Texas Tech’s pass-happy offense hasn’t slowed down this season

Chris Hummer

When Mike Leach was in Lubbock, the Red Raiders were known for their great passing attack and for good reason. In Mike Leach’s 10 years there, each one of his quarterbacks passed for at least 3,400 yards a season.

But that isn’t even the most impressive part. He had a quarterback go for more than 5,000 yards on four separate occasions. These seasons include B.J. Symons’ year in 2003 where he set the NCAA single-season record with 5,883 yards thrown and Graham Harrel’s time on campus in which he became the all-time NCAA leader in touchdowns — until Houston’s Case Keenum broke that record last week.

Leach’s time with the Red Raiders wasn’t always about the offense; he was also highly successful in the wins and losses column. In his 10 years as the head man at the biggest school in West Texas, he did not suffer a losing season and made a bowl game every year. He also led Tech to its highest rank ever in 2008 when they reached No. 2 overall in the country and won a share of the Big 12 title.

However, for Leach that success was short lived, because only a year later he would run into trouble that would cost him his job. Leach was fired in 2009 after a controversy in which he mistreated a player who was suffering a concussion, by mocking him and twice confining him to small, dark places while the team was practicing.

After Leach was let go, the Red Raiders hired former Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville, to continue the program’s elevation to prominence. Which he has done, as Tech went 8-5 in the 2010 season, and are well on their way to another bowl game this year with a 5-3 record thus far.

However, the big question that Tech’s fans wanted answered before Tuberville was hired regarded what system he would run after Leach so successfully employed the spread for so many years. But he quickly put those questions to rest.

“I want to be exciting. I want to be versatile,” Tuberville said in his opening press conference in 2010.

“Again, I’ve been a defensive coach all my life. But the one thing I will tell you is that all of us that are defensive coaches all think we’re better offensive coaches than the offensive guys because we study so much of offense. We’re going to air it out. We’re going to keep the air raid. I think it’s something that Tech has hit upon that gives them that identity to recruit and we all want to have.”

But because of Tuberville’s background with defense, there will still a lot of questions about how well Tech would be able to move the ball. However, those questions were put to rest in 2010 when Tech ranked seventh overall in the country passing at 318.9 yards a game. They did not slow down in number of attempts either, throwing the ball 617 times during the year; equaling out to a clip of 47 throws a game.

That passing attack hasn’t slowed down so far in 2011 either, as a matter of a fact it has only become more explosive. The Red Raiders are averaging 359.6 yards a game and they are throwing the ball around even more, at 50 times a game.

This year’s team is led by junior Seth Doege, another quarterback in the long line of Texas Tech gunslingers. Like most of his predecessors, he’s slightly undersized at 6-foot-1, but he makes up for it with a high football IQ and an above-average arm, which could very well give defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and the Longhorns offense fits this week.

“I’ve seen enough to know that I don’t like him [Doege] (laughs). The first thing that jumps out: He can make all the throws in their offense. He can throw the ball to the wide side the field,” Diaz said.

While the Longhorns will come out ready to slow down the Tech offense, it will still prove extremely difficult to stop because of their great system that is in place. This is the same system that has kept Tech as one of the highest scoring and most explosive offenses in the nation for the last decade.

“The beauty of this offense is that they’ve got sort of a group of pass concepts that are just tried and tested and true, and they just run them over and over and over again. And they run them very fast,” Diaz said.