Texas Tech's season is over.
With the benefit of hindsight, many of the problems that plagued this year's team were evident from the beginning.
First and foremost, Texas Tech's defense was porous in 2011, falling behind at all to Texas State was a bad sign, trailing at half may has well have been a death knell.
Texas Tech recovered and won the game 50-10, but coaches across the Big 12 were licking their chops and opposing running backs were sleeping in, rather than attending film sessions.
Then the injury bug bit.
Leon Mackey, who had generated plenty of buzz in the preseason and was even touted by a teammate as a potential winner of the Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year award, went down with a lung injury and missed several games. Texas Tech lost an unusually high number of key players to injury this season.
Would any of those players have been able to individually help Tech win one of the games it lost? Outside of Eric Stephens I say no, but then again, stranger things have happened.
Collectively, there is no doubt that this team, if healthy, would have won two to three more games, but, injuries happen and young players have to step up and fill the void.
Texas Tech did a better job of having young players adjust on offense than it did on defense. Some of these players were injured in games. Many of them were not. I would like to see this addressed immediately.
Are the players not physically strong enough? Are practices too demanding? Are practice surfaces unsafe? Whatever it is, significant injuries occurring during practice needs to be a thing of the past.
Texas Tech: above average on offense and beyond bad at defense.
That seems to be the Red Raiders' modus operandi. Starting in about 2001 and culminating in 2009 with the dismissal of Mike Leach, that was Texas Tech's identity. The relevant question now is whether or not that is still the case, or is there reason to believe something better is on the horizon?
I believe there is a brighter future ahead.
Yes, the Red Raiders need vast improvement in several areas of both the offense and the defense, but there is reason to believe this can and will happen.
First, Tommy Tuberville and his staff have proven to be good recruiters. Secondly, this was only defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow's first season—he will get better by default, and no coach was more open and honest in postgame interviews than Glasgow. The man understands what he's trying to build and he will get the defense turned around in short order. And finally, this staff has the support of the administration.
Is another 5-7 campaign on the horizon in 2012?
I don't think so. The departures of Texas A&M and Missouri and the arrivals of TCU and (hopefully) West Virginia change the landscape of the Big 12 for sure, but that won't keep the 2012 Red Raiders from winning 7-8 games and starting a new, lengthy bowl streak.