Friday, August 6, 2010
Opening camp: Texas Tech
By David Ubben
Schedule: Practice starts Saturday
What’s new: The defense. New coach Tommy Tuberville brought in James Willis as his defensive coordinator. Willis coached the linebackers at Alabama and won a national title in 2009. He brought with him an aggressive, blitzing 3-4 scheme that's almost the complete opposite of what the Red Raiders used for a decade under Mike Leach.
Key battle: Quarterback. Steven Sheffield and Taylor Potts will resume their abbreviated battle from the spring for the starting job, and Tuberville hopes to make a decision after the second scrimmage, trusting that one will stand out. Sheffield has the fan vote, but Potts has more experience.
New on the scene: The offensive line. Texas Tech must replace three starters up front, but it left the spring with Terry McDaniel, Lonnie Edwards, Justin Keown, Deveric Gallington and LaAdrian Waddle as starters.
Breaking out: Safety Cody Davis is the team's second-leading returning tackler, but it's been hard to make headlines on defense while playing for Texas Tech. Under Tuberville, that might change. Davis' 81 tackles as a freshman were already impressive, but this year, others outside Lubbock might take notice, especially if the Red Raiders see defensive success under Willis.
Don’t forget about: Running back Baron Batch. He's topped 750 yards in each of the past two seasons and should get more carries this year as one of the team's most talented players under a coach who loves to run the ball. Tech's offense will still the the Air Raid, but this year's version will be faster and around a 60-40 pass-run ratio, slightly more balanced than the 68-32 ratio (669 passes, 319 rushes) in 2009. Eric Stephens and Harrison Jeffers are quality backups who'll earn a few of those carries, too.
All eyes on: The quarterback battle. It's worth mentioning twice. Tuberville won't be flipping starters unless there's an injury, so one guy should be set up to put up big numbers, while the other is forced to spend his senior season on the bench. Not an easy situation for Potts, Sheffield or Tuberville to be in.
Quoting: "First thing I did when I went in to them, when I first talked to them, I apologized to them for what they went through because players are there to get an education and have fun playing college football, and they went through a season that was hectic and coach leaves and the bowl game was a mess in terms of it wasn't about them, it was about who's going to be the coach. So we had to get our players back. So it's really been good." -- Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville