changes ~ Student of the Game
* Rival Blogger Interview: Q & A with Seth C from Viva The Matadors - The Daily Gopher | I'll have my portion of the Q&A going up tomorrow.
* Minnesota's do-it-all threat MarQueis Gray seeking bowl-game redemption | Red Raiders
* Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas notebook: Christmas brings weird weather day | Red Raiders | Two big notes. 1) TE Jace Amaro is cleared to play. Good to hear. 2) WR Eric Ward is considering declaring for the NFL draft. Ward is just a junior, but he has a kid and he has his degree already. I'd love for him to stick around for his senior year, but I absolutely understand why he would entertain the thought. Typically, the players can get graded by the NFL and the players base their decision on that grade. I hope Eric does what is best for him.
* Texas Tech seniors ponder future while preparing for final game | Red Raiders
* Red Raiders faithful swoon as Kingsbury returns home - San Antonio Express-News
* Texas Tech Red Raiders Official Athletic Site - Football | The official site has some videos at the link with practice reports and things like that.

THE LIGHT BULB HAS GONE ON

For me, the season is officially over, I want to see QB Seth Doege start, but I'm now ready to look forward to the QB Michael Brewer led offense. I'd love to see three or four different drives where Brewer gets all of the snaps, intertwined within the game, not just garbage time. It will be great to get Brewer some looks and some experience. Doege should start and finish the game if at all possible. And I'd even be open to playing other quarterbacks if I thought that they had a chance to compete, but due to transfer rules, I think the only other quarterback that can play is Brant Costilla.

ITEM COMPLETED

There was no bigger item to complete during the offseason than to get a new head coach. Check. I never thought it would happen. I've been thinking about writing a top 12 best things that happened in 2012 and to do that would require me to write, "Kliff Kingsbury named head football coach at Texas Tech," would be ten of those twelve items. I'm truly fascinated how things happen in this world of ours. For a fanbase that was, at times, at each other's throats, this has been a breath of fresh air and I can't wait for the spring game.

KEY TO SUCCESS

Sometimes I have to force myself to think about the now, now three or four months from now and that's not fair to the guys graduating. As I focus on this game, I think the key to success will be the focus of the team and if the defense can force the Golden Gophers to throw the ball. I can honestly see this game playing out a lot like the Kansas game in that Minnesota isn't a passing, or they have struggled to pass the ball here recently. But their running game is just fine and that's been problematic for the Texas Tech defense for the better part of conference play. The linebackers and the defensive line will be very busy for the better part of the game and make no mistake, most of the players who are playing in this game are auditioning with the new staff as we know that Kingsbury will be watching the game, but so will Kevin Curtis and Mike Smith. Time to shine.

WE HAVE QUESTIONS

My biggest question is who is going to improve next year? Who is the guy or guys that are going to step up and make this team better, namely on the defense? We, me included, tend to just focus on the offense, but the key for the biggest improvement will be if players perform and are better. We've hardly see any other safeties other than Cody Davis and D.J. Johnson play this year, but someone is going to have to step up their play next year? I really can't even speculate and this is the best part about having a new coach is that none of us know anything. Just like I hope I see Brewer, I hope we also see some of the safety and cornerback prospects for next year. I think we've seen who the linebackers are going to be, unless there are some JUCO additions by Kingsbury.

GOOD JOB GOOD EFFORT

I was going to try to do a retrospective on the things that Tuberville did. The good things that I think Tuberville did because I don't believe that he left the program in shambles or anything like that. I don't know that I'll have time to get to that retrospective, but here is a list of things that I thought he did that was good. There are probably more, but there were some good things that Tuberville did that will hopefully really benefit this team next year.

