NCF Nation: Art Kaufman

Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville announced the hiring of six assistant coaches and the strength and conditioning staff Friday.

The new staff:
  • Darin Hinshaw, passing game coordinator/quarterbacks
  • Blake Rolan, wide receivers
  • Art Kaufman, defensive coordinator
  • John Lovett, defensive backs
  • Robert Prunty, associate head coach/defensive ends
  • Fred Tate, defensive line
  • Joe Walker, director of football strength and conditioning
  • Orlando Smith, assistant director of football strength and conditioning

The new hires join Eddie Gran, who was named the team’s offensive coordinator in late December.

"I'm pleased with the staff we have assembled so far," Tuberville said in a statement. "We have a group of excellent coaches with a wide variety of experience as well as strong recruiting ties and knowledge of Cincinnati and the tri-state area. I'm excited to get started, finish off recruiting and prepare for spring football."

Hinshaw and Rolan spent the past three seasons at Tennessee. Hinshaw worked with the Vols’ quarterbacks in 2010-11 before moving over to the wide receivers and serving as the recruiting coordinator in 2012. Rolan served as an offensive intern during that time, working closely with the offensive staff and wide receivers.

The four defensive coaches all join Cincinnati from Texas Tech. Kaufman has 11 years experience as a coordinator at the FBS level. The 2012 Broyles Award nominee was a former defensive coordinator at North Carolina and Mississippi, where he first worked with Tuberville. Kaufman has also has coached at Southern Miss, Middle Tennessee State, East Carolina, Arkansas Tech and Louisiana Tech.

Lovett returns to Cincinnati for his second stint with the Bearcats, having served as defensive coordinator from 1989-92. His career includes stints as defensive coordinator at Miami, Bowling Green, Clemson, Auburn, Maine and Cincinnati. Lovett and Tuberville first coached together at Ole Miss and then again at Auburn from 1999-2001 and at Texas Tech in 2012.

Prunty helped Texas Tech put together its top-two rated recruiting classes in school history in 2011 and 2012. He was the head coach at Hargrave Military Academy from 2002-10, coaching 27 players who would later play in the NFL.

Tate has had coaching stints at Marshall, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Southern Miss, East Carolina, Middle Tennessee State, Jacksonville State and Texas State. After graduating high school, he spent five years in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer. Following his service, Tate was a junior college All-American at East Central CC before finishing his career at Southern Miss.

Both Walker and Smith join Cincinnati from Texas Tech. Walker also spent time with the strength programs at Auburn, TCU, Kansas State and Pittsburgh. Smith was a two-time All-Conference USA running back in the late 1990s at Cincinnati. Before joining the Red Raiders, Smith worked previously at South Carolina, Kansas and Minnesota.

Halloween in the Big 12

October, 31, 2012
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It's been a spooky season in the Big 12 this year. To commemorate Halloween on the blog, we're letting you know what to keep an eye on.

Jason Voorhies (team that refuses to die): TCU. The Frogs have taken their licks. Casey Pachall is gone. The team's top two running backs are gone. Receiver Brandon Carter is hurt now, and defensive end Stansly Maponga is banged up. Still, TCU keeps playing, despite losing more than 20 players from this year's team since the end of last season. The Frogs are 5-3 and playing tough in their first year in the Big 12.

Thrillers: Texas. The Longhorns can't stop playing heart stoppers. They converted huge fourth downs on game-winning drives in the final minutes to beat Oklahoma State earlier this season and Kansas last week. They came up short in a dramatic loss at home to West Virginia and hung on late for a six-point win over Baylor.

In the graveyard: Baylor's post-RG3 world. There was plenty of talk about this not being the "same old Baylor" despite losing the best player in the program's history, Robert Griffin III. It's not, and the Bears have been largely competitive, but you can't hide from the record. Baylor is 0-4 in Big 12 play, and that record doesn't look much different than pre-Art Briles Baylor, though the team on the field does. Will we see a second-half revival and a return to the postseason for the third consecutive season?

