Defense is More Sound: I'm always hesitant to draw too decisive conclusions from watching football camps, but dadgummit, Texas Tech's defense really did look much better this spring.
And the improvement did not seem rooted in the usual suspects. Hence, the defense did not apply overwhelming pressure on the quarterbacks and it did not generate a gaudy number of turnovers.
No, the defense was more effective because it was balanced and aligned. The players were where they were supposed to be. Consequently, there were few bungled assignments that led to explosive plays. More to the point, whenever an offensive player had the ball in the open field, there was usually a defender right there with him to shut down the play before it broke big.
We will have to wait until the defense takes the field against a Big 12 offense before we know for sure, but at this point it looks like Art Kaufman and his staff are effectively teaching the defense to the players.
It Will Be the Willy and Corny Show: As great a job as Kaufman and company appear to be doing, not all credit should go to the coaches. The defensive players have also had a little something to do with the defense's success. Specifically, cornerback Cornelius Douglas and middle linebacker Will Smith are making a world of difference.
After transferring from receiver, Douglas has adapted so naturally to the cornerback position one wonders where he'd be right now if he'd been recruited as a cornerback. Probably the NFL.
And Smith is Kaufman's coach on the field. He's a football sponge who has immediately made the defense much better because of his knowledge of the game and his confidence.
Put these two together and you've soldered the back seven of the defense together pretty well. Douglas' excellence in man coverage means that Kaufman will be able to bring pressure secure in the knowledge that the secondary won't get burned. And Smith's prowess in the middle means that offenses will have to earn their touchdowns through long drives rather than by gashing the Tech defense with 20- and 30-yard runs.
Passing Game Will Be in Good Hands: It's unlikely that an All American wideout will emerge from the current Tech roster, but the absence of a Welktree won't be a problem. Tech's receivers, even without Eric Ward and Alex Torres, put on a pretty good show this spring.
Bradley Marquez is a bona fide receiver and he needs to stay put at the position. Jakeem Grant will be a rude shock to defenses with his flabbergasting acceleration. When healthy, Marcus Kennard and Javon Bell are capable of providing big plays. And Neal Brown consistently raved about Derek Edwards and Darrin Moore. Assuming tight end Jace Amaro is cleared to play in 2012, this is a doggone salty group, and not the least because they don't drop passes.
If Seth Doege has an All Big 12 senior year, you can bet much of his success will be because of his receivers.