You're in Bad Hands: This was far and away the worst spring practice for dropped balls. Indeed, it was one of the worst I've ever seen at a Tech football practice. The very first activity I saw was Kenny Williams dropping a ball in a drill, and things got worse from there. Aaron Fisher had numerous drops. So did Jace Amaro. Javares McRoy dropped one. So did Javon Bell. And Derek Edwards dropped a couple.
The bright side is that quarterbacks Seth Doege and Michael Brewer were extremely accurate. Inaccurate passes were very scarce, and I don't recall a single interception. If the receivers had held up their end of the bargain the offense would have had a monster day. As it was the offense merely had a very good day.
Coming back to Earth: For the first time this spring Tech's defensive backs actually looked pedestrian. The extremely tight coverage and sound assignment football that had typified this group was not in evidence on Tuesday.
Eugene Neboh's concussed absence was part of the problem. But Neboh's problems shouldn't have caused Jarvis Phillips and Cornelius Douglas to get burned like a soufflé at McDonald's, yet that's exactly what happened. Phillips and Douglas were acceptably good on the short to intermediate stuff, but were repeatedly broiled on deep sideline routes and slants. And there was no safety help to bail them out.
Marcus Kennard was back in pads but went through conditioning exercises only.
Michael Brewer ran a bona fide quarterback draw against the scout team. This is a play I'd like to see become a more prominent part of the Tech arsenal.
Misdirection and Motion: It appears there's much more stuff going on in the Red Raider offensive backfield than in the past. Backs are crossing at the snap of the ball in the two-back set. They're frequently going in motion. End arounds are common. I once saw Kenny Williams motion from the backfield and reset as an outside receiver. Perhaps this offense will be more multiple than it was last season.
Tyson Williams and Bradley Marquez were probably the most impressive receivers on the field Tuesday. Marquez got deep repeatedly while Williams showed very good hands on a couple of occasions.
Kick Returners: It appears the candidates for kick return duties are Marquez, Jakeem Grant, Javon Bell, SaDale Foster and Javares McRoy.
Le'Ravin Clark once again had severe problems attempting to block Dartwan Bush. Clark may have done a bit better than he did in the scrimmage, but only slightly.
Line Drills Report: Terry McDaniel looked good against Kerry Hyder. Tony Morlales locked up Donte Phillips. James Polk handled Delvon Simmons. Lee Adams threw punches at Jared Kaster who returned the favor next rep. And Branden Jackson—who had his best practice of the spring--discarded Matt Wilson.
Simmons, incidentally, looks like he's still got a ways to go. He gets tossed around too much and spends too much time on the ground.
D. J. Johnson absolutely knocked the fire out of Javon Bell on a slant route in skeleton drills. To Bell's tremendous credit though, he hung onto the ball.
Omar Ontiveros got a great deal of reps. Perhaps the fullback will figure more prominently in the Tech offense in 2012.
Lee Adams suffered a concussion late in practice. He was out on his feet as trainers helped him to the sideline.
Money Quotes from Coach Tubs:
We're missing Beau Carpenter. He got in a slight fender-bender today, got hit and sprained his neck a little bit. He's fine. He'll be back tomorrow they said, hopefully. We're strugglin' still at the center position, with our second team center. We're goin' back with [Jared] Kaster, Tony Morales. Gallington's getting a lot better. We're more physical. You gotta remember now in spring practice you've got so many combinations of guys in the game practicin', sometimes the timing's off. We've gotten a little bit better at the offensive line in terms of assignment. It seems like we're makin' a lot of mistakes. Like Saturday we had like seven or eight illegal procedure penalties. You can't have that in a game but, you know, hopefully we'll get those out of the way this spring.
You know he [Omar Ontiveros] is a good blocker. I like what he's done with his strength in the weight room. He's gotten a lot stronger. He missed a couple of blocks last year that really affected us but, you know, it was his first year too. We're gonna play him some at a small tight end position. We'll put him in the backfield. We'll move him around. He can catch the ball too so I think he'll play a little bit bigger role than he did last year.
Well this is a big year for him [LaAdrian Waddle]. It's a money year. He's got all the hype. He's got the athletic ability to do well after college. And he's picked up his leadership role. I think Chris Thomsen, our new offensive line coach has asked a lot more of him, which I think he's given. Sometimes a big guy like that doesn't look like he's goin' full speed, but he's so big that he just overwhelms the guy in front of him. But he's had a good spring thus far. As I told him, he's got to take advantage of every practice to get better. He's gotta become more physical, and he's sometimes a little late off the ball in pass protection. And he's worked a lot on that in the spring. And he's got a lot of potential. He had a pretty good year last year but I expect him to be much better.
Our offense is behind the defense right now. But that's to be expected when you're playing so many new guys. We don't have a first team offense, we're movin' guards around, we're movin' tackles around, you've got a true freshman offensive right tackle. All the receivers go in the first and second group.
It's hard to get any kind of a rhythm when you're playing all these new receivers who probably won't play a big role in the fall. We'll cut it down to two deep. I've liked the way they've competed, but they haven't executed that well. We haven't scored that many touchdowns on drives. That's been a little concerning.
We moved Will Smith to inside now. Chris Payne being out. He hadn't had too many practices because he hurt his knee, but he's looked real good in the last couple of practices. He's makin' plays in space. Little bit disappointed with Daniel Cobb, how he's played. He's got more experience but just hasn't played up to his potential. It's not from his ability it's just his mental ability. He's gotta get better. Blake Dees has improved. I think he's gonna help us next fall. It's been good to watch these linebackers play different positions, move around. I think in the last five practices Coach Kaufman is gonna get ‘em all in one position and leave ‘em. Which probably, I think, will help ‘em.
The thing about Will [Smith] is he's such a good tackler. He can run inside out well. He made plays all over the field Saturday. I think the big thing for him and our defense is we've got to get him on the field and keep him on the field. If you play him at an outside linebacker position there's gonna be some games where you might not get 20 snaps because a defensive back is gonna take your spot. After watching our first eight practices and two scrimmages there's no doubt he's gonna be one of our better linebackers maybe the best in terms of just communicatin', understanding what's goin' on, and playing with confidence. He's worked his way into a pretty hefty role for Texas Tech goin' into the fall. We really like what he's done the first eight practices, and your middle linebacker's your quarterback. Obviously, he's got a lot of football sense.
I'd say defense probably right now a low B, offense probably a C.
Jace Amaro I think's probably made more improvement than anybody on offense just because he's gotten a lot of snaps.