Thursday, August 11, 2011
Assessing the Big 12's second-year coaches
By David Ubben
Here's a look at how the Big 12's second-year coaches stand heading into 2011.
Turner Gill, Kansas
How Year 1 went: Uh, not well. The Jayhawks got off to the worst possible start, stumbling to an embarrassing, unwatchable 6-3 home loss to North Dakota State. Hope sprang up after a shocking win over the defending ACC champion -- No. 15 Georgia Tech -- the next week, but the Yellow Jackets finished 6-7, and the Jayhawks lost five of their seven games by more than 20 points. Kansas notched a conference victory but did it by erasing a 45-17 fourth-quarter lead in just more than 11 minutes, beating 5-7 Colorado and ending Dan Hawkins' career as the head Buffalo. Kansas finished the year 3-9 and just 1-7 in conference play.
What we can expect in Year 2: Improvement is the name of the game for Kansas, and it starts with being competitive. Simply put, losses like of the 55-7 variety to Baylor or 59-7 to in-state rival Kansas State aren't acceptable. The Jayhawks got better later in the year, staying competitive early with division champions Oklahoma State and Kansas, but they'll have to be much, much better for Gill not to feel a ton of heat in Season 3. The Jayhawks hauled in a nice recruiting class with a lot more speed in 2011, and Gill redshirted much of the freshman class in 2010 for the long-term benefit of the program. They'll have to start paying off now and give some hope for the future for the Jayhawks program. Bottom line, though? Kansas will exceed expectations this year if it finishes better than last in the Big 12.
Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech
How Year 1 went: Not great, but not bad, either. The Red Raiders suffered a frustrating road loss to Iowa State and lost an early-season game to a Texas team that was undefeated and ranked in the top 10 before it nosedived to a 5-7 year. Other than that, it was a great year for Tuberville to build on. The big problem for Texas Tech was simple: It ranked 118th in the nation in pass defense. No team that wants success in the pass-happy Big 12 can do that. Injuries forced inexperience on the field and were a legitimate excuse for the problem, but even with all the defensive issues, Texas Tech won eight games and a bowl game. It's hard to be too disappointed with that.
What we can expect in Year 2: Tuberville has done everything he can to get rid of that pass-defense problem. First, he recruited the best class in school history, stocked with big pass-rushers. Next, he went out and hired secondary guru Chad Glasgow from TCU to be his defensive coordinator and bring in his 4-2-5 scheme. This year, that rough experience may pay off for younger players, as the injuries healed up during the offseason, so more experience returns to the field. This season won't be the Red Raiders' year with a new quarterback, a new running back and a loss of its top two receivers. Expect a bowl appearance before Tech loads up for what could be a big 2012 season after Tuberville signs a recruiting class in February that should be even better than the program's best ever in 2011.