Frightful sight: Kansas State. Beware of the Wildcats and their ageless coach, Bill Snyder. Who has the highest scoring offense in the Big 12? It's not Oklahoma. It's not Oklahoma State. It's not West Virginia or Baylor. It's the Wildcats and their "slow, meandering offense." The Wildcats have had just two of seven games decided by fewer than two touchdowns this year.

Cursed: Oklahoma State. The Cowboys can't get away from costly injuries to quarterbacks this year. Wes Lunt suffered an ugly knee injury early on and missed more than a month while J.W. Walsh racked up impressive numbers. Then last week, Walsh suffered a knee injury and forced Lunt back into duty. Did someone on the team sell their soul for last year's Big 12 title? It's been a cursed season for QBs in Stillwater.

Haunted house: Owen Field. It's usually a house of horrors for opposing teams. Before this year, Bob Stoops was 77-3 at home. This season, the Sooners are just 2-2, with wins over Florida A&M and Kansas. Meanwhile, top three teams Notre Dame and Kansas State entered Oklahoma as double-digit underdogs and knocked off the Sooners anyway.

Time for a few Halloween costume suggestions:
  • West Virginia's entire team:Two-Face from the Batman series. Obvious reasons, I'd say. Juggernauts one week. Getting blown out the next.
  • Collin Klein: I mean ... what else could he be?
  • Bill Snyder:Richard from LOST. Hasn't aged a day in decades.
  • Texas Tech DC Art Kaufman:MacGyver. He's taken a group of jucos and signees with varying levels of experience and turned them into the bomb.
  • Terrance Williams: Vacuum cleaner. Throw something in his area code. It gets sucked in.
  • Charlie Weis: Sisyphus. The character from Greek mythology was once a king who believed he was more clever than Zeus. The gods punished him by making him push an enormous boulder up an endless mountain for eternity.
  • Art Briles: Eric Taylor. He climbed his way up the high school ranks, and he's as Texan as they come. Take state, y'all!
  • Arthur Brown: Predator. Once he's locked his radar in on you, you're going down, buddy.
  • Bob Bowlsby: President Andrew Johnson. His predecessor held together that which nearly crumbled under his term. Now, it's up to the new guy to begin building a brand-new country, er, conference.

I also asked those of you who follow me on Twitter for some suggestions. Here's the best of what you came up with (the ones that weren't too mean, anyway. Man, some of you were brutal):
And a couple costumes that just need to be seen:

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 7

October, 14, 2012
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Here's some hardware for a job well done across the Big 12 on Saturday:

Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma: Oklahoma dominated everywhere on Saturday, and with apologies to the Sooners' defense (who got a helmet sticker last week, I might add), I'm going with the man who maximized every touch in Saturday's 63-21 victory over Texas. Millard caught a 73-yard pass and scored on a 25-yard reception. He finished with five catches for 119 yards and ran three times for 45 yards. His day included one hurdle over a defender and another play in which he hurdled one defender while a second defender bounced off of his legs. Ridiculous.

Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Klein had a very Collin Klein-like day in Saturday's clutch 27-21 win at Iowa State. On the final scoring drive for K-State, with the Wildcats clinging to a 24-21 lead, he converted third downs of 8, 5 and 2 yards to extend the drive and milk eight minutes off the clock. He finished with 187 yards on 16-of-24 passing and rushed for three scores and 105 yards on 25 carries. Great day on what looked to be -- and was -- a tough matchup for the 'Cats.

Texas Tech's defense: Geno Smith wasn't sure what went wrong on Saturday, but everything went right for the Texas Tech D, who held the West Virginia quarterback to just one touchdown pass and forced stops deep in its own territory all game long. West Virginia had 408 yards of offense, but went just 2-of-7 on fourth down in the Red Raiders' 49-14 dismantling. The Texas Tech D constantly stymied the Mountaineers offense, and Smith had his lowest completion percentage of the season by far, at just 52.7 percent (29-of-55). That's a good of an offense as you'll see in the country, and Tech held it to 14 points. Did anyone think that was possible before Saturday? Coordinator Art Kaufman has these boys rollin'.

