Spring Football Midterm Report Card

Halfway through spring practice, Joe Yeager hands out his grades and some positions are in need of some improvement.

On the whole, the first half of Texas Tech's spring football camp must be counted a success. With the exception of Eric Ward and Marcus Kennard, injuries have not been a problem. And more important, the defense, insofar as we can judge, gives the impression of being improved considerably. Below is a semi-detailed look at each position grouping along with grades.


Quarterbacks: Seth Doege and Michael Brewer have been competent, but nothing more. Doege, as befits the more experienced, more confident quarterback, plays a higher risk, higher reward game. He squeezes the ball into coverage and makes difficult throws. Sometimes this results in big plays, sometimes interceptions.


Brewer is more cautious to this point. And he doesn't put as much smoke on the pigskin as Doege. But for a redshirt freshman, he is playing well.


Grade: C+


Running Backs: Without Eric Stephens and DeAndre Washington in the fold, Tech's backs are more thunder and less lighting. They are pounders who get tough yardage, but are unlikely to break 60-yard runs.


Generally speaking, Ronnie Daniels has been Tech's best back. He catches the ball somewhat better than Kenny Williams and has more wiggle in the open field. But both have had their moments. SaDale Foster was very good in the first scrimmage but has since disappeared.


Grade: B-


Receivers: Because of injury, the unit we've seen in spring bears little resemblance to the one we'll see in the fall. Even with the attrition, though, this group has done some good things.


Jakeem Grant is a firefly who can make things happen. Despite occasional dropped passes, Jace Amaro looks like the weapon people expected him to be. Tyson Williams has served notice he is more than a fullback in a wideout's jersey. And Bradley Marquez has been the best receiver on the field.


On the other hand, there have been too many dropped passes, and Darrin Moore has struggled against Cornelius Douglas.


Grade: B-


Offensive Line: This group has had some problems. False starts and other penalties have been superabundant. Center snaps from Deveric Gallington and Tony Morales have been errant far too often. And starting right tackle Le'Ravin Clark is not yet ready to face Big 12 defensive ends.


Positives have been the play of backup left guard Alfredo Morales who is a real mauler, and left tackle LaAdrian Waddle who silences his opponent despite playing with a leg muscle injury.


Grade: C-


Defensive Line: This unit is still far from dominant, but it is improved. Dartwan Bush is easily the best pass rusher on the team, and looks to be capable of double-digit sacks in 2012. Dennell Wesley looks like he'll be able to compete this season; he was outmanned last season. JUCO transfer Lee Adams will contribute. And Jackson Richards and Branden Jackson should serve as capable bookends for Bush.


Less impressive have been Delvon Simmons and Kindred Evans who need to get stronger, and Leon Mackey and Kerry Hyder who need to make more plays.


Grade: B-


Linebackers: There is real hope that what has been the team's Achilles Heel, will soon become the hammer of Thor. JUCO transfer Will Smith has gotten most of the press, but there are other positive stories as well.


Sam Eguavoen is developing into a linebacker who has the range to make plays all over the field and in the passing game. Justin Cooper and Blake Dees look like potential hole pluggers. And Chris Payne plays more physically than his measurements would suggest.


If Smith can coordinate this group on the field as well as Tommy Tuberville thinks he can, the linebackers will bind the defense into a sound, cohesive unit.


Grade: B+


Secondary: Led by the cornerbacks, the defensive backfield has been Tech's star attraction so far this spring.


The physical, businesslike Cornelius Douglas has arguably been the team's MVP to this point. He may be the shut-down cornerback you must have to be successful on defense in the Big 12.


Eugene Neboh, with less fanfare, has been almost as good as Douglas on the other side of the field. Tre' Porter, Jarvis Phillips and newcomer Thierry Nguema have all performed well, adding excellent depth to the apparent talent of the starters.


The safeties have been less spectacular, but have for the most part been up to the job. Cody Davis is his usual solid self, and has been good against the run. D. J. Johnson makes spectacular plays, but also makes mistakes. J. J. Gaines is quickly developing into an ace backup. Austin Stewart is very much a work. Whether he's in progress remains to be seen.


As a unit this group must do a better job closing down deep and intermediate slant routes.


Grade: A-



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