As the saying goes, this isn't Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville's first rodeo. He's coached a few teams that didn't live up to fan's expectations.
So, as Red Raiders fans are disappointed with the team's 2-2 overall record and 0-2 Big 12 Conference worksheet, Tuberville said he fully understands their frustrations. And he's doing his best to get things turned in his team's favor.
"I’ve been through this before,'' Tuberville said. "There’s nothing you can say.
"I’d love for the Dallas Cowboys to be undefeated, too. I’ve been a (Cowboys') fan all my life. It happens.''
Tuberville said just because the Red Raiders went into the season with two talented senior quarterbacks, a lot of superior talent at the skilled positions, and some quality talent on defense, that didn't mean opponents were just going to roll over and let Tech has its way with them.
"Other teams play, too,'' Tuberville said. "They don’t care how good you’re supposed to be or how good you’re not.
"They’re going to play and try to play better than you.''
Talk radio shows in Lubbock are filled with folks who question what the Raiders have become in Tuberville's first year. But he knows criticism is part of the game.
Tuberville also knows there's nothing visibly wrong with his team that a few wins won't cure.
"Right now we’re limited in a lot of areas on both sides of the ball just in terms of depth and experience,'' Tuberville said. "Most of our offensive line is new and a lot of the defensive players are first-year players, but they’re getting better.
"It’s just hard to know that you played a couple of games that you didn’t play nearly as good as your capabilities. The good thing about it is their spirits are up.''
Before the season, Tuberville discussed with his team what would happen if the Raiders didn't get off to a good start. He knew there was a chance -- as with any team -- that setbacks could occur if the Raiders didn't play up to their potential.
Tuberville said: "I told them before the year started, I said, ‘Guys, you’ve got to understand this now. We’re going to have setbacks unless we just play way over our heads early. It’s hard to do that in both this offense and defense that we’re playing, because it’s new to everybody. So if we have setbacks you’ve got to make sure that you understand that goes with the territory.' Now, here in three or four weeks you can’t use that as a crutch.''
It's a territory Raider fans were not accustomed to under former coach Mike Leach. But Mike Leach isn't walking through that door.
Thus, the Raiders have to fix what ails them under Tuberville's tutelage starting with Saturday's game against Baylor at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Before the situation gets unbearable.
"Every week I tell them, ‘Listen guys, don’t worry about winning and losing. Go in and try to play better than you played every single down,' '' Tuberville said. "We haven’t played a complete game yet.
"There’s not been many times in a game where our offense and our defense has just gelled together. We don’t score and hold them, and then we go score again.''
Tuberville can't understand why his team's execution has been spotty. And he's not the only one that's baffled by that.
The criticism reached a fever pitch when Tech fell behind Iowa State, 24-0, last week before losing 52-38. Iowa State is generally considered as the worst team in the Big 12, and went into the game against Tech averaging a league-low 20.2 points per game.
"We play good football at times, but its been at different times on offense and defense,'' Tuberville said. "And then you throw in a bad performance on the special teams last week, that just makes it that much worst.
"There’s not a lot of physical mistakes that we’re making in any of the games. It’s just mental mistakes that’s just killed us.''
Those mental mistakes need to be kept to a minimal for the Raiders to turn their fortunes around.
"We’ve been practicing hard, and all four games they played all the way until the end,'' Tuberville said. "They competed and they’re trying to get better at practice, and as a head coach that’s all you can ask them to do.''
Still, Tubervlle looks at his squad and admits his hands are tied in some aspects.
"We are limited,'' he said. "We’re limited in some areas with depth and in some things that we want to do.
"We’ve got some good players, but we’ve got to keep getting better.''
Tuberville, meanwhile, understands fans only understand one thing. And that's the bottom line, which is how many games did their favorite team win.
"We lost these two games (to Texas and Iowa State), and we can’t worry about that,'' Tuberville said. "We’re going to use this week to get better and help give ourselves a better chance this week.
"And then the next week and the next week, we’ve got a chance to have a good team.''
-- Dwain Price