Quinn Sharp, P/K, Oklahoma State: Sharp provided the winning margin in OSU's wet, sloppy, storm-delayed 20-14 victory over Kansas by booming field goals of 42 and 49 yards and drawing a roughing-the-kicker penalty on a late punt that prevented KU from getting one more shot to win the game. He also boomed a 73-yard punt, put one inside the 20-yard line and averaged 53 yards on his five punts for the night.

Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU: Boykin threw for one fourth-quarter touchdown and ran for another, redeeming himself for a rough outing against Iowa State a week ago on just one day's practice at quarterback the week of the game. Boykin finished the Horned Frogs' 49-21 victory at Baylor with four touchdown passes and 261 yards on 22-of-30 passing. He also ran for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Instant analysis: Texas Tech 49, WVU 14

October, 13, 2012
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LUBBOCK, Texas -- That was a first-class beatdown from start to finish. Texas Tech turned in its best performance of the season on the same day West Virginia turned in its worst. The result: a 49-14 loss that ranks among the most embarrassing for West Virginia in a long time.

Geno Smith looked out of sorts and uncomfortable, and the Texas Tech defense played inspired all game. Let's take a closer look at some instant analysis:

It was over when: West Virginia failed to score on its first three drives of the second half and Texas Tech scored a touchdown to take a 42-7 lead. Any hopes of a comeback from a 35-7 halftime deficit were never realized.

Game ball goes to: Texas Tech defensive coordinator Art Kaufman. He confused Geno Smith (29-of-55, 275 yards, TD) and made the passer uncomfortable all day. The secondary covered well, but Smith was rushed constantly and flushed from the pocket with no options downfield for most of the day. The Red Raiders had a solid scheme and put together a complete team performance defensively. Smith avoided throwing his first interception of the season, but that was about the only bright spot for the Mountaineers' offense.

Stat of the game: West Virginia was just 2-of-7 on fourth downs. Last week against Texas, WVU was 5-of-5.

Stat of the game 2: Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville is now 6-2 versus top-five teams all-time, with wins over No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 5 West Virginia in consecutive seasons.

Unsung hero of the game: Seth Doege, QB, Texas Tech. Much of the focus Saturday will be on what Texas Tech's defense did to West Virginia, but Doege shredded West Virginia's defense and found open receiver after open receiver. He finished with a career-high 504 yards and six touchdowns on 32-of-42 passing, and put the ball on the money, into the hands of his playmakers all day.

What Texas Tech learned: This team has the potential to be much better than anyone expected. Iowa State? Good team. West Virginia? Obviously a good team. Oklahoma showed last week that Texas Tech can look very average if not bad, but the potential is clear. Can Texas Tech keep doing it every week? A Casey Pachall-less TCU team awaits next week. Texas Tech should win that game handily, which would make it officially bowl-eligible after a five-win season in 2011. Then again, Texas Tech beat No. 1 Oklahoma for its fifth win of the season last year and didn't win again the rest of the season. Which will it be?

What West Virginia learned: The road to a Big 12 title won't be an easy one. Texas Tech got blasted a week ago, and this week, the Red Raiders did the blasting on West Virginia's second trip west to Texas in two weeks. The travel woes and the wind? I'm not buying it. In an unfamiliar league trying to learn unfamiliar personnel, the potential was high that somebody would thwack West Virginia at some point. It just so happened to be Texas Tech. Lubbock has always had a Bermuda Triangle feel about it, and West Virginia experienced that firsthand Saturday, leaving with a blistered behind.

Big 12 game predictions: Week 6

October, 4, 2012
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Time to pick this week's games across the Big 12. It's a small slate -- only four games -- but it should be interesting. Outside of Kansas State-Kansas, I'd say anything could happen in the other three games. Could be a very upset-filled Saturday.

