and Neal Brown might have a slightly different take on Seth Doege than the
average Red Raider fan. For while those who cheer instead of coach tend to view
Tech’s senior signal caller as good, the head coach and offensive coordinator
think Doege is great.
viewpoints undoubtedly stem, in part, from varying assessments of Doege’s play
a year ago. Looking at the bottom line, the fanbase
sees Tech’s first losing record since the early nineties, and passing
statistics that, while very good, were not the stuff to make one forget Graham Harrell and B. J. Symons.
Tuberville, on the
other hand, saw a rookie starter who was beset by a perfect storm from the
bowels of Hades.
“Last six games last year they knew we were gonna throw it. You know, once we
lost our running back, then we lost our backup, we ran a few draw plays but he
really wasn’t a threat because of inexperience.”
“You know, I
thought he handled it well. He took a lot of licks. I mean he got hit. That’s
what you get scared of when you say you’re gonna throw
it 80 times a game. You take a chance of them on the other side saying, okay,
we know they’re gonna throw it so we’re gonna tee off
on him. And he took a lot of hits. A lot of late hits. Had to scramble quite a
bit. But the big thing about it is he made it, made it through it.”
But the loss of running
backs Eric Stephens and DeAndre Washington was only
the beginning of Doege’s dystopia. Offensive line issues also plagued the young
west Texas gunslinger.
“We threw it in his
lap last year, first time starter in five years, taking over knowing his
offensive line was gonna be young,” affirms Tuberville.
“And he had a
backup center rolling the ball to him most of the year and he still threw for
4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns, so he’s a competitor.”
quarterback position without a credible running game and behind an
inexperienced and ramshackle offensive line might be just supportable if one
has a superb defense to fall back upon. Unfortunately for Doege, however, just
the opposite was true.
“It was really
tough for our players,” states Tuberville. “You know, as coaches, you know,
we’re gonna go through some of that. But for players to have to go through
that, your offensive guys seeing that, knowing we’re gonna have to score 60
points to have a chance to win, it’s really unfair.”
Given the problems
with the running game, the offensive line and the defense, it is easy to see
how Doege may indeed be underrated headed into 2012. But if the praise from
Tuberville and Neal Brown finds a wide and receptive audience, Doege may enter
the upcoming season facing vastly elevated expectations from all and sundry.
coordinator Neal Brown certainly views Doege as the offense’s lynchpin.
“I think our
greatest strength is gonna be our quarterback play,”
Brown declares. “I’m excited about Seth. I’m excited about his development. I
think he’s grown as a leader. I don’t think you’ll see as much of a
rollercoaster as he had sometimes last year even though he did play very well.
When he was bad he was bad; I don’t think you’ll see that this year.”
While Brown cites Doege’s maturation and improved leadership
abilities, Tuberville points to a better surrounding ensemble as the reason for
high, nay stratospheric expectations.
“Seth will have a
little easier time this year,” Tuberville assures. “He's going to have a
tougher time picking out receivers because he'll have more of them. But I think it's going to be a good
problem that he's looking forward to having.”
cuts to the chase.
“He’s one of the
best quarterbacks in the country. There’s no doubt about that. I’ve seen ‘em, been around ‘em. You know,
he’s got a better supporting cast. I’d be shocked if he didn’t throw for 5,000
this year. I’m not putting any pressure on him, but he’s got that ability.”
Optimism and confidence
are obviously at high tide in the Red Raider football camp. And if the high
esteem for Seth Doege is not misplaced, Texas Tech’s offense could well put up
numbers that are stunning even by Red Raider football standards.