November 27, 2011

Season ends for Tech

ARLINGTON, Texas - As the final minutes waned down in Texas Tech's season-ending 66-42 loss against Baylor at Cowboys Stadium, you could sense the disappointment on the Red Raiders' sideline.

As Baylor fans cheered the Bears on in their mop up work, the Red Raider sideline looked lost. Seniors like running back Aaron Crawford and receiver Adam James looked like zombies. Their football careers most likely were ending as the minutes counted down.

You wish they could have one more game.

After missing a bowl game for the first time after 11 straight bowl appearances and 18-consecutive seasons of at least a .500 regular season record, where do the Red Raiders go from here to ensure Tech football never gets to the point it fell to Saturday?

"It's been a long year," head coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We just need to go out now and start recruiting. We're short in a lot of areas and we've had a lot of interest from a lot of players because they know they can come here and play pretty early. We'll go out and try to finish recruiting, go out for spring ball and try to get a few guys healthy. We'll have a few guys have surgery this week."

It is what it is.

The Red Raiders won't have the benefit of extra December practices, but a lot of Tech's squad will have time to recover physically and emotionally from a rough campaign.

"There's little margin for error in the Big 12," quarterback Seth Doege responded when asked what he learned through the course of the worst Tech season in a considerable amount of time. "You've got to take opportunities to win games when they're available and set out for you. There's things I need to work on and get better with and I'll take that into the offseason and work on that."

While the players mull over what went wrong in 2011 and what they can do better in 2012, coaches like defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow spent the night in Dallas rather than travel with the team back to Lubbock to catch flights across the country and begin the push toward National Signing Day.

There are a lot of positions that need depth, no others more than running back though. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown said freshman running back Ronnie Daniels is technically not on the football team as it stands now.

Tech started the 2011 campaign with six scholarship running backs. When spring ball begins there will only be one healthy running back, Kenny Williams.

"Go recruit, we've got to get better," Brown said. "That's obvious. We've got to get these kids better too. Most of the people that we're going to lean on are coming back, most will be back for two years. We're extremely young, we had some seniors on offense but we redshirted some kids we think are ready to step in and compete… We're close on offense.

"Obviously, we've got to get some running backs, we're thin there. That'll be priority No. 1. We're looking for a junior college offensive lineman, somebody that can come in and compete. We feel good about the commitments we have, we've got to hold onto them. We've just got to add a couple of more pieces to the puzzle."

There's a plan in place to help raise Tech from this low point, but it comes too late for a small senior class whose last football memory will be a 66-42 loss against Baylor.

"We didn't meet the expectations that we had for ourselves," Doege said. "The worst part is the seniors that have worked so hard - a lot of people don't realize just how much time we put in and what it takes to go through being a college football player. There's a lot (that goes into it) and when your season doesn't end on a high note you feel bad for the seniors. I especially feel like I let them down, personally, just because we're not in a bowl game and the season didn't turn out the way we wanted it to."

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