Big 12: Marcus Kennard
2011 conference record: 2-7
Returning starters: Offense (9), Defense (10), P/K (1)
Top returners: QB Seth Doege, S Cody Davis, WR Alex Torres, S D.J. Johnson, S Terrance Bullitt, RB Eric Stephens, WR Eric Ward, WR Darrin Moore
Key losses: DE Scott Smith, TE Adam James, DB Brett Dewhurst
2011 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Eric Stephens* (565 yards)
Passing: Seth Doege* (4,004 yards)
Receiving: Eric Ward* (800 yards)
Tackles: Cody Davis* (93)
Sacks: Scott Smith (5.5)
Interceptions: D.J. Johnson* (2)
Three spring answers
1. An answer in the middle: When you recruit junior college talent, you never quite know what you're going to get. That was a good thing for Texas Tech this spring, which found a starting middle linebacker in Will Smith. He's already the team's best at the position, according to coach Tommy Tuberville. They found him while recruiting running back SaDale Foster in California, but Tech found a hidden gem that made a huge impact.
2. Depth developing at running back: Texas Tech was thin at running back during the spring with DeAndre Washington and Eric Stephens sidelined by knee injuries. Stephens' return in 2012 isn't guaranteed, but the spring gave Tech a nice chance to see what it had at running back. Newcomer SaDale Foster played well, as did Kenny Williams. The position's in good shape, even though Ronnie Daniels transferred.
3. Familiar unfamiliarity on defense: Art Kaufman arrived in Lubbock this spring to install his 4-3 defense, which on its own wouldn't be all that notable. What makes it notable? He's the fourth defensive coordinator in four years at Texas Tech. The biggest task in front of him is building depth and developing his linebackers, who were among the Big 12's worst in 2011, ranking dead last nationally in rush defense.
Three fall questions
1. Will Eric Stephens be back in time? Stephens' dislocated knee against Texas A&M looked ugly, but the impact was even bigger than anyone could have imagined. Stephens had tons of experience, and was not only the team's best runner, but was the best pass-blocking back (a huge deal in Tech's offense) and pass-catching back. Tech is hopeful he'll be back by the beginning of the season, but he'll be limited in fall camp.
2. Who's the top receiver? Is Eric Ward the most talented receiver on the team? I'd vote more for Alex Torres and Darrin Moore. Still, you can't deny Ward's production in Torres' and Moore's absence with injuries in 2011. They'll be in a derby this fall to catch passes from Doege, and look out for guys like Tyson Williams and Marcus Kennard, too. Hyped freshmen Dominique Wheeler and Reginald Davis are on the way, too.
3. Can Texas Tech stay healthy? Nothing's hurt Tech more the past two seasons than injury. They've been everywhere on defense, and last year, the team's top two receivers and running backs both suffered big injuries. There hasn't been a clear reason Tech seems to have been snake bitten so badly, but the injuries exposed the lack of depth in 2011. Reasons aside, Tech has to stay healthy to get back into a bowl after ending a nearly two-decade streak of winning seasons with the 5-7 campaign in 2011.
Texas Tech was already missing 15 players this spring from in-season injuries, but just four days after beginning spring practice, the Red Raiders are down a few more.
Wide receiver Marcus Kennard suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him out probably until after spring break, head coach Tommy Tuberville said. Twelve of Tech’s 15 spring workout sessions are scheduled before spring break.
Tech is down its top two split ends with starter Eric Ward sidelined along with Kennard. Tuberville said Tuesday he’s not sure Ward, who has a bruised shoulder, will practice again this spring.
Not what you want to see if you're Texas Tech. Neither injury is major, and the team isn't breaking in a new quarterback, but the team's inability to stay healthy is long past frustrating for the folks in Lubbock.
Ward caught 84 passes for 800 yards and 11 touchdowns, all team highs.
Kennard caught 12 passes for 182 yards.
- Tommy Tuberville: "You have to really enjoy college football to want to be a part of it, because it's not a lot of down time, it's a lot of busy time and it's a lot of late-night hours, seven days a week." All true, even if that's mostly just during the season.
- The show followed the team during its week of preparation heading into last week's 52-20 loss to Texas.