  1. Redshirted DeAndre Washington for the entire year. It would have been nice to have a player like Washington this year, but the best thing for Washington and this team was for him to be redshirted, as tough as it probably was for both parties.
  2. Threw Le'Raven Clark into the fire, in particular giving him time at tackle at times as this is most likely going to be his eventual position.
  3. Gave a scholarship to Jakeem Grant. I don't think that Grant is the type of player that Tuberville would have normally received a scholarship since he's all of 5-6/163, but I'm so glad they did. He is the type of player that is going to make plays for this team for the next three years. We were all enamored with the McRoy Brothers, but they haven't worked out like we would have hoped, but we found our very own McRoy in Grant and he's from Texas.
  4. Recruiting the Southeast. It's easy to ignore the Southeast, but I really am glad that this group tried to make inroads into a talent rich area like the Southeast. You have to invest dollars and time and those dollars and time don't usually pay off, but they were starting to make a difference this year.
  5. Finding Blake Dees. Dees may never be a superstar but he can sure as heck be a very solid player on just about any team. He was woefully underprepared as a true freshman, but he's added weight and he's better. He can still be better, this is a good find.
  6. Signing La'Darius Newbold. The one thing that this staff did not do very well was recruit in the secondary. It was largely JUCO's last year, but for the most part, this position was largely ignored. That's a bad thing, but I think Newbold can play and I think he's going to be an integral part of the defense next year in some capacity because he might be the most talented player in the secondary.
  7. Finding Pete Robertson. I'm not at all sold that Robertson needs to be at defensive end, but teams need talented athletes and if given a preference, I'd love to see Robertson at linebacker next year, or at least competing for linebacker next year. The position flip-flopping is detrimental to his career, but if the coaching staff will make a decision during the spring and stick with it, I think he'll be a player that will make an impact next year.
  8. Signing J.J. Loller, Anthony Smith and Michael Starts. The fact that all three players redshirted this year, or are available to redshirt is going to be a huge part of any improvement next year. They did the new staff a huge favor and if we can hit on two out of the three, then this is a success. Especially if Starts can play at defensive end. Loller and Smith are high-motor guys and I hope they don't lose that. Loller could be a huge addition next year.
  9. Signed QB Michael Brewer and TE Jace Amaro. Brewer's emergency literally caused the transfer of two quarterbacks ahead of him. It is obvious that OC Neal Brown believed in him and was going to be the guy next year. Amaro is the most talented player on the team with the most potential and it's not even that close.

FLAG

I really don't mind penalties. I think this is something that was leftover from when Leach was here. They never really bothered me all that much, but they really bothered me this year. It wasn't the volume or the number, but the timing. I can't or won't say that some of the penalties would have made a difference, but it seemed like there were too many penalties in the redzone and it seemed all too often that this team was in a 1st and 20 situation from their own 30 yard line and having to figure out a way to get a first down and or score. That's a tough task no matter who is calling plays. As an aside, this team had more penalties in wins, 7.6, than in losses, 6.8.

NOTABLE

I haven't given the seniors a proper send-off. I said this whenever Tuberville left for Cincinnati, the players never asked for any of this mess. We were critical of their play at times, but I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you played for my team.

K Andrew Bowman
S Cody Davis
QB Seth Doege
CB Cornelius Douglas
C Deveric Gallington
S D.J. Johnson
WR Marcus Kennard
DT Leon Mackey
RT Terry McDaniel
WR Darrin Moore
CB Eugene Neboh
CB Happieness Osunde
RB Eric Stephens Jr.
WR Alex Torres
LT LaAdrian Waddle
IR Tyson Williams
S Chris Yeakey
IR Austin Zouzalik

PICTURE THIS

I have wistfully been thinking about the first home game of the season. I think that before the game even starts there will be the loudest "RAIDER POWER" chant that we may have ever heard. It is something that I look forward to so very much and I can't help but think that next year should be fun. I am hoping that I can get tickets to the SMU game. I want to be there when Kingsbury takes the field and it's a shame that it won't be in Lubbock. Maybe more than anything else, people will be talking about Texas Tech and they'll be converational again.

CLOCK IS TICKING

The season is close to an end, on some level, I can't wait to see what the spring holds. I am thankful for Coach Thomsen for coaching this thing out despite a different job that he could be doing and all of the other coaches that are here closing out this game. I'm ready for a new era and ready for a new day.

CHARTS WITH COMMENT

The defense is better, but let's not plan the parade just yet. After an epically bad 2011, the 2012 defense was better. Sometimes much better, but I really feel like that at times, the overall numbers were significantly skewed by the terrific non-conference numbers. Credit should be given for essentially averaging less than 100 yards rushing and 100 yards passing for the three nonconference games, but those numbers really affected the rest of the overall season.

DIALING UP

I really don't know what to expect from the defense. Assuming that Art Kaufman is making this his last official duty on the job, then you would think he lets go a bit, but probably not. And as an aside, even though the numbers aren't all that great, I would say that I do think that the job that Kaufman did was fantastic. The video of him teaching to the players was insprirational and made me think that Tuberville had finally gotten the hiring of a defensive coordinator right. On some level it's a shame he most likely won't be able to continue, but at this point, five defensive coordinators in five years, I don't know that there will be all that much difference. I really appreciate the job that Kaufman did and wish him well.

INJURY REPORT

Quick note in that WR Aaron Fisher did play against Baylor and so he wasn't out for the year. Good for him.

Fall Practice: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year; ATH Shawn Corker (broken foot - out 4 to 6 weeks); DT Anthony Smith (rolled ankle from scooter mishap - out 2 weeks); RB Quinton White (broken foot).

