Tommy Tuberville 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.
The diverging 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.
Says Tuberville, "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."
Playing the 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.
Offensive 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."
Then Tuberville 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.