New Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville spoke with Matt Hayes at The Sporting News for a spring Q&A today, opening up about the transition in leadership and on offense, his commitment to defense and what it's going to be like to recruit to Lubbock.
Here's a bit of what he had to say.
"I think we're at the point now in the game where you've got to spread things out and get your best players, your fastest players, in space to win those individual battles. That's not saying we won't run the ball, but obviously we're going to throw the ball more than I'm used to. We're looking for a quarterback who can stand in the pocket and throw it, whereas in the SEC, you're seeing more and more of the type of quarterbacks who can throw it and run it."
Score that as a point for Taylor Potts in the ever-present Steven Sheffield vs. Potts debate. Tech didn't try to use the more-mobile Sheffield's wheels very often when he got a chance to play, and it looks like that will continue. Potts has more experience, but it was Sheffield at the helm for big wins over Nebraska and Kansas State. It's worth noting that Sheffield's mobility was most apparent when the Red Raiders put 31 points on the Huskers, 11 more than any other Nebraska opponent.
(Quick note that wasn't as quick as I intended it to be: I've gotten a lot of e-mail from Tech fans who took offense to me categorizing Sheffield and Potts as the "same guy" in a chat a couple of weeks ago. Obviously, Sheffield has a different set of tools and the edge in production and completion percentage, but he did it in a small sample size. A good chunk of those numbers came in one game against Kansas State, when he threw half of his touchdowns (7) and completed 80 percent of his career-high 41 passes. My fence-sitting status in the debate remains, but if I'm Neal Brown, I start with Sheffield, get him some more experience and watch for him to continue what he started. Both are good, capable quarterbacks and it's generally better to pick just one, but I'd expect both to get plenty of time in 2010. The debate might not disappear for awhile, but what's not debatable is that Lubbock will host the conference's best quarterback battle.)
Addressing the transition on the field, Tuberville made it clear what will distinguish him from Mike Leach.
"Mike did some terrific things here; I don't think anyone can deny that. But I'm a firm believer that you have to play defense at a high level -- consistently -- to win championships. The goal is obviously to score more points than the other guy. But it's a lot easier to score more if your defense helps you by holding down the number."
Lubbock won't be lacking in intrigue this fall. Tuberville's defenses at Auburn were typically strong, especially after Will Muschamp arrived and put the Tigers in the national top 10 in scoring defense in both 2006 and 2007 as defensive coordinator. Chalk that up as one more reason to watch Tech. Tuberville likely has a better understanding of Muschamp-coached defenses than any other coach in the Big 12. Will that make Texas' first trip back to Lubbock since, well, you know, one to forget for the Longhorns? Fans won't have to wait long to find out. Tech will host Texas in another early-season matchup on Sept. 18, similar to last season when Texas won in Austin in the season's third week.