- I really enjoyed getting a look at Chad Glasgow working. An early opening segment offered a look inside a defensive coaches meeting. The Red Raiders defensive coordinator's side of the ball has struggled this year, but I'm sure the season has been a huge learning experience for the first-time coordinator from soon-to-be conference mate TCU, where he coached defensive backs.
- Robert Prunty, recruiting extraordinaire and defensive ends coach, explained the Red Raiders' "Pitbull" mentality. No, he doesn't have his players slam Dr. Peppers 24/7, Make plays, and you get your name up above the board below a picture of a pitbull. Scott Smith and Dartwan Bush made the top of the board, and the better you play, the more impressive-looking your pitbull is. Kind of hilarious. Jackson Richards and Kindred Evans were also on the board for making plays. Every week, Prunty prints out information of this weeks "bite victims." That means both team's tackles, and in Texas' case, QBs. Also, running backs. Case McCoy and David Ash were both on the wall in the DEs meeting room. From Prunty's assessment, it seems like the DEs have taken to it. Competition will do that. Here's guessing Brandon Weeden's face has spent a lot of time on the wall this week.
- The Masked Rider has used the same horse for 10 years. His name is "Midnight Matador." "This is all he's ever done, really." Becoming the masked rider comes with a written test about horse health and equipment. The rider is responsible for taking care of the horse during the year, and answers 10 open-ended questions and does a driving test with the truck and trailer that holds the horse. There's also a riding tryout and an interview with a panel of 12-15 people. The Masked Rider is far more fascinating than I ever knew.
- The statue of Will Rogers on Tech's campus was rotated after installation so its butt faced A&M, riding away from College Station. Touche, Tech.
- Interesting to see OC Neal Brown offer a team-wide academic update on Tuesday, calling out receiver Marcus Kennard to study for a history test. Stuff like that, and accountability, is where some senior leadership can come into play. Brown also announced in a team meeting that WR Tavares McRoy had gotten a 100 on a test and reserve QB Michael Brewer had gotten a 96. Positive reinforcement! "Smile, man. It's not illegal to smile," Brown said.
- "I'm only as good as my staff," Tuberville said. "I delegate responsibility and I took most of my philosophy from Jimmy Johnson when I was at Miami."
That didn't change in the second half, when he gave up a 40-yard pass over the top to Marcus Kennard that helped set up a Texas Tech touchdown.
Oklahoma responded. It moved former corner and starting safety Aaron Colvin back to cornerback, benched Lynn and moved senior backup Sam Proctor, who has a lot of starting experience, back to safety.
Since the switch, Oklahoma hasn't given up a touchdown or a completion over the top of the defense.
Demontre Hurst has been solid opposite Colvin and Lynn at the other corner spot.
Oklahoma trails 34-24 early in the fourth quarter, but for now, the biggest defensive hole appears to have been patched up.
- Bill Snyder's depth chart for the team's game notes heading into next week's game against Eastern Kentucky? A work of art.
- Snyder said he'll be releasing the depth chart tomorrow. More later on the Wildcats.
- Oklahoma didn't have any huge surprises, but the biggest news: Jamell Fleming has officially reclaimed his spot above Gabe Lynn at the boundary corner spot, despite missing all of spring practice after leaving the university.
- Three true freshmen also broke the lineup. Kameel Jackson will back up Trey Franks at receiver, and recently added linebacker Kellen Jones is a co-backup with Jaydan Bird behind Tom Wort at middle linebacker. Nila Kasitati is a co-backup behind Tyler Evans at right guard.
- Doubt the committee approach at running back? Brennan Clay, Dominique Whaley and Roy Finch are all co-starters at the position. Finch is listed last on that group, but we'll see how carries are distributed in Week 1 vs. Tulsa. Whaley is a walk-on who has had big days in the spring game the past two seasons.
- Ronnell Lewis is listed as the starter at defensive end, but the university has yet to officially clarify his eligibility status. Kenny Stills is likely suspended for Saturday's game after an offseason arrest, but he's listed as the starter at receiver.
