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After the Red Raiders stunned West Virginia last week, we brought in SB Nation's Tech blogger to talk about whether the program has turned the corner in Tommy Tuberville's third year in West Texas.
Seth Jones is the managing editor of Viva The Matador (formerly Double-T Nation). You can follow him on Twitter at @vivathematador.
1) How big a win was last Saturday for Tommy Tuberville and the Tech program?
I think it was big, but to be really significant, it's about sustained consistency. That hasn't happened since Tuberville arrived. Don't get me wrong, it was really nice and very proud, but before Saturday's win against West Virginia, Texas Tech had not won a conference game at home since beating Missouri in 2010. That's a long time not to win a conference game at home, so the fans and I'm sure the players and coaches were a bit starved for the win.
2) How has the fan base responded to Tuberville, especially after his struggles in his first two seasons replacing Leach? How much of a hot seat, if any, is he on?
I think the seat is still hot. Last year, Texas Tech was in a very similar spot, having beat Oklahoma on the road, and then losing every game for the rest of the year, some in embarrassing fashion. I think that most fans are very happy, but if they're like me, they're just a bit hesitant to celebrate any sort of turnaround until there are 7 or 8 wins in the win column and given the nature of the Big 12, I don't think much is a given.
3) What was the key to Tech's defensive performance against West VA? Was there some flaw in the Mountaineers offense that had previously been undetected or was it just a matter of having better personnel?
The announcers had caught a tell of the left tackle for WVU in that if his foot was far back, it was a pass play and if it was forward it was a run. I'm sure that helped a bit, but Texas Tech pressed the WVU receivers rather than give them any sort of cushion. That's a bit risky, but I don't think that the WVU receivers were really used to that style of play for the entire game.
I don't think this is a matter of better personnel either. West Virginia may have had two first round draft picks on the field, and I don't think that Texas Tech has anything close to a first round draft pick on defense. Texas Tech's defense is predicated on keeping things very simple and improving technique. The players that were very young last year matured some, but DC Art Kaufman deserves a ton of credit thus far.
4) Seth Doege's statistics are fairly impressive this season. How does he compare to some of the other Air Raid QB's of the last decade and does he have a chance of playing on Sundays?
I don't necessarily think that Doege has much of a chance to play in the NFL. I'm sure he'll be a free agent or something like that, but I don't see him getting drafted unless he continues to put up big numbers against conference opponents. He's very similar to what Texas Tech has had in the past, but then again, he is the last quarterback on the roster that was recruited by Leach. Doege makes good decisions most of the time and if he's not under pressure, he's pretty darned good. If he's got pressure, then things get dicey, but that's true of just about any quarterback.
5) Last year, Tech stunned OU in Norman before falling apart over the second half of the season. Do you think that could happen again or have the Red Raiders turned a corner?
As mentioned above, yes, I think it is very possible that Texas Tech could fall into a similar trap. I'm incredibly optimistic that the improved defense is not a mirage and the offense isn't going to nearly get shut out like they did against Oklahoma St. and Iowa St. There's definite improvement and that's encourage and it would seem like a slide could be corrected.
6) What's going to be the key to Saturday's game against TCU?
Hmm, the biggest key is for OC Neal Brown to have the ability to adjust to what Patterson and Bumpus will do defensively. Patterson and Bumpus are terrific defensive minds so I am sure that they are going to have something that Texas Tech hasn't seen and Brown needs to be able to adjust on the fly.
7) Now that A&M has set sail for the SEC, who do you think is Tech's biggest rival? Where does TCU rank in comparison to Baylor and Texas?
I'm not sure about rivals. Texas Tech is sorta in the middle with a lot of programs. UT's only rival now is OU and that's fine. Texas Tech is in the middle with TCU and Baylor and Oklahoma St., although OSU does have Bedlam. I don't know that Texas Tech has a huge rival, but that's not to say that Texas Tech fans don't look forward to playing those games with in-state opponents. Maybe it is TCU, but considering this is the first game in quite a while, true rivals play on a more regular basis.
I've never been much of a "rival" person because getting into arguments with TAMU fans about how Texas Tech was and never could be a rival was a waste of time. True rivalries are probably a bit more organic in how they are created. Every game is important, rivalry or not.