Monday, April 12, 2010
Young QBs on display at Texas Tech
By ESPN.com staff
Texas Tech's defensive philosophy under coordinator James Willis is a radical departure from what Ruffin McNeill demanded in 2009. McNeill focused on preventing the big play, allowing offenses to dictate the action on the short side of the field.
Willis' more aggressive defense focuses on pressuring the quarterback, forcing runs to the flats and making passers complete difficult, deeper throws. Texas Tech is missing its two senior quarterbacks, but in a scrimmage on Saturday, sophomore Seth Doege and redshirt freshman Jacob Karam had success.
Both threw five touchdown passes each -- seven longer than 15 yards and three longer than 25 yards. But Willis, in his first spring at Texas Tech, says he's "not at all" concerned with his cornerbacks allowing the high number of scores and big plays. Some of that stems from the situational work during the scrimmage that clearly favored the offense. Only two of the 15 scoring drives for the offense began behind midfield.
"We try to [put] them in spots like that in practice, so when the time comes in game situations they know how to handle it. We don’t want the first time they see those type of things to be on game day," Willis said. "The finishing part, we have to get better at."
New coach Tommy Tuberville has to be impressed by the progress of the offense, keyed by big performances from running back Harrison Jeffers and Alex Torres alongside the quarterbacks.
Jeffers ran for 139 yards on nine carries, scoring on runs of 40 and 29 yards. Torres caught eight passes for 116 yards and four touchdowns. Two came over first-team corner Will Ford.
"It's what the defense gives you," Doege said. "The defense pressed today, so we took a lot of shots down field and it worked for us.’’
Doege and Karam were forced into action by injuries to seniors Steven Sheffield and Taylor Potts. Both underwent surgery and will be out until well into summer. Sheffield's surgery repaired a broken foot, while Potts had ligaments repaired. Potts suffered a deep cut to his hand after hitting a teammate's helmet on the follow-through of a pass midway through spring. Both were on hand at Saturday's scrimmage.
They'll be gone after next season, but the 2011 quarterback race is already shaping up to be another great one in Lubbock.