Week 1 vs. Northwestern St.: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year); ATH Shawn Corker (broken foot - may be out 2 to 4 more weeks); RB Quinton White (broken foot - may be out 4 to 6 more weeks); WR Aaron Fisher (broken leg - out for the year); OG Tony Morales (knee injury - out 2 weeks).

Week 2 vs. Texas St.: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year); ATH Shawn Corker (broken foot - may be out 1 to 3 more weeks); RB Quinton White (broken foot - may be out 3 to 5 more weeks); WR Aaron Fisher (broken leg - out for the year); OG Tony Morales (knee injury - out 1 week); WR Eric Ward (concussion - out 1 game).

Week 3 vs. New Mexico: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year); WR Aaron Fisher (broken leg - out for the year); ATH Shawn Corker (broken foot - may be out 2 more weeks); RB Quinton White (broken foot - may be out 2 to 4 more weeks); OG Tony Morales (knee injury - should be available); WR Marcus Kennard (groin - day to day); CB Cornelius Douglas (pulled abdominal muscle - 1 week).

Week 4 Bye: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year); WR Aaron Fisher (broken leg - out for the year); CB Jeremy Reynolds (knee sprain - out for the year); ATH Shawn Corker (broken foot - may be out 1 more week); RB Quinton White (broken foot - may be out 1 to 3 more weeks).

Week 5 Iowa St.: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year); WR Aaron Fisher (broken leg - out for the year); CB Jeremy Reynolds (knee sprain - out for the year); ATH Shawn Corker (broken foot - practicing, but may be out 1 more week); RB Quinton White (broken foot - may be out 1 to 3 more weeks); OG Tony Morales (knee injury - may be out 1 more week).

Week 6 Oklahoma: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year); WR Aaron Fisher (broken leg - out for the year); CB Jeremy Reynolds (knee sprain - out for the year); ATH Shawn Corker (broken foot - should be practicing); RB Quinton White (broken foot - may be out 2 more weeks); OG Tony Morales (knee injury - should be practicing).

Week 7 West Virginia: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year); WR Aaron Fisher (broken leg - out for the year); CB Jeremy Reynolds (knee sprain - out for the year); ATH Shawn Corker (broken foot - should be practicing); RB Quinton White (broken foot - may be out 1 more week); OG Tony Morales (knee injury - should be practicing).

Week 8 TCU: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year); WR Aaron Fisher (broken leg - out for the year); CB Jeremy Reynolds (knee sprain - out for the year); ATH Shawn Corker (broken foot - should be practicing); RB Quinton White (broken foot - should be practicing); OG Tony Morales (knee injury - should be practicing); WR Bradley Marquez (knee injury - out for the year); WR Javon Bell (broken ankle - out for the year); TE Jace Amaro (bruised ribs - questionable); CB Cornelius Douglas (twisted knee - questionable).

Week 8 Kansas St.: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year); WR Aaron Fisher (broken leg - out for the year); CB Jeremy Reynolds (knee sprain - out for the year); WR Bradley Marquez (knee injury - out for the year); WR Javon Bell (broken ankle - out for the year); TE Jace Amaro (bruised ribs - questionable); CB Cornelius Douglas (twisted knee - questionable); NB Tre Porter (knee);

Week 9 Texas: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year); WR Aaron Fisher (broken leg - out for the year); CB Jeremy Reynolds (knee sprain - out for the year); WR Bradley Marquez (knee injury - out for the year); WR Javon Bell (broken ankle - out for the year); TE Jace Amaro (bruised ribs - questionable); CB Cornelius Douglas (twisted knee - questionable); FB Omar Ontiveros (torn ACL - out for the year).

Week 10 Kansas: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year); WR Aaron Fisher (broken leg - out for the year); CB Jeremy Reynolds (knee sprain - out for the year); WR Bradley Marquez (knee injury - out for the year); WR Javon Bell (broken ankle - out for the year); TE Jace Amaro (bruised ribs - questionable); CB Cornelius Douglas (twisted knee - questionable); FB Omar Ontiveros (torn ACL - out for the year).

Week 11 Oklahoma St.: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year); WR Aaron Fisher (broken leg - out for the year); CB Jeremy Reynolds (knee sprain - out for the year); WR Bradley Marquez (knee injury - out for the year); WR Javon Bell (broken ankle - out for the year); TE Jace Amaro (bruised ribs - questionable); CB Cornelius Douglas (twisted knee - questionable); FB Omar Ontiveros (torn ACL - out for the year).

Week 12 Baylor: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year); CB Jeremy Reynolds (knee sprain - out for the year); WR Bradley Marquez (knee injury - out for the year); WR Javon Bell (broken ankle - out for the year); TE Jace Amaro (bruised ribs - questionable); CB Cornelius Douglas (twisted knee - likely); FB Omar Ontiveros (torn ACL - out for the year).

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