Minnesota-Texas Tech Preview
The last thing Texas Tech expected to be doing as college
football’s coaching carousel began to spin was hopping on board to
hire someone itself.
In the end, the Red Raiders wound up with a rather familiar
Former Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury will take over the
program as one of the youngest head coaches in the FBS, but first
interim coach Chris Thomsen will try to lead the Red Raiders past
Minnesota on Friday night in the Meineke Car Care Bowl at Houston’s
Tommy Tuberville never quite clicked in his three seasons in
Lubbock, but it was still a shock when the former Auburn coach
suddenly announced Dec. 8 that he was leaving Texas Tech (7-5) to
go to Cincinnati.
Athletics director Kirby Hocutt named Thomsen, who had been in
charge of the offensive line, as the team’s interim coach two days
later, and two days after that he found a new coach. Hocutt
announced the decision to bring Kingsbury back to the program he
starred for from 1999-2002 with a video message on Twitter.
Perhaps it was a fitting way to introduce the 33-year-old, who
becomes the second-youngest coach in FBS behind Toledo’s Matt
“It’s just been a whirlwind but I couldn’t be happier, beyond
ecstatic to be back. It feels like home,” Kingsbury said. “This is
where I wanted to be, it’s where I’ve wanted to be.”
Thomsen will still coach the bowl game, and he’ll have another
former Red Raider quarterback – Sonny Cumbie – call plays against
the Gophers. But Texas Tech fans should be intrigued with
Kingsbury’s arrival for one big reason – he spent 2012 as the
offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Texas A&M,
where he tutored Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
Minnesota (6-6) is still hoping Jerry Kill is the best fit for a
program that’s looking for its first bowl win since after the 2004
season, and it’s at least taken a step in the right direction by
making its first postseason appearance since 2009 after going 3-9
in Kill’s first season.
“We’ve been through some hard times,” senior defensive back Troy
Stoudermire said. “Coach Kill did a great job getting us back bowl
Still, the Gophers went 2-6 in the Big Ten after opening with
four non-conference wins. Only in a 44-28 victory over Purdue on
Oct. 27 did Minnesota score more than 17 points in a conference
The personnel and coaching staffs of the Red Raiders and Golden
Gophers have certainly changed since these teams met in the 2006
Insight Bowl, but their records are the same and the Meineke Car
Care Bowl has to be hoping they get a show as good as the one those
teams put on in Tempe.
The Golden Gophers held a 38-7 third-quarter lead before
allowing the Red Raiders to rally and win 44-41 in overtime,
surpassing Marshall’s 30-point comeback in the 2001 GMAC Bowl as
the biggest in Division I history.
Texas Tech’s offense, as usual, is among the nation’s best. The
Red Raiders are second in the nation in passing yards (361.9 per
game), 12th in total yards (501.4) and 16th in points (37.8) led by
senior quarterback Seth Doege, who finished second in the FBS with
Perhaps the toughest thing to maintain without Tuberville will
be the success of the defense, which made major strides in 2012.
Texas Tech was tied for 114th in the nation in total defense (485.6
yards) in 2011 but was 39th (367.3) – and second in the Big 12 –
That improvement didn’t turn out to mean much, though. The Red
Raiders only forced 10 turnovers – third-worst in the FBS – and
didn’t have one in their final five games.
They also allowed at least 52 points in four of their last
“I feel like all the losses we took this year, the tough losses,
we never got down,” said receiver Darrin Moore, who finished tied
for fourth in the nation with 13 touchdowns. “We came back the next
day ready to work. We never held our heads low. We came back and we
got right back at it.”
Texas Tech might not have to worry about scoring enough to keep
up with the Golden Gophers. Minnesota’s offense is 114th in the
nation, averaging 317.5 total yards, and it’ll no longer have its
top target in the passing game.
Junior receiver A.J. Barker, who had a team-high 577 yards and
seven TDs, abruptly quit the team in November amid allegations of
mistreatment by Kill.
Barker isn’t the only one who won’t be back. Sophomore
quarterback Max Shortell, who lost his job to freshman Philip
Nelson on Oct. 20, will also head elsewhere.
Those are minor issues in the grand scheme of things for Kill,
who experienced his third game-day seizure in his first two seasons
at Minnesota in a 26-10 loss to Michigan State on Nov. 24.
Kill walked out of the stadium and has recovered after missing
the second half of that game, and he intends to be on the sidelines
The last four Meineke Car Care Bowls have been decided by an
average of 20.3 points.
Three Texas Tech players – defensive back Cornelius Douglas,
linebacker Chris Payne and defensive tackle Leon Mackey – were
suspended for the game this week because they violated team