- Texas Tech has pair of hyped defensive linemen, and both cracked the two-deep. Leon Mackey, a juco transfer, will start at defensive end in Week 1 for the Red Raiders against Texas State. Meanwhile, former UNC signee and recently cleared true freshman Delvon Simmons will back up Kerry Hyder at defensive tackle in Chad Glasgow's 4-2-5 scheme, fresh from TCU.
- Glasgow will lean on a true freshman for one of his two linebacker spots. Blake Dees had a huge impact in the spring and solidified his starting spot during fall camp.
- Receiver Marcus Kennard, a juco transfer, looks like he'll redshirt after not showing up on the two-deep, but Darrin Moore will grab the Z receiver spot for the Red Raiders.
- The rumors have been officially proven correct at Oklahoma State: The Cowboys return all five starters on the offensive line, but juco transfer Michael Bowie has crashed the starting lineup at left tackle. He'll replace Nick Martinez, who'll back up Lane Taylor at right guard now. The Cowboys offensive line is the league's best, and clearly, Bowie's hyped arrival gives it a whole lot more than depth.
- Justin Gilbert has officially usurped Devin Hedgepeth as the corner opposite Brodrick Brown. No surprise there. Gilbert's ceiling is sky high.
- Caleb Lavey was the likely starter at the spot, but he'll officially start the year as Orie Lemon's replacement at middle linebacker, where he began spring camp.
- Justin Britt replaces Elvis Fisher at left tackle. The sophomore had been inside, but the team saw him moving outside eventually. He'll take that spot now with Fisher out for the season with a torn patellar tendon.
- Hyped juco transfer Sheldon Richardson? Fifth on the depth chart no more. The recently cleared big man moved to No. 2 at defensive tackle behind Terrell Resonno.
- Center Travis Ruth is out for the opener against Miami (OH). Jayson Palmgren fills his void.
- Starting corner Kip Edwards is doubtful. Trey Hobson is listed as the starter.
- Receiver Jerrell Jackson is also doubtful. Marcus Lucas will get the nod if Jackson can't go.
- True freshman Corbin Berkstresser grabbed the No. 3 quarterback spot behind James Franklin and returning backup Jimmy Costello, who left the team and planned to join the Army, but re-joined after Tyler Gabbert's transfer.
- Iowa State made it official on paper: Steele Jantz is the starting quarterback. His backfield? Crowded, but led by Shontrelle Johnson, as expected.
- I'm not sure if it means he's playing for sure just yet, but Darius Reynolds is listed as the starter at one of the three receiver spots, despite suffering a broken toe earlier in fall camp.
- A.J. Klein, meanwhile, has moved to middle linebacker next to weak side linebacker Jake Knott. Matt Tau'fo'ou started at middle linebacker spot last year, but after suffering a broken leg, he's backing up Klein in the middle. C.J. Morgan, a freshman, takes over at strong side. I haven't seen Morgan play, but at 207 pounds vs. Klein's 243, he'd presumably offer some more, much-needed speed at the position. Jacob Lattimer? Starting at defensive end, despite a March arrest and suspension.
Remember that depth plays a big part of these rankings. We'll be ranking the top 10 individuals at each position later on before the season begins.
Other position rankings:
2. Oklahoma State
The Cowboys boast the returning Biletnikoff Award winner and 2011 favorite, Justin Blackmon, with a great group around him, too. Slot machine Josh Cooper returns for his senior year, and fellow senior Hubert Anyiam (the team's leading receiver in 2009) is hoping to return to form after being slowed by an ankle injury in 2010. Isaiah Anderson is a shifty speedster, while Michael Harrison and Tracy Moore offer a more aerial approach to receiving.
3. Texas A&M
The Aggies have the Big 12's No. 3 receiver, Jeff Fuller, who is arguably one of the top-five in the college game. But they also have the Big 12's most experienced receiving unit, with guys who won't be surprised by anything they see in Big 12 play. Juniors Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu are the team's second and third options, but fellow juniors Kenric McNeal and Brandal Jackson could be bigger pieces of the offense in 2011. Tight end Nehemiah Hicks should see his profile rise in his coming sophomore year.
Top target Kendall Wright will likely end his career as the Bears' leading receiver for all four of his seasons on the field, and 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior Josh Gordon looks like the new Jeff Fuller. Terrance Williams, Lanear Sampson and Tevin Reese round out the Bears' top five, who all had at least 40 catches last season, and all return.
