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July 23, 2012

Preview: Legacy time for Doege

MORE: Expectations high for Doege

Alone, Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege is a pretty good player. Even in midst of the Red Raiders' worst season in nearly 20 years, even with a roster decimated with injuries, Doege turned in a junior campaign that will go down statistically as one of the best in program history from a first-year starting quarterback.

We know from last season that Doege is capable of great things when surrounded by a healthy supporting cast. He was performing at an All-Big 12 level through the first half of the 2011 season, but by November Doege only had two running backs and a handful of healthy receivers available.

The hope in Lubbock is that Doege will return to 2011's early-season form this fall.

"He'll be better," offensive coordinator Neal Brown said about Doege on Lubbock's Double T 104.3. "We're going to be better around him. I think when you're talking about Seth that one of his best characteristics is he never made an excuse. He's not a guy that's blaming or making excuses because of injuries."

Seth Doege was performing at an all-conference level through the Red Raiders' first seven games last season before the team bottomed out and lost its last five games. The hope in Lubbock is that he'll return to that early-season form this fall.
Returning Starters: Seth Doege (12)

Others Returning: Michael Brewer

Newcomers: Clayton Nicholas, Dustin Walton

Departures: Jacob Karam (Memphis), Scotty Young (La. Tech)
Seth Doege's 68.5 percent completion rate was the highest for a first-year starter at Tech in at least 20 years.

Doege finished the season with 46 net rushing yards, the highest total for a Tech starting quarterback since Cody Hodges finished with 191 in 2005. Taylor Potts had four net rushing yards in 2010.

Doege ended 2011 ranked first nationally in completions per game (33.2) and fifth in passing yards (4,004).
The Red Raiders' first two spots on the depth chart are effectively locked in with Doege and Michael Brewer. Walk-on Brant Costilla would seem to have a leg up for the No. 3 spot given the coaches' preference to redshirt incoming freshman Clayton Nicholas.
Doege led the country in completions per game and threw for 4,004 yards and 28 touchdowns last season. He improved as the year went along, even as injuries and a woeful defense caused games to get further and further out of control.

For as good as Doege was in 2011, Brown expects to see significant improvement in his second year as a starter.

"You're talking about a kid who had not played in five years (due to ACL injuries in high school) with not much help in the running game and not much help on defense throw for 4,000 yards and really we have an opportunity to win eight or nine of those games with not a lot of help," Brown said. "I think he'll be one of our most improved players.

[ More RRS: Why expectations are high for Doege ]

"From year one to year two, there's so much difference playing quarterback because nothing is new anymore. You're not going into a venue and playing on the road for the first time. Other than West Virginia and TCU, you're playing the opponents a second time so it's a little bit more comfortable. He knows how to react to things a little bit better when people do things differently defensively. I think he's going to have a really good year."

Doege, not one to call attention on himself, notes that the return of several injured players from last year -- namely running back Eric Stephens and several receivers -- will make things much easier for him this fall.

"Eric Ward is coming back," he said. Darrin Moore who was the leading receiver in the nation for three games (will be back). We've got a lot of young guys like Jakeem Grant, Javares McRoy. All those guys can really get the ball and do something with it."

Behind Doege is a capable backup in Michael Brewer, who has impressed since arriving on campus in January 2010. Though Brewer has yet to take a live game snap for the Red Raiders, the Austin (Texas) Lake Travis product is Doege's heir apparent.

NEW FACES: Tech added one quarterback in the 2012 recruiting class in Abilene Cooper quarterback Clayton Nicholas.

The first-year quarterback will start as the third string quarterback due to the transfers of Jacob Karam (Memphis) and Scotty Young (La. Tech).

[ More RRS: The plan for Doege's heir apparent, Michael Brewer ]

If everything goes according to plan, Nicholas can redshirt behind Doege and Brewer and still get some experience by traveling with the team for road games and running the scout team during the weekdays.

Dustin Walton transferred to Tech from New Mexico following the spring semester. He will redshirt this season due to NCAA transfer rules, but should have three years to play starting in 2013.

PRESSURE IS ON: Seth Doege. Even though Doege performed well in his first year as a starter and has largely (and correctly) escaped blame for the Red Raiders' miserable late-season slide, his legacy is on the line this fall. He may not have been a big reason that Tech missed a bowl game last year, but as the team's starting quarterback he will forever be linked to last year's 5-7 disappointment.

Fortunately for Doege, the final chapter on his career has yet to be written. His team isn't perfect. The Red Raiders' defense, while improved, is still an area of concern and there are questions at running back and offensive line. But there is enough talent there, especially with Doege at the helm, to bring Tech back to the postseason.

BIGGEST QUESTION: How much will we see of Michael Brewer? The Red Raiders will open the season with three cupcakes, which should allow for some mop-up action for Brewer, but coaches indicated in the spring that the redshirt freshman could see meaningful snaps this fall.

The only question about Tech's depth chart at quarterback is who will emerge as the No. 3 behind Seth Doege and Michael Brewer, and even that is kind of a stretch. Brant Costilla took reps in the spring, and the Red Raiders will want to redshirt incoming freshman Clayton Nicholas. New Mexico transfer Dustin Walton has to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules.
1. Seth Doege SR-3L Doege has played in 18 career games with 13 starts. He completed 398-of-581 passes for 4,004 yards and 28 TDs in 2011.
2. Michael Brewer RS-FR Brewer will take his first live snaps as a Red Raider this fall. He should see a good amount of mop-up time during Tech's non-conference slate.
3. Brant Costilla JR-SQ Costilla transferred to Tech in 2010 after leading Navarro J.C. to an 11-1 record and a No. 3 ranking in the final NJCAA poll.
4. Clayton Nicholas FR-HS Nicholas is expected to redshirt in 2012. He threw for 2,956 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior at Abilene Cooper.
5. Dustin Walton FR-TR Walton, a transfer from New Mexico, will sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules. He went 20-6 as a starter in high school.

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