LEARNING LESSONS, SMITH AND FOSTER | ESPN's David Ubben had a couple of good articles yesterday. The first focuses on LB Will Smith and RB Sadale Foster. Quick story, on my way to Lubbock last weekend, Tuberville was talking on 104.3 about how he was at Riverside C.C., perhaps they were after Lee Adams and the coaches were talking up Smith and Smith asked if Tuberville would watch his tape. Tuberville said that it's common for coaches to talk-up their players and so he wasn't sure if Smith could play or if this was coach-speak. Tuberville sat down, watched the tape and Tuberville remarked, "That's you?" Smith said it was and Tuberville said that Foster and Adams would be on a plane going to Lubbock the next weekend and asked if Smith would like to get on the that plane. Pretty cool.
Anyway, here's Tuberville on Smith:
"We were so short in depth in both of those positions, at linebacker and running back, we just hadn’t been very good. Bront Bird left and he was really the only true linebacker left on the team," Tuberville said. "We’ve gone out and recruited some guys, but they were so young. We needed immediate help. Your linebacker position is your quarterback on your defense. They’ve got to understand what’s going on at every position, get people lined up."
"Will Smith has been kind of the find you always hope to run into. People slow-played him for some reason," Tuberville said. "We watched him, looked at him, and he fit the criteria of exactly what we needed. A smart guy, he’s a 3.0 student. He can change directions. He loves football and has great football instincts, but you don’t know that until you get on the team. And so, we just said, 'Hey, this guy looks the part, so let’s sign him, bring him in and we’ll see if he fits the part.' And he’s done that."
Tuberville also remarked that Foster was a blessing:
"We didn’t know the situation at running back," Red Raiders coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We went out and took a chance on SaDale Foster, and man he’s been a blessing."
Lessons learned, a spring recap and miscellaneous links are after the jump, but wanted to tease the idea of players leaving the football team were right after Glasgow was hired. I need you to weigh in on whether or you this half-arsed theory is somewhat accurate.
The Ubbenator also writes about the lessons learned last year and the one thing that I don't agree with is the following:
"There was one time last year we started five kids on defense that weren’t on scholarship," Tuberville said. "We just didn’t have them here. They hadn’t been recruited."
There were some defensive players, but a handful of players left. Lawrence Rumph, Pearlie Graves, Will Ford and Sam Fehoko to name a few. There were players there, but for whatever reason, the players left the team. Because of the lack of depth, the team faltered:
"When you don’t have depth, that’s when it starts showing up — when you have injuries," Tuberville said. "If we hadn’t had injuries, we probably would have been a little bit better team, but those are things you can’t control."
I do want to mention that the exodus of the players mentioned above seemed to occur right after former DC Chad Glasgow was hired. I don't know if that was coincidence, but after sorta piecing together what might have happened with the break-up between Glasgow and Texas Tech and his attitude toward the team, I don't know that I'd blame those players for saying that they didn't want to play for Glasgow. Still, Tuberville has to take some, if not all, of the blame because he's the one that hired Glasgow, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if Tuberville is still cursing the way that Glasgow took down this defense and made it worse than the previous year, which I thought wasn't possible.
And the thing that I do appreciate is that Tuberville didn't point fingers and takes blame for the coaches:
"Defensively, whatever we do is going to be better. We didn’t coach, we didn’t play, we didn’t act like a good defense last year. We looked like we were in shell shock all year long in terms of playing against teams that had great players. This conference last year, offensively, was unbelievable from top to bottom," Tuberville said. "We knew we were going to be very short defensively experience-wise, and then we get people hurt. And then we’re playing against some of the better players to play in this conference. I think we’re going to be better in matchups. That’s what you look for, is matchups in college football."
I do think there is a lot of truth in the latter part of Tuberville's statement, which is that teams that can take advantage of matchups do end up having more success and it's up to the coaches to make sure that those players can take advantage of an opponent. And as to championships . . . well, we're not quite there yet:
"Are we ready to compete for a championship? No, not really, just because of inexperience. I think we’re going to have some talent that can make some plays on both sides of the ball that we haven’t had in the last couple of years," Tuberville said. "I think we’re going to be much more competitive in terms of each position with a little bit more depth."
Again, I appreciate the honesty. Maybe he's down-playing this year's team, but I do think that what Tuberville is saying, which is that they should be better, but most likely won't compete for a Big 12 Championship next year and the hope is to be more competitive.
SPRING RECAP | Dave Campbell's Jake Shaw recaps the spring and the entire write-up is good, but concludes about the defense and how much improvement can be expected:
The problem, of course, has been the other side of the ball — the area that the SEC-ex Tubberville was supposed to cure. But with Art Kaufman coming to Lubbock as the fourth defensive coordinator in the past four years, a major leap forward from last year's defense — which allowed fewer than 34 points just twice and ranked 114th nationally in total defense and 117th in scoring defense — can't be expected. This unit can improve, however, if the new Tech DC can find the right guys to aptly man each position. It didn't happen last year: Five different players started at MLB; five more tried their hand at the Sam LB spot; and seven different players started at CB. Part of that was injuries, but a lot of it was due to ineffectiveness as well.
Shaw is correct in that a lot of this was injuries, but a lot of it was ineffectiveness. And with Tuberville essentially admitting that the defense wasn't coached, and Tuberville didn't qualify that statement, it gives me some solace in that there were significant problems last year and you can blame coaching, or inexperience, or lack of depth or just about anything else, and you'll be right.
MISCELLANEOUS LINKS | The Williams and Hyatt Show continues their two-deep series, but this time they're talking about coaches . . . Crystball Run ranks the Big 12 coaching jobs . . . Pistols Firing has a good discussion about Baylor's recent success that's really good . . . Grantland examines why it's take 143 years for a playoff . . .