The 2011 football season for Texas Tech broke a lot of records in the Red Raiders football history, mostly in negative ways.
The list of records snapped includes the end of a 16-year streak of consecutive winning seasons, the end of an 18-year streak of bowl eligibility and the end of a 15-game winning streak against Baylor.
There are many reasons why the Red Raiders fell so far in 2011, but two reasons stick out - having the 115th ranked defense and a plethora of season ending injuries to key players.
Wide receiver Alex Torres and running backs DeAndre Washington and Eric Stephens all had season ending knee injuries at different times throughout the season. Cornerback/ safety Tre' Porter had a season ending head injury late in the season. On top of all of that, linebacker Pete Robertson had a season ending shoulder injury and offensive lineman Tony Morales was injured before the season started and did not play.
Tech loses senior running back Aaron Crawford who rushed for 336 yards and one touchdown, Crawford was a hard worker and a serviceable back at Tech, but was riddled with injuries throughout his career. The Red Raiders also lose senior tight end Adam James who had 359 receiving yards and one touchdown. Senior wide receiver Jacoby Franks went for 223 receiving yards and one touchdown. Other notable losses are offensive guard Lonnie Edwards, center Justin Keown, offensive tackle Mickey Okafor and defensive end Scott Smith.
The good news for Tech is that they return nine offensive and ten defensive starters from last year's team, which is ranked second most in the country for the 2012 season.
Among these returning starters are quarterback Seth Doege who threw for 4004 yards with 28 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. Doege will provide leadership for the Red Raiders 2012 squad. Senior running back Eric Stephens will continue rehabbing his season ending injury and is likely to return for the 2012 season pending how well his rehab goes. Stephens ran for 565 yards and eight touchdowns in just five games last year. Wide receiver Eric Ward will provide a nice target again for Doege in 2012 as he went for 800 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in a breakout season last year.
Returning cornerback/safety Tre' Porter had 21 solo tackles and one interception last year as a cornerback and should move to his more natural position at safety in 2011. The defense will also have leadership from safety Terrance Bullitt who was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal defense last year. Bullitt had 42 solo tackles and will be looked at as the leader on defense in 2012.
Head coach Tommy Tuberville had another top 25 recruiting class this year. Standouts in the 2012 class include four star junior college wide receiver Javon Bell (Perkinston, MS), four star junior college linebacker Will Smith (Riverside, CA), four star wide receiver Dominique Wheeler (Crockett, TX), four star offensive guard/defensive lineman Michael Starts (Waco, TX) and four star wide receiver Reginald Davis (Tenaha, TX).
With so many returning starters and a solid quarterback returning for the 2012 season, it's hard to see Tech get any worse than they were last year. An experienced defensive coordinator in Art Kaufmann and a favorable home schedule should help Tech return to a winning record in 2012. If Tech can limit it's injuries and have a serviceable defense, things could be looking much better for the Red Raiders next year.
Big 12 season record predicitons:
My prediction: 7-5