Missouri still lacks a proven big-play threat, but has two pass-catchers who have some of the best hands in the game. Receiver T.J. Moe and tight end Michael Egnew won't drop many passes, and combined to catch 182 for 1,807 yards and 11 touchdowns. Wes Kemp and Jerrell Jackson bring a lot of experience and both had at least 39 catches last season. If Marcus Lucas or Rolandis Woodland can become a consistent downfield threat, Missouri will rise up these rankings by season's end.
6. Texas Tech
Tech's top two receivers, Lyle Leong and Detron Lewis, must be replaced, but the Red Raiders have a few solid candidates to do it. Junior Alex Torres will likely lead the group, but fellow junior Austin Zouzalik and seniors Jacoby Franks and Tramain Swindall will be counted on for more production. Dark horse/juco newcomer Marcus Kennard could blossom into a household name across the Big 12 by season's end.
Sophomore Mike Davis and redshirt freshman Darius White are loaded with potential, but two of the team's top three receivers (James Kirkendoll, John Chiles) are gone, and no Texas receiver caught more than two touchdowns last season. Malcolm Williams and Marquise Goodwin are as different as two receivers could be, but both need to break out to help whoever becomes the Longhorns quarterback next fall.
8. Kansas State
Brodrick Smith will be back this season after breaking his leg in a loss to Nebraska. But two of the team's top three receivers are gone, leaving converted quarterback Chris Harper as the leading returner, though Smith might have held that title if he'd stayed healthy. Sophomore speedster Tramaine Thompson can make plays if he gets the ball with some space.
9. Iowa State
The Cyclones will be breaking in a new quarterback this season and they will need a playmaker to step up. Tight end Collin Franklin led team in receiving last season but he is now gone. Darius Reynolds looks like a possible candidate to fill the role, although incoming slot receiver Aaron Horne might rack up a few catches in space. Darius Darks and Josh Lenz should earn some more targets too.
Converted defensive back Daymond Patterson is the team's top receiver, but the team's No. 3 receiver junior Bradley McDougald, moved to safety in the middle of the season. Tight end Tim Biere is one of the Big 12's best and led the team with four touchdowns last season. Chris Omigie and D.J. Beshears have some potential, and converted quarterback Christian Matthews keeps showing up in spring games. But all three, along with the rest of the group, would benefit from some consistency at the quarterback spot.
2010 overall record: 8-5
2010 conference record: 3-5
Returning starters: Offense (5), Defense (8) P/K (0)
Top returners: RB Eric Stephens, WR Alex Torres, S Cody Davis, CB Tre Porter, CB Jarvis Phillips, S D.J. Johnson
Key losses: QB Taylor Potts, WR Lyle Leong, WR Detron Lewis, RB Baron Batch, DT Colby Whitlock, LB Brian Duncan, QB Steven Sheffield. LB Bront Bird
2010 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Baron Batch (816 yards)
Passing: Taylor Potts (3,726 yards)
Receiving: Lyle Leong (926 yards)
Tackles: Bront Bird (106)
Sacks: Brian Duncan (7)
Interceptions: Jarvis Phillips* (4)
Three spring answers
1. Quarterbacks all but settled. It’s not official, per se, but Seth Doege looks likely to slide into the starting spot as the next in a long line of Texas Tech quarterbacks. He has just one career start, but the junior is the most experienced among four Red Raiders quarterbacks vying for the job. He beat out Jacob Karam and Scotty Young this spring, and that figures to continue in the fall.
2. Defensive vision is clear. Texas Tech brought in new defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow from TCU, and he spent the spring installing his 4-2-5 -- a move away from the 3-4 under James Willis last year. That third safety spot, a nickel back, if you will, should be occupied by Terrance Bullitt, who drew praise from coaches for his effort during the spring.
3. More receivers found. The Red Raiders’ top two receivers, Lyle Leong and Detron Lewis, are gone, but Texas Tech did a good job of filling their roles during the spring. Alex Torres, Eric Ward, Austin Zouzalik and Darrin Moore are the starters, but there’s even more buzz surrounding backup Marcus Kennard, who showed up this spring from junior college.
