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Art Kaufman & Fred Tate at Texas Tech: A discussion with Viva The Matadors

Seth of Viva The Matadors, our Texas Tech SB Nation site, joins us to chat about our new Cal defensive coordinator and defensive line coach and their time in Lubbock.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

How was Fred Tate viewed by recruits? Was he a strong recruiter?

I don't think he had time to establish relationships. I don't really recall any one recruit talking about Tate, but like everything else, to be successful in recruiting, in Texas or anywhere, is to have relationships with high school coaches and Tate never really had the opportunity to do that at Texas Tech.

Tate has been jumping around since he started coaching in 1997, with his longest gig being three separate two-year jobs. Any insight as to why that is?

That was never really discussed at Texas Tech. Assistant coaching is all about improving your name without staying too long if the results are less than desirable.  Try to keep moving two steps forward without taking a step back.

Describe the type of defense that Kaufman installed at Tech. Which, if any, position on the field is the key to the defense's success?

The biggest thing that Kaufman did at Texas Tech was install a defense that was as plain and vanilla as you've seen.  But that's exactly what Texas Tech needed.  The misconception about Tommy Tuberville is that he brings with him the defense because he'll talk for ages about how he used to coach Ray Lewis and Miami.  The year before Tuberville, Texas Tech ran a 4-3. Tuberville initially hired a 3-4 defensive coordinator from Alabama at Texas Tech, then that guy got into some trouble and was let go after a year. Then he hired a 4-2-5 defensive coordinator from TCU and that was a flipping disaster.  Then he hired Kaufman. The most sensible thing that he could have done.  Kaufman ran a very standard 4-3 defense, but Texas Tech needed to see that because Texas Tech was working on their 4th defensive system in 4 years. Kaufman had to get back to basics.  As far as the second part of your question, I don't know that we really got to see Kaufman do much of anything because he was busy cleaning up Tuberville's mess and lack of direction.

What are the demeanors of Tate and Kaufman as coaches? Were they well-liked by players?

We really never got the opportunity to know Tate, but Kaufman was on film quite a bit and he is patient and did his best to get his players back on track.  Just learning how to line up correctly was something that I think he had to re-teach to these players.  This is Will Smith, who played for Kaufman his junior year:

The adjustment was very difficult between two completely different styles of coaches. Art Kaufman was a very strict technician, strictly business, no play during practice; he felt the time to relax was during the games. After a while it grew on me and I understood the concept behind it. But from Kaufman I learned a lot of technique to my game with proper footwork and hand placement.

Kaufman's specialty from a position standpoint was linebackers. Did you see any noticeable improvements from your linebacking corps when he was there in terms of development and execution?

Yes. The entire defense was technically more sound.  Up and down the entire defense, everyone knew what to do.  From the defensive line to the secondary. Texas Tech didn't always have the athletes to follow through in stopping the run, but from a technical standpoint, he was very good at making sure that his players knew what to do.  

How was Kaufman viewed by recruits? Was he a strong recruiter?

Again, only having one year to really recruit, it was difficult to tell.  To recruit in Texas you have to have some contacts in Texas and Kaufman didn't really have that.  That was maybe Tuberville's biggest fault, was hiring a bunch of coaches that had to get to know the high school coaches in Texas and with constant defensive turnover on the coaching staff, that was really tough.

How would you assess Kaufman's initial game plans and his ability to make in-game adjustments?

I don't think anyone will tell you that Kaufman's defensive game plan was any sort of exotic and awesome game plan.  It was simplistic.  For me, there was a real appreciation of Kaufman making sure that everyone did their job and knew their assignment.  There wasn't much variation between game-to-game and I'd doubt that Kaufman did much in-game adjustments.  The biggest thing to stress with Kaufman is that he assessed that the entire defense had to start at the ground level as a result of Tuberville's indecision.  He absolutely read that correctly.

Describe the performance of Tate's defensive lines and highlight the biggest playmakers in the scheme.

Kerry Hyder was probably the best player on the line that year. Hyder was originally a Leach recruit (if you can believe that) and a pretty athletic defensive lineman.  Hyder was also the line's best player this year. He was a good player for Texas Tech and he did well regardless of who was coaching him.

Would you say Tate's D-lines were stronger at rushing the passer or better at stopping the run? What was the unit's biggest weakness?

Statistically, Texas Tech was much better at stopping the pass, but that's really because Texas Tech was simply awful at stopping the run.  Texas Tech was first in pass defense, but on the ground, the Red Raiders allowed over 175 rushing yards a game, but I think it's unfair to blame Tate or Kaufman.  Texas Tech has been battling a depth issue at defensive line for a while now, just having enough talented players to compete.  I don't think it was anything that Kaufman or Tate didn't do.

Is there a type of play or scheme that Kaufman struggled to defend against?

A strong running game, like Texas or Baylor or Oklahoma St.   Again, I don't think this was all on Kaufman or Tate.  Heck Cincinnati was 6th overall in rushing defense this past year, while Texas Tech was 76th in 2012.  The Big 12 is an offensive conference and there is the myth that it's a passing heavy conference, but that's really changed over the past few years.