I'll be in Austin, Texas, on Saturday to see the Longhorns host West Virginia in the Mountaineers' first Big 12 road game. I'm pretty excited about it.

Oklahoma State and Baylor are off this week.

On to the predictions!

Last week: 4-0 (1.000)

Overall: 29-5 (.853)

No. 7 Kansas State 44, Kansas 17: Nobody is taking this game more seriously than Bill Snyder. The man gets his teams ready for Kansas. Ron Prince never beat the Jayhawks. Snyder, meanwhile, is 16-4 against his in-state rival, including two of the most complete beatdowns the Turner Gill-coached Jayhawks ever received. Snyder gets his guys up for this game, and Collin Klein takes care of business against an improving KU defense.

Texas Tech 28, No. 17 Oklahoma 27: Give me the upset. Texas Tech's revamped defense harasses Landry Jones and proves it's here to stay. Meanwhile, Oklahoma's struggles in Lubbock continue. Seth Doege has a big game against the Sooners secondary and Texas Tech propels itself into the top 25. Art Kaufman might be something of a miracle worker with this defense.

No. 15 TCU 17, Iowa State 16: This will be a rare defensive struggle in the Big 12. Iowa State has an underrated defense and its linebackers are well-equipped to shut down TCU's running game. TCU's defense will force Steele Jantz into more mistakes, too. The Horned Frogs have major problems, but make the necessary plays in the fourth quarter to get a clutch win.

No. 8 West Virginia 41, No. 11 Texas 38: I'm taking the upset here, too. West Virginia's offense is too much in Austin and though Geno Smith throws his first interception of the season, his four touchdown passes are just enough to get one of the biggest wins in WVU history. The Mountaineers negate a Texas pass rush with a healthy diet of screens, and Texas' tackling issues are a major problem against a slippery Tavon Austin, who all too often looks like he's covered in some sort of grease. More on this game later today in my Game of the Week video.

Texas Tech rolls over Northwestern State

September, 1, 2012
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Not much to take away from Texas Tech's 44-6 win over Northwestern State, besides the literal truth that the Red Raiders are in another league from their opponent on Saturday.

Seth Doege threw an interception (he had just 10 in 2011) before he threw a touchdown, but he finished 23-of-34 for 199 yards, a touchdown and the interception.

The biggest thing that brought a smile to my face? Seeing Eric Stephens return and score a pair of touchdowns. It's his first action since suffering a horrific knee injury against Texas A&M last year. The Red Raiders still weren't sure how he'd handle live contact.

Tommy Tuberville said this week the plan was to get Stephens 10-15 touches, and he did even more. Stephens carried the ball 16 times for 58 yards, and caught three balls, too. That's a good indicator for Stephens' future. Tuberville said that plan was flexible depending on how Stephens was feeling, and getting him 18 touches in a blowout win suggests he certainly felt good, or at least good enough.

Stephens isn't as fast as he was last year, but we'll see how he responds when Big 12 play starts.

Northwestern State isn't a team that's going to test your defense, but new coordinator Art Kaufman has to feel very encouraged about no major busts that cost the Red Raiders.

The Red Raiders gave up just 84 yards of offense and racked up 500 of their own. Texas Tech couldn't stop anybody from running the ball last year, but Northwestern State had just 13 yards on 28 carries.

Few outside Lubbock are going to be truly impressed by those numbers, but it's something to build on for a defensive unit that was one of the nation's worst last year.

Big 12 spring football preview

February, 21, 2012
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Spring football is already under way at Texas Tech, but in the coming weeks, the Big 12's other nine programs will join the Red Raiders in taking the field as a team for the first time since January, December or November for some.