Three fall questions
1. Is the secondary still a problem? Texas Tech’s secondary gave up more passing yards than all but two teams in college football last year. This offseason was about upgrading the pass rush and improving the speed in the secondary. It’s still early in Tommy Tuberville’s time in Lubbock, and his secondary is still young after injuries forced them to play last year, but we’ll see how much last year’s experience pays off.
2. How good is Seth Doege? It’s easy to assume Doege will step in and be solid, but will that be the case? Taylor Potts was a senior who had played for Mike Leach extensively. Doege is a newbie who hasn’t played extensively since his sophomore year of high school, after being sidelined by a pair of injuries. If Texas Tech’s offensive tradition is going to continue, Doege will keep it going. If it begins to decline, it will do it with Doege. My bet is on the former, but I’d caution assuming that’s the case.
3. Is the running game for real yet? Texas Tech isn’t known for its ability to run the ball, but Tuberville wants that half of the offense to be more efficient and more powerful moving forward. The Red Raiders have a good set of capable backs, and the entire offensive line returns. Does that mean the running game will get a boost?
Like running backs, 1,000 yards is the benchmark of an outstanding season, but the Big 12 brings back a lot more receiving talent than running back talent. Four Big 12 receivers reached the 1,000-yard mark last year, and all four return. Only one of the seven Big 12 backs who topped 1,000 yards rushing will return to the Big 12 next season. In 2009, the Big 12 also had four 1,000-yard receivers, but only one (Ryan Broyles) returned.
Once again, let me remind you: This list is not the list of the Big 12's best receivers, though clearly, that's a factor. Instead, it's a list of the players, in order, with the best opportunity in their exact situations to reach 1,000 yards receiving.
1. Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma: Don't read much into Broyles being over Blackmon. They'll both clear the 1,000-yard mark easily, barring injury. Broyles, though, has done it twice already and has more guaranteed touches in Oklahoma's short passing game.
2. Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State: Blackmon won't come from nowhere this year, but teams were well aware of him after a few games last year. Look for Blackmon and Broyles to clear the 1,500-yard mark like they did last year, when they ranked second and third nationally in receiving yards. Both were finalists for the Biletnikoff Award won by Blackmon, and both have a decent chance to be Heisman finalists next year.
3. T.J. Moe, Missouri: Missouri could help out Moe quite a bit by finding a deep threat to soften up defenses for his underneath routes, but he should be a nice safety blanket for the Tigers' new quarterback. Like we wrote earlier this week, Missouri is the only team in the Big 12 without a quarterback on the roster who has started a game.
4. Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M: Fuller became the first Texas A&M receiver to ever reach the 1,000-yard mark last season, and there's no reason to believe he won't do it again. He's experienced, a good route-runner and near impossible to cover on the fade route.
5. Kendall Wright, Baylor: Wright just missed the mark last year (952 yards), but he could get over the hump this year. Baylor's receiving corps is deep, but Wright is the best and most experienced of the bunch. He's also the biggest home-run threat.
6. Alex Torres, Texas Tech: Torres was slowed last year by a back injury, but Texas Tech loses its top two receivers from last year's team, and Torres is likely the beneficiary. Worth noting: Keep an eye out for juco transfer Marcus Kennard.
7. Kenny Stills, Oklahoma: Stills broke Broyles' freshman receiving record, but as a sophomore, Broyles became Oklahoma's top target and had his first 1,000-yard season. Unfortunately, for Stills, Broyles is still there. His time is coming, though.
8. Mike Davis, Texas: Davis should be the top target for the Longhorns, but there's no shaking Texas' apparent big questions at quarterback. More than anything, that's what could keep Davis from topping the 1,000-yard mark.
9. Ryan Swope, Texas A&M: Swope is the Aggies' resident slot machine. He should be due for a nice year, but with Fuller and two quality backs soaking up touches, the volume probably isn't there for Swope to rank among the league's elite. He's still a very, very valuable piece to the Aggies offense that made a handful of huge catches last year, especially against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
10. Josh Gordon, Baylor: Gordon and Davis are the least accomplished receivers on this list, but Baylor's second target could be due for a big year as a junior. With a quarterback like Robert Griffin III, getting Gordon the ball won't be the problem.
