Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Breaking down spring camp: Texas Tech
By David Ubben
Schedule: Practice began on February 20, and continues through the spring game on March 26 after a pause for spring break. Selected practices between now and then are open to fans and media.
What’s new: Texas Tech will try and shore up a leaky secondary with a new defensive coordinator who specializes in exactly that. Chad Glasgow earned notoriety while coaching top defensive backfields at TCU, and he'll be running all of Texas Tech's defense starting this spring. Also, Texas Tech now has a fullback position, filled by freshman Omar Ontiveros.
On the mend: A handful of players from the secondary. Cornerback Jarvis Phillips is out for spring practice after offseason shoulder surgery, but the injuries that forced so many underclassmen to suit up in the secondary last year haven't affected them as much this spring. Receiver Alex Torres also looks back at 100 percent after battling a back injury throughout 2010. He's contributed in both scrimmages so far this spring, with three receptions for 86 yards last week and a pair of scores in the Red Raiders first scrimmage. Defensive backs Derrick Mays, Urell Johnson and Jared Flannel are all out this spring.
New faces: Early-enrolling freshman running back Ronnie Daniels, an Albuquerque, N.M. native, has impressed early. He's leading the team in rushing in both scrimmages, with 80 and 73 yards on 12 and 11 carries, respectively. Junior college transfer receiver Marcus Kennard is also in camp, along with quarterback Michael Brewer and linebacker Blake Dees. Dees also made eight stops in the Red Raiders first scrimmage and is getting some first-team reps as the backup middle linebacker.
Breaking out: Linebacker Sam Fehoko led the defense with eight tackles and an interception in the second scrimmage after making nine stops in the first scrimmage. He's presumably seized solid control of the middle linebacker position, just ahead of the youngster, Dees.
On the move: Safety Terrance Bullitt is starting at a new position, strong safety, after mild contributions in 12 appearances last year. He played with a broken hand in 2010. His new position in Glasgow's offense is closer to the line of scrimmage, where he'll be more responsible for slot receivers and help in the running game.
Question marks: The obvious one is the secondary. It remains to be seen how much better they'll be in that area. If Texas Tech gets burned with the pass in 2011 like it did in 2010, it'll have a hard time winning more than 7-8 games, so the importance of improving in that area is difficult to overstate.
Big shoes to fill: Both of the Red Raiders' top receivers, Detron Lewis and Lyle Leong, are gone. Torres has big potential and experience as a freshman, but beyond him, the opportunity to emerge is there for younger players, or even new players like Kennard. Eric Ward is starting at Leong's old spot. Shawn Corker had a big day (7 rec, 131 yards, 2 TD) in the second scrimmage, and could become a key part of the offense. The Red Raiders need moderate contributors like Austin Zouzalik, Tramain Swindall and Cornelius Douglas to become big contributors next year and help out their new quarterback. The Red Raiders also have to replace standout defensive tackle Colby Whitlock.
All eyes on: Quarterback Seth Doege. Jacob Karam is gunning for his spot with a nice performance in the second scrimmage, but Doege has the job right now. The Texas Tech quarterback spot carries with it a certain degree of expectation, and Doege has to prove he can first hold off Karam and live up to it on the field this spring and next fall.