Here's a preview of what to expect:

BAYLOR BEARS

Spring practice start date: March 19
Spring game: April 14

What to watch:
  • Nick Florence: It's not official, but the Baylor quarterback job is Florence's to lose. That means he inherits the unenviable task of replacing the school's first Heisman winner. He replaced RG3 in 2009 with mixed results, but showed some major potential in a win over Texas Tech when RG3 took a shot to the head and sat out the second half. Can he keep the bowl streak alive at Baylor? We'll get an idea this spring.
  • The defense's progression: You didn't need to see much more than the 67-56 Alamo Bowl win over Washington to know the Bears needed some work on defense. In the month of November, Baylor became the first team in FBS history to win four consecutive games in a single season while also giving up at least 30 points in each of those games. The defense can't make Florence pick up the slack to that level. Year 2 under Phil Bennett must be better. Baylor has no excuses. The Bears have the athletes on campus necessary to be at least a decent defense.
  • The team's attitude/motivation: Baylor played with a lot of purpose the past two seasons, and made history in both, cracking a 16-year bowl drought and winning 10 games this year. Is that fire still there? Baylor has to prove it is without RG3 (and Kendall Wright) carrying the team on the field, emotionally and mentally.
IOWA STATE CYCLONES

Spring practice start date: March 20
Spring game: April 14

What to watch:
  • The quarterback battle: Or is it? Jared Barnett looked like the man of the future in Ames late in the season, leading the Cyclones to an historic upset of No. 2 Oklahoma State. But in the ugly Pinstripe Bowl loss to a mediocre Rutgers team, Barnett's inaccuracy posed big questions. He was benched and Steele Jantz stepped in, though he didn't play much better than Barnett. Turnovers were an issue for Jantz early on, but Barnett has to bounce back in the spring to make sure the job doesn't come open.
  • The receivers: Darius Reynolds was the big-play man for the Cyclones, but he's gone. It's going to be tough to replace him. Slot receivers Aaron Horne and Josh Lenz were productive, but did little to stretch defenses like Reynolds did. Can ISU find someone to fill the void?
  • The new man at left tackle: Iowa State had the luxury of having a future pro, Kelechi Osemele, at left tackle for the past three seasons. He earned All-Big 12 nods in each of those seasons, but he's gone now. Junior Carter Bykowski was behind Osemele on the depth chart, but will the converted tight end be the new man at tackle for the Cyclones?
KANSAS JAYHAWKS

Spring practice start date: March 27
Spring game: April 28

What to watch:
  • Uh, everything?: I mean, what's not to watch at KU? Charlie Weis steps in for the fired Turner Gill and tries to build KU up from nothing. The Jayhawks were one of the worst teams in Big 12 history last season, losing six games by at least 30 points. Weis will speak his mind and watching him rebuilding the Jayhawks is going to be fun. It all starts next month -- on the field, at least.
  • KU's new pass-catch combo: Dayne Crist is on campus, and so is Oklahoma transfer Justin McCay, a former blue-chip recruit who didn't quite catch on in Norman. Quarterback and receiver were arguably the two biggest positions of need for KU last year, and we'll get a preview of what could be a productive combo next season. McCay isn't officially eligible for the 2012 season yet -- he needs the NCAA to waive its mandated redshirt year after a transfer -- but the coaching staff is confident he'll have it granted.
  • The uncertainty on the depth chart: When a new staff comes in, you never know what to expect. Kansas' leading rusher in its final season under Mark Mangino, Toben Opurum, is now one of its best defensive linemen. Look for Weis to shake things up, too. Where? Who knows?
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS

