Like any football team, good, mediocre or bad, Texas Tech has several players whose play will be particularly critical to the squad's success. These players, whether by virtue experience, leadership ability, importance of the position played, depth concerns, or sheer talent, are especially crucial. They may or not be the best players on the club, but they would be very conspicuous were they to be absent for any reason. In fact, that may be the best way to conceive of the critical players—they are the performers the team could least afford to lose.
With this series, we will take a reverse order look at the Red Raider football players we consider most invaluable.
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No single person was responsible for Texas Tech's dismal 2011 season. It was a season which featured a 34-point home loss to Iowa State, a 32-point road loss to Texas, a 60-point home loss to Oklahoma State and a 24-point loss to Baylor in the team's season-ending five-game losing skid. That said, quarterbacks always reap the lion's portion of glory in winning seasons and they shoulder more than their fair share of the blame in times of trouble.
The historical ledger will forever show that Seth Doege was Tech's quarterback of record for the season in which the Red Raiders suffered their first losing season since 1992.
No matter how tough you are, that has to sting. And that searing pain should serve as powerful motivation for Doege to overshadow the ignominy of 2011 with magnificence in 2012. Seth Doege's senior season could be his year of redemption.
If Doege is to erase last season's misery, the only stat he must improve is wins and losses, because his personal numbers were good by any reasonable standard.
Doege's 334 passing yards per game was sixth best nationally. His 68.5 completion percentage was good for number 13. His 4,004 passing yards was eighth best in the land. His 28 touchdown passes tied him for the number 18 spot in D-1 football. And his passer rating of 139 placed him number 40.
Obviously, those numbers are very good, but don't be surprised if Doege improves them, and others, in the upcoming season.
In 2011 Doege's yards per pass attempt was a very pedestrian 6.9. With a better receiving corps and a healthy Darrin Moore, that number should come up.
Doege threw 10 interceptions a year ago, and he might improve there too with a year's experience under his belt.
Furthermore, if Tech's defense is improved, Doege might not feel pressure to score touchdowns every single possession in order to win. A more relaxed and confident Doege will be a better Doege.
And indeed, the senior from Wolfforth via Crane had a very good spring. He was noticeably more aggressive with his throws, rifling the ball into tight coverage to complete passes he wouldn't even have attempted last season.
But again, all the stats and all the personal improvement means very little if Doege cannot help get the Red Raider program get back on the road to success. Texas Tech football hasn't had consecutive losing seasons since 1984 and 1985 when Aaron Keesee and freshman Billy Joe Tolliver were under center. Doege doesn't want his legacy to be the starting quarterback of the two teams that cast Tech football back to those dark ages.