Tuberville building depth at Texas Tech
DALLAS — Tommy Tuberville has had four losing seasons in his 16 years as a Division I college football coach. Largely because one of them occurred last season, a 5-7 finish in his second year at Texas Tech, he has been mentioned as someone on the proverbial coaching hot seat.
The Red Raiders are 13-12 overall and 5-12 in Big 12 games during Tuberville's two seasons in Lubbock, Texas. That certainly doesn't match the success that Mike Leach had from 2000-2009 when Texas Tech went 84-43, including an 11-win campaign in 2008.
"Every year you put pressure on yourself," Tuberville said Monday during a press conference for Big 12 media days. "We're starting to now get more depth (and) play with our recruits. Seemed like I just got here yesterday."
Depth was a common word used by Tuberville as he sat on a stage at The Westin Galleria hotel in Dallas. The former Ole Miss and Auburn head coach was very revealing about the lack of depth there was on defense when he arrived at Texas Tech in 2010. But according to Tuberville, that depth has doubled because of the last two recruiting classes.
"We're making progress," he said. "That's what I look for as a head coach, are we making progress in recruiting, are we getting our guys? We recruited a lot better in the last two years than I dreamed we ever would."
"Just being here a couple of years, everybody said, 'You're on the hot seat.' I'd like to coach a few of these guys I recruited," Tuberville added. "So hopefully we can get this thing going a little bit better each year. We're not there yet. I'll be the first to tell you, but we're much closer than we were three years ago."
Offensively, returning a healthy Eric Stephens, a product of Mansfield Timberview High School, is significant if the Red Raiders are going to continue making the progress that Tuberville was speaking about.
Before the senior running back dislocated his left knee against Texas A&M on Oct. 8, he had amassed 565 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in five games. More importantly, Texas Tech was 4-1 at that point.
Tuberville said Monday that Stephens, who had to wait a month before having surgery because the injury was so severe, was doing "much better" and is "probably 80 percent." Stephens hasn't been cleared for contact but he has been running and making cuts for the last five or six weeks.
"We'll keep players off of him," Tuberville said. "But sooner or later he's going to have to have contact. We have three nonconference games early. We hope to get him in some if not all of those games to get his confidence back, because that's what you need when you have an injury like that."