Spring practice start date: April 4
Spring game: April 28

What to watch:
  • Collin Klein's maturation: Kansas State's quarterback could be fun to watch this spring and next fall. His throwing motion isn't pretty, but his accuracy improved in a big way throughout the season. If that continues at a pace anything close to what we saw last year, K-State's going to be a load for everyone. Look out.
  • Developing depth at running back: John Hubert is back, and so is seldom-used Angelo Pease. Bryce Brown is gone, though. Klein handles a lot of the heavy lifting in the running game, but it'd be some nice insurance if K-State could establish some more depth in the backfield. Making Klein carry the ball 300 times again is tempting fate.
  • Stars becoming superstars: Kansas State brings back more starters than all but seven teams in college football, so this team is going to look remarkably similar in 2012 to the way it did last year. However, it should get better. And its two transfers could look dominant this spring. Cornerback Nigel Malone and linebacker Arthur Brown emerged as stars last year, but we could see the duo emerge as true game-changers this spring. Look out, Big 12 offenses.
OKLAHOMA SOONERS

Spring practice start date: March 8
Spring game: April 14

What to watch:
  • New faces on, off the field: Mike Stoops' arrival as the defensive coordinator was the biggest news this offseason in the Big 12, and Brent Venables, who had been at OU for all of Bob Stoops' tenure, left for Clemson rather than become co-defensive coordinator. Hopes are high that Stoops can revitalize Oklahoma's defense. He was in charge when the Sooners rode a dominant D to the 2000 national title, and the Sooners have the talent to win it all in 2012. Receiver Trey Metoyer joins the team this spring, and could be a major contributor immediately. Two of the team's four new tight ends are also enrolled early.
  • QB Blake Bell's role: The Belldozer is back … but so is full-time quarterback Landry Jones. How will the balance between the duo look this spring? And what new wrinkles will we see in Oklahoma's simple, yet near-unstoppable short-yardage formation that scored 13 touchdowns in the second half of 2011?
  • The battle at defensive end: Oklahoma must fill two huge holes at defensive end. Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Frank Alexander is gone, as is possible first-round pick Ronnell Lewis. R.J. Washington contributed late and has potential, but David King filled in for Lewis in the final three games of the season. The duo could be great, but it could also be pretty pedestrian. We'll get an idea this spring, but Lewis and Alexander set a high, high bar.
OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS

Spring practice start date: March 12
Spring game: April 21

What to watch:
  • The quarterback battle: This will easily be the highest-profile, highest-quality quarterback battle in the Big 12. It won't be at the level of Texas Tech in 2010, but it won't be too far off. Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt will go head to head. All have plenty of potential, though Lunt may have the most. The big-armed true freshman also has the least experience. Anything could happen here.
  • Which receivers rise: Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper leave huge holes behind. It's not every day a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner walks on campus. Hubert Anyiam is gone, too. Michael Harrison is unlikely to play for the 2012 season, but the school has offered no confirmation on his status. He had the most potential, but OSU is deep at the position. Who emerges as the top target? Isaiah Anderson? Tracy Moore? Josh Stewart? Anything could happen there, too.
  • Defense needs a leader: Safety Markelle Martin has been the heart of the defense the past two seasons, but his big-hitting days are over. Who becomes the new voice of the defense? It needs to find leadership this spring heading into summer voluntary workouts.
TEXAS LONGHORNS

Spring practice start date: Feb. 23
Spring game: April 1

What to watch:
  • The quarterback competition: I still think having a competition at the spot, which Texas says it will, isn't the best option, but David Ash and Case McCoy will go at it alongside early-enrolling freshman Connor Brewer. If Ash secures the job, expect an announcement heading into summer officially anointing the sophomore.
  • More sophistication on both sides of the ball: The progression is natural and likely. Offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz had good first years in Austin, but this is Year 2. The spring won't be devoted to learning the playbook. It's time to master it. Both units could look markedly different, and much more refined next fall. Deny it all you like: Texas is back on its way to the top after a rough two years.
  • Maturing offensive weapons: Last season, the Longhorns relied on two true freshman running backs (Malcolm Brown/Joe Bergeron), a freshman/sophomore rotation at quarterback and its top receiver (Jaxon Shipley) was a true freshman. No. 2 (Mike Davis) was a sophomore. I hope I don't have to tell you what freshmen and sophomores do in college football. Look. Out.
TCU HORNED FROGS

