Friday, March 22, 2013
Breaking down spring camp: Texas Tech
By David Ubben
Texas Tech is the latest Big 12 team to kick off spring practice later today. Let's take a closer look.
Schedule: The first of Texas Tech's 15 NCAA-allowed spring practices begins today. They will conclude with a spring game on April 20. Between now and then, just two practices will be open: April 6 (in Midland, Texas) and April 12.
What's new: Pretty much everything. Tech does return 13 starters from last season's eight-win team, tied for fourth-most in the Big 12. Beyond that, though, it's a whole new ballgame on the sidelines. More on that later.
New faces: Besides the coaches, Texas Tech is welcoming a new quarterback to the practice field this spring: Davis Webb. The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder is the nation's No. 24 pocket passer.
All eyes on: Kliff Kingsbury and his new staff. He's added six alums to the Red Raiders' sidelines. Kingsbury will be calling the plays for the Red Raiders. He handed the keys to his defense over to Matt Wallerstedt, who followed him over from Texas A&M. How will the 33-year-old Kingsbury run the program? As a program legend, he has the support of the city, and he'll have to learn on the job as a first-time head coach, the youngest among AQ conference teams. He inherited a talented team capable of making some noise immediately, but he'll have to take them there. That journey begins today.
Breaking out: Big 12 blog readers voted quarterback Michael Brewer the breakout player of the spring across the league. He's my pick, too. Kingsbury's not handing the sophomore the job right out of the gate, but it doesn't look like he has a ton of competition. The 6-foot-1, 183-pound native of Austin, Texas, hails from the same powerhouse Lake Travis program as Garrett Gilbert. Brewer lost just one game in high school, helping his coach, Chad Morris, take his first steps to being a major conference offensive coordinator. He's now at Clemson.
Question marks: I've written about the safeties a lot this spring, but the Red Raiders have a lot of work to do in replacing starters Cody Davis and D.J. Johnson. New position coach Trey Haverty has his work cut out for him, and any weakness in this area come fall will be exposed quickly.
On the mend: Tight end Jace Amaro. He became something of an afterthought during Big 12 play last season sue to a rib injury, but he's the cure for what has ailed the Big 12's tight ends these past couple of seasons. The position has been really, really weak, but if he's healthy, Amaro is the league's best at the spot. He had a forgettable night in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, catching two passes for 15 yards and getting ejected after throwing a punch. But shortly after taking the job, Kingsbury was already talking about how Amaro pops off game tape.
Don't forget about: Wide receiver Eric Ward. He's one of the Big 12's most underrated players, and all he's done in his career is lead Tech in receiving in each of the past two seasons and became the first Tech receiver to top 1,000 yards receiving and return to campus since Michael Crabtree in 2007. Ward's a big-time player in the passing game who doesn't get enough respect across the conference. Among returning players, only Oklahoma State's Josh Stewart had more receiving yards.