In 2009, with Texas Tech quarterbacks suffering injuries all around him, a freshman named Seth Doege was thrust into a starting role for then-head coach Mike Leach’s high-octane passing offense.
Doege’s first start came in front of more than 47,000 Red Raiders fans on Halloween day. The opponent? Kansas University.
Doege finished 14-of-28 passing for 159 yards and one touchdown in Tech’s 42-21 victory against the Jayhawks and appeared to be on his way to becoming the latest potent passer in Leach’s offense.
A year later, Leach was gone, and Doege was back on the bench. During 2010, Tommy Tuberville’s first season in Lubbock, Texas, Doege appeared in just two games, both in relief appearances, and finished with 58 yards on 3-of-4 passing.
As Doege, this year’s starter, prepares for his encore performance against the Jayhawks — 11 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium — the 6-foot-1 junior from Wolfforth, Texas, leads a much different Red Raiders’ attack.
“I feel good about our running game,” Doege said. “I feel that in years past, if the passing game wasn’t all on point, then we were kind of in a hole offensively. I felt like on Saturday night (in a 35-34 victory against Nevada), the passing game wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. We relied on the running game, which is good. So I’m excited about our running game. I feel like we could run it on anybody. I feel like we are going to have the advantage there yet.”
In Saturday’s victory over Nevada, which Tech won on a pass from Doege with 44 seconds to play, the Red Raiders ran for 219 yards on 38 carries and passed for 222 yards on 38 attempts.
“I think they can beat you both ways,” KU coach Turner Gill said of Texas Tech. “Being able to run the ball and also being able to throw the ball. They’re gonna do both a little more completely now and that brings a big challenge.”
Not only are the Red Raiders a more balanced offensive team under Tuberville, but Doege has turned into a dual threat of sorts. In last week’s victory, he ran nine times for 83 yards.
“I feel like I can do some things with my feet,” Doege said. “I’m not going to outrun anybody. But if the play breaks down, if I go through my read and I can do it — if I can take off and run — I can get a few yards.”
Doege’s preferred method of gaining yards remains the pass. Through three games, Doege has gotten off to a blazing start, completing 89 of 115 passes (77 percent) for 949 yards, 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Those numbers include a record-setting performance against New Mexico two weeks ago, when Doege completed 40 of 44 passes in the Red Raiders’ victory. Doege’s 90.9 completion percentage was the highest in NCAA history for a QB with at least 40 completions. And because of that, Tuberville said his team would continue to lean on the right arm of its starting quarterback.
“We’ll throw first, run second,” said Tuberville, when asked if Tech’s recent rushing success had made him rethink his offense. “But we are going to take what they give us, depending on what they do, depending on how many people they put on the line of scrimmage. We are not saying every game we are going to throw it no matter what you do, you just don’t do that.”
Although his hot start and his team’s solid numbers have made Doege feel good about Tech’s offense, the veteran QB said he realized things were about to change with the Red Raiders set to jump into Big 12 play. Asked Monday what he knew about KU, Doege was vague but respectful.
“I know they are a Big 12 opponent. I know it’s the first conference game and I know they will be excited to play us. I haven’t watched too much to have a really good feeling, but we need to be ready to play. Every Big 12 game is a big game.”
Added Tuberville: “(Kansas) will be the best team that we’ve played, so we want to make sure that we give ourselves a chance.”
Dorsey expected back
After weeks of announcing that one of his players would miss some time because of an injury, KU coach Turner Gill got the chance to reveal the opposite on Monday morning.
During the weekly Big 12 coaches teleconference, Gill told reporters that Patrick Dorsey was on pace to return from a foot injury that forced him to miss most the first four weeks of the season.
“I anticipate him to play,” said Gill of the 6-foot, 273-pound defensive tackle’s availability for this week’s Big 12 opener against Texas Tech. “He’s done well as far as practicing right now. As long as he doesn’t have any setbacks, we anticipate him to play. How much, we’ll just see how that goes.”
Dorsey was lost to a broken foot midway through preseason camp in August. He initially was supposed to miss six-to-eight weeks but got back to practice a little quicker than originally thought. The senior from Houston started 11 games in 2010 and finished with 27 tackles and one sack.
His return bolsters a thin defensive line that recently lost starter John Williams to a torn ACL.
Shepherd to play, too
Gill also said that freshman wide receiver JaCorey Shepherd, one of the star’s of KU’s season-opening victory against McNeese State, would return from a groin injury that kept him on the sideline for KU’s loss at Georgia Tech.
“I think everything is on schedule for him,” Gill said. “As long as he doesn’t have any setbacks, he’ll be ready to play, too.”
Shepherd, 5-11, 170, of Mesquite, Texas, caught three balls for 107 yards and two touchdowns in the opener. For the season, he has five receptions for 136 yards and two TDs.
Tuberville familiar with KU staff
Saturday’s match-up will be the second all-time between Gill and Tuberville as head coaches.
The Jayhawks and Red Raiders have not met since 2009, but, in 2006, when Tuberville was at Auburn and Gill was in his first season at Buffalo, the Tigers topped the Bulls, 38-7, at Auburn.
“There’s no carryover there,” Tuberville said. “But I know quite a few of the coaches on their staff. They will be well coached. I know (their) last outing was not very good but neither was ours.”
The Red Raiders have won four straight in the series against the Jayhawks. KU’s last victory against Tech came in 2001, when the Jayhawks topped the Red Raiders, 34-31 in overtime in Lubbock.