Texas Tech concluded the public portion of its 2012 spring camp Saturday with the annual Red/Black Scrimmage. And frankly, the scrimmage couldn't have gone much better if Tommy Tuberville had written the script.
Everybody had something to at least smirk about in this one.
Neal Brown was thrilled with the performance of backup quarterback Michael Brewer. The redshirt freshman's showing went a fair distance toward convincing Brown that Brewer can take over effectively should Seth Doege suffer an injury.
Art Kaufman continued to see good things from budding stars Cornelius Douglas and Will Smith, and defensive end Dartwan Bush gave indication of joining the constellation.
And Tuberville was surely pleased with the punting of Ryan Erxleben as well as the kicking of Ryan Bustin.
But of course, there's much more to a football game than the points noted above. How well did the Red Raiders do in other key areas? Let's take a look.
Did Defense Limit Explosive Plays? The answer here is a rather definitive yes. Cornelius Douglas, who looks almost too good to be true, played a practically perfect game. He committed a pass interference penalty against Bradley Marquez, and was beaten for moderate gains a couple of more times by Marquez, but almost completely shut down Darrin Moore. Douglas made at least three textbook plays on balls deep downfield. He went a long way toward limiting the explosive plays.
At the other corner position Eugene Neboh was almost Douglas' equal. You just didn't here much from the receivers he covered.
The defense also did a good job of holding the running game reasonably in check, although SaDale Foster looked dangerous and broke off a few nice runs.
Exceptions were the lightning touchdown drive Michael Brewer authored early in the second half, almost all of which came at Derrick Mays' expense, and Javon Bell's 60-yard tunnel screen.
Did the Offensive Line Play Soundly? The answer here is a fairly definitive no, although the o-line did play better as the scrimmage progressed. But early on, the offensive line was a mess.
As has been par for the course this spring, the line committed numerous penalties in the early going, mostly false starts with a few holds sprinkled in. And pass protection was borderline atrocious as the defense torched the tackles and bowled over the interior. Bottom line, the offensive line was outmuscled and outquicked for much of the afternoon.
Did Defensive Front Seven Show Stamina? The answer here is a rather surprised yes. As long as the first and second team defenses were in the game (until well into the fourth quarter, in other words), the front seven showed little sign of sagging. Despite being quite a bit smaller than the offensive line, and allegedly lacking in quality depth, this group more than held its own.
Part of the reason for the front seven's quality play was the move of Leon Mackey from defensive end to defensive tackle. He not only adds depth inside, but elevates the talent level as well.
In addition to Mackey's welcome presence, Delvon Simmons had possibly his best practice as a Red Raider, Dartwan Bush was a ubiquitous menace, Brandon Jackson was a threat, Will Smith was an elite player, and Sam Egauvoen, Blake Dees, Pete Robertson and Justin Cooper all made nice plays.
Depth in the front seven now actually looks reasonably good.