Notebook: February 25th Scrimmage

Joe Yeager was in attendance and took notes at the Spring's first scrimmage for Red Raider Football. Here are some notes and bits of info from scrimmage No. 1.

Starting Lineups: Defense—Branden Jackson, Kerry Hyder, Dennell Wesley, Kindred Evans, Pete Robertson, Sam Eguavoen, Daniel Cobb, Cornelius Douglas, D. J. Johnson, Cody Davis, Eugene Neboh


Offense—Darrin Moore, Jakeem Grant, Jace Amaro, Derek Edwards, Kenny Williams, Beau Carpenter, Terry McDaniel, Le'Ravin Clark, LaAdrian Waddle, Deveric Gallington


There are some surprises here. Particularly on defense. I was surprised not to see Leon Mackey, and especially Dartwan Bush in the starting lineup. Likewise with Blake Dees and Will Smith.


But it speaks well to Tech's depth at defensive end and linebacker that Art Kaufman and Tommy Tuberville believe Jackson, Evans, Robertson and Eguavoen are better options than the talented second-teamers at this particular moment. Still, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see a very different starting lineup for the next scrimmage.


Decimated Receiving Corps: Heck, the Red Raiders barely have a receiving corps at this point. Out with injury were Alex Torres, Marcus Kennard, Eric Ward, Austin Zouzalik, and Javon Bell. Consider furthermore, that Bradley Marquez, Cornelius Douglas and Shawn Corker are playing elsewhere than receiver, and this crew is razor thin on depth.


It is also very short of talent. Without Kennard, Ward and Bell, the Red Raiders have very little dynamism at outside receiver and it showed. Part of the excellent spring Cornelius Douglas and Eugene Neboh are having stems from the fact that they are not going up against Tech's best.


Defense Impressing: Granted, Tech's defense is not seeing the Red Raider offense at full strength. And granted it's far too early to make any definitive judgments. Still, you have to like what you're seeing from Kaufman's defense.


The Tech defense has stuffed the offense two workouts in a row, and one of them a scrimmage. It's been a while since that's happened.


At root, this defense just looks far more fundamentally sound than what we've seen the last couple of years. Receivers are not running scot free through the secondary with nobody in their area code. The front seven is not getting plowed under like so much sod. And defenders are not tackling like the San Francisco Ballet.


This defense probably does not yet have the talent to dominate, but if it can play Big 12 opponents as well as it's playing the Tech offense, it will be good enough.


Finding Foster: Running back SaDale Foster had tongues a-wagging a bit. This lightly regarded JUCO recruit, who was expected to be primarily a return man, was Tech's most effective runner in the scrimmage. He also looked comfortable catching the ball out of the backfield. Foster struggled some in pass protection, but that's to be expected.


All in all, though, Foster could be a real find, and a key figure if Eric Stephens and DeAndre Washington do not return to full strength this season. And ironically, Foster would not have gotten the chance to strut his stuff had Bradley Marquez not been held out with an injury.


Multiplicity: In his post-scrimmage comments Tommy Tuberville said that only 30 to 40 percent of the defensive package has been installed to this point. That is both surprising and impressive because the defense showed a good many looks and fronts, particularly early in the scrimmage. It was not uncommon to see six players on the line and one linebacker covering the slot. The defense showed blitz and backed out frequently. And although the defense didn't blitz much, they were very effective when they did.


Money Quotes from Coach Tubs:


Defensively we're a little bit ahead of where I thought we'd be. We looked a lot better than I would have expected running a lot of different fronts.


Offensively SaDale Foster kind of showed out a little today. Made a couple of plays.


The speed of the game got our offensive line a little bit. Our defensive line looks much better than what it did even at the end of last year.


[Ryan] Bustin, our kicker, had a good day. I thought Ryan Erxleban, he's really improved.


Will Smith, he obviously showed up. And we knew he was gonna make a huge impact early. If he can just continue to learn. He's gotta get stronger. I tell you, he's gonna be a good leader for us too.


I was impressed defensively with how we played our zone and man coverages, which is pretty impressive for the first scrimmage.


We didn't blitz any after the first 10 plays. We went 10 plays of blitz, five on the first team offense and five the second team offense, and we didn't blitz much the rest of the day. We might have had a couple sprinkled in there but we wanted to see guys play technique. It was about communication, getting their stance and alignment, and then playin'. And hopefully we had a little technique mixed up in there somewhere, but it was good.


I tell you, our man coverage looked, you can tell just from watching whether your man coverage was pretty good. We played receivers very close. We were able to knock down a lot of balls. I thought defensively that was probably one of the better things we did.


We were the worst [defense] in the country last year, and we can't go anywhere but up. But we'll go way up. I like the temperament of our defense. They were embarrassed last year and it wasn't their fault. We weren't able to stop the run. So we've been really focusing on playing run technique with our defensive front and linebackers the first five days.


He [Seth Doege] has a lot more speed on the ball. It looks like he's got a tighter spiral. But he's into it. He's into it every day.


Michael Brewer, number one, he competes, he listens, he learns. He absorbs everything that goes on in practice. He watches a lot of film on his own. The players respect him. He's got a huge, huge chance to be a real good football player, and a real good quarterback in this league if he continues to get stronger. That's his whole key.


We'll probably have a package for him [Michael Brewer] every game. You know, running it, play action. He's a guy that can get out of the pocket now and put pressure on the defense.


I saw a lot of balls knocked down on the outside by corners, but I couldn't even tell who they were. I was watching more defensive linemen and linebackers. The thing I think everybody recognized is that we were a lot closer to receivers in most situations than we have been in the past. We were able to break on the ball, knock the ball down. I think it looked like we challenged receivers a lot more, which is good.

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