My prediction: Broyles, Blackmon, Fuller, Moe, Torres
- Junior quarterback Seth Doege threw for 317 yards and four touchdown on 20-of-35 passing. He also had an interception for the only turnover of the day, picked off by Daniel Cobb, who returned it 22 yards.
- Safety D.J. Johnson and linebacker Cqulin Hubert led the team with eight tackles each. Hubert had a sack and led the team with 2.5 tackles for loss. He also broke up a pass.
- Doege's day was highlighted by a pair of long throws. He hooked up with new outside receiver Tramain Swindall for a 55-yard score and hit Alex Torres for a 63-yard gain on Torres' only catch of the day.
- Ben McRoy led the team with 61 yards on seven carries, but likely starter Eric Stephens had 48 yards on seven carries.
- Texas Tech had hoped for 25-30,000 fans, but 12,400 made their way into Jones AT&T Stadium on Saturday. Among them: New athletic director Kirby Hocutt and basketball coach Billy Gillispie.
- As with all these spring games, it doesn't matter much, but the Black team beat the Red team 27-26. It's not out of character for these games, but players switched teams often. Doege, for instance, was 12-of-23 for 231 yards and three scores for the Red team. For the Black team, he was 8-of-12 for 86 yards and a score. Saboteur!
- Doege did everything he could to maintain a stronghold on the starting job over backup Jacob Karam. Coach Tommy Tuberville won't make an official announcement until midway through fall camp, but Doege was receiving the majority of the snaps in practice this spring. It would be very, very surprising if he didn't lock up the job for sure in fall camp. Barring injury, he should finally get his shot next season. "Seth is definitely in front right now,” offensive coordinator Neal Brown told reporters on Saturday. "He’s making better decisions, leading the offense better at this point. Not to a point where he’s the bona fide starter, but there is a difference. Then Jacob and Scotty [Young] are right there duking it out right now to be in that second position and come up and battle Seth."
- Red Raiders fans have to be happy about the contributions from the newcomers. Juco receiver Marcus Kennard enrolled early and caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Doege in the second quarter. True freshman Ronnie Daniels had impressed all spring, and caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Young. Kennard finished with two catches for 32 yards. Daniels finished with 34 yards on 11 carries. The touchdown was his only catch of the day. Another early enrolling freshman, linebacker Blake Dees, had seven tackles and half a tackle for loss.
- The defense still has plenty of work to do, giving up five pass plays of longer than 25 yards, but the Red Raiders are going to be a work in progress on that side of the ball all season. Defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow and Tuberville have been preaching it: It's all about speed for this defense. Part of that comes with recruiting. Part of it comes with making players comfortable with the defense's schemes and playing without thinking. Both of those take time. Glasgow's new scheme puts a heavy emphasis on winning one-on-ones, and the Red Raiders have a lot to prove in showing they can do that consistently in Big 12 play.
"Right now Seth is ahead, but we want to give (Jacob Karam) a chance to throw his name in there. We're not looking for just one quarterback, we're looking for two. We lost both quarterbacks last year. Both of these guys will step up and compete and make each other better." -- Tuberville.
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.
Signees: 27 (four from junior college)
Top prospects: Kenny Williams and Bradley Marquez both ranked among the nation's top 30 running backs and Jace Amaro is one of the nation's top tight ends. Incoming quarterback Michael Brewer was the nation's No. 27 quarterback and could be a factor in the Red Raiders spring quarterback competition.
Needs met: Texas Tech has a lot of depth at running back, but Marquez and Williams could end up being two of the Red Raiders' best backs eventually. The Red Raiders are moving on without running back and longtime starter Baron Batch and also must replace departed receivers Detron Lewis and Lyle Leong. Derek Edwards and LaDarrin Roberts could fill that void in depth behind rising underclassmen, and junior college transfer Marcus Kennard could contribute quickly. Defensive end Cooper Washington switched to the Red Raiders from Oklahoma on signing day and could help provide some elite talent up front to instill the SEC-type defense Tommy Tuberville hopes to bring to Lubbock.