Spring practice start date: Feb. 25
Spring end date: April 5

What to watch:
  • Can TCU shut out the scandal? Four team members were arrested in a recent drug sting and kicked off the team. How much of a distraction will that be for a program undergoing the most monumental change in its history? Quantifying the effects of the scandal will be pretty impossible, and we've got no idea how they'll handle the change, but will it be on players' minds?
  • The offense tightens up: The Horned Frogs' offense is absolutely loaded and ready to go for 2012. Quarterback Casey Pachall returns and brings his top three weapons (Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson and Brandon Carter) with him. Running backs Waymon James, Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker each topped 700 yards rushing in 2011 and all return. The spring will be all about fine-tuning an already stellar offense, and it'll be fun to watch.
  • Replacing departed starters: All-America linebacker Tanner Brock was among the four football players arrested and booted from the team, as was all-conference defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey and likely starting safety Devin Johnson. Those were unforeseen losses, but TCU can't feel sorry for itself. Gary Patterson has no choice but to find new faces to fill those holes.
TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

Spring practice start date: Feb. 17
Spring game: March 24

What to watch:
  • Once again, a new defense: Texas Tech sounds like a broken record these days when it comes to defensive coordinators. This time, Art Kaufman will be stepping to the microphone as the fourth defensive coordinator in Lubbock in four years. He's bringing a 4-3, a shift back to what Ruffin McNeil ran in 2009. Chad Glasgow's 4-2-5 and James Willis' 3-4 failed miserably in 2011 and 2010, respectively, the first two years under Tommy Tuberville.
  • The battle at running back: No one knows yet if Eric Stephens will be back next season. There's still a long way to go in his rehab from a dislocated knee he suffered last season in a loss to Texas A&M. DeAndre Washington is also out this spring after tearing his ACL against Missouri. Harrison Jeffers hung up his cleats. Who will prove to be reliable this spring? Look for the Red Raiders to try to use sophomore Bradley Marquez, freshman Javares McRoy and junior SaDale Foster in a manner similar to the way Oregon uses scatback De'Anthony Thomas, with lots of short passes and bubble screens to get them the ball in space, where they can use their speed and shiftiness to make plays.
  • Team health: Tuberville said earlier this month that the team is missing 15 players this spring. It can't afford any more injuries. It's already going to be tough to get enough done this spring, but Tech can't start getting banged up.
WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS

Spring practice start date: March 11
Spring game: April 21

What to watch:
  • Dana Holgorsen's offense in Year 2: Holgorsen didn't get a chance to coach his talented offense at Oklahoma State in its second year. The results could have been crazy. They might be at West Virginia in 2012, and the beginning steps will be taken this spring as Geno Smith & Co. get more and more comfortable with the system and Holgorsen adds more wrinkles.
  • The battle at running back: Sophomore Dustin Garrison hurt his knee in practices leading up to the Mountaineers' 70-33 Orange Bowl win over Clemson, and won't be there for the spring. What does senior Shawne Alston have in store for the spring? Garrison was the featured back last season, but a big spring could help Alston earn a few carries next year.
  • Defense needs help: Najee Goode leaves a big hole at linebacker, and defensive back Eain Smith's exit means the Mountaineers enter the season without two of their top three tacklers from a year ago. Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller's talents on the defensive line will be tough to replace, and in a league that requires a great pass rush, Irvin, Goode and Miller's 19 combined sacks must be replaced somehow.
Texas Tech has hired Art Kaufman as its fourth defensive coordinator in four years.

Kaufman comes to Lubbock from North Carolina, and is a 28-year veteran in college coaching.

"I looked at a lot of candidates for this job but when it came down to it, I turned to a guy that I knew could get the job done," coach Tommy Tuberville said. "Art is one of the best defensive coaches in the business and that is obvious when you take a look at the product he has put out on the field over the years. He has experience in the SEC, ACC and Conference USA and I know he will soon make his mark here in the Big 12."

More on this story here.

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