Analysis: Texas Tech is ecstatic with this class, and for good reason. It's one of the best in the Big 12 behind top-tier classes Texas and Oklahoma, and it's one of the best-ranked classes in school history. ESPN ranks it just outside the national top 25, and we could see some elite skill position players emerge from this unit. The big-time defensive signees will be coming in 2012, but for now, offensive coordinator Neal Brown has plenty more young players to help further establish his offense.
ESPN recruiting grade: B-minus
It's perhaps most valuable among quarterbacks -- notable in the case of Florida's Tim Tebow and Baylor's Robert Griffin, to quickly name a couple -- but here's who checked in to campus early and will likely take part in spring practice in a few months.
Keep an eye out for possible future stars among this group.
- Alex Lewis, OL (grayshirt)
- Steele Jantz, QB
- Nebraska has completed its 2011 schedule. Here's a look.
- Here's a look at who Iowa State signed on the junior college early signing day.
- Colorado receiver Scotty McKnight explains what it's like to have a concussion, and how it's affected his career. He's had five or so by his count.
- Injuries have cost Nebraska quarterback Zac Lee playing time this year, but he's ready to go for the Holiday Bowl, reports Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star.
- Don't like the BCS? Neither does Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. He's got a playoff plan with lots of money to back it, and wants to make it happen, reports Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com.
- The coach-in-waiting situation isn't the way to go, writes Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman. Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen will be the coach-in-waiting at West Virginia.
- Texas A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter says he hasn't heard from anyone about other coaching jobs, reports Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News.
- Three Texas A&M defenders' statuses are up in the air for the Cotton Bowl.
- Kansas State is putting extra emphasis on missed tackles in its bowl preparations, writes Kellis Robinett of the Wichita Eagle.
- Gary Pinkel is glad linebacker Andrew Gachkar didn't go unnoticed by the All-Big 12 teams, writes Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune.
- New Oklahoma offensive coordinator Josh Heupel addressed the media for the first time on Tuesday.
- Texas Tech added a receiver on the early signing day for junior college players on Wednesday.
Nebraska has already received commitments from three players, including two selections on the ESPNU 150 watch list. Both of Oklahoma's early commitments made the ESPNU 150 watch list.
The Cornhuskers already have received verbal commitments from two of the nation's top linemen, continuing a tradition that is a bedrock of the Nebraska program. Tyler Moore, a 6-foot-6, 270-pounder from Countryside High School in Clearwater, Fla., is joined by Ryne Reeves, a 6-foot-3, 287-pound center from Crete, Neb. Along with those two on the ESPNU 150 watch list with quarterback Jamal Turner of Sam Houston High School in Arlington, Texas.
And the Sooners have garnered two on the 150 list, including wide receiver Kameel Jackson who is Turner's major receiving target at Sam Houston High School. He is joined by quarterback Kendal Thompson of Southmoore High School in Moore, Okla.
Here's a quick look at what other schools in the conference have gotten an early start (Note: * indicates an ESPNU 150 watch list player):
- Baylor: None.
- Colorado: C Shaun Simon (Hutchinson Community College)
- Iowa State: None.
- Kansas: None.
- Kansas State: OT Cody Whitehair (Abilene, Kan.), DT Olukayode Akinmoladun (Independence Community College), WR Marcus Kennard (Butler County Community College), QB Angelo Pease (Hutchinson Community College), DE Meshak Williams (Hutchinson, Kan.)
- Missouri: *QB Corbin Berkstresser (Lee Summit, Mo.); WR Wesley Leftwich (Hickman, Mo.); ATH Anthony Pierson (Gateway, Mo.), DT Sheldon Richardson (College of the Sequoias).
- Nebraska: *OT Tyler Moore (Clearwater, Fla.), *C Ryne Reeves (Crete, Neb.), QB Jamal Turner (Arlington, Texas).
- Oklahoma: *WR Kameel Jackson (Arlington, Texas), *QB Kendal Thompson (Moore, Okla.)
- Oklahoma State: *QB J.W. Walsh (Denton, Texas), T Travis Cross (Plano, Texas), S Isaac Maselera (Glenpool, Okla.)
- Texas: None.
- Texas A&M: *T Joseph Creek (Seguin, Texas).
- Texas Tech: *WR Javares McRoy (Lakeland, Fla.)