A Shifting of Gears: The Red Raiders are no longer battling one another with almighty intensity for positions on the depth chart. Instead, focus has shifted, by and large, to game preparation for the season opener on September 1. Concomitantly, workouts are more businesslike, less spirited and arguably less interesting.
For what it's worth, the scout team offense ran a great deal of zone read, so expect that play-set to be a major part of Northwestern State's offense.
Glut on the Outside: Neal Brown has a cavalcade of potential stars at the X and Z receiver positions. The big five are Eric Ward, Darrin Moore, Javon Bell, Marcus Kennard and Bradley Marquez. I doubt any other program in the nation has talent of this caliber at the outside receiver spots. And just to show how good this group really is, I believe all five of those receivers possess more talent than all of Tech's inside receivers with the possible exception of Jace Amaro. And Tech has some fine inside receivers!
The Dropsy Twins: You can bank on Kenny Williams and Jace Amaro each dropping a pass in every single practice. Thursday's workout was no exception. Not that Williams and Amaro are poor receivers. They obviously are not. But they will drop an easy one now and again.
Keenan on the Fence: Offensive line coach Chris Thomsen spent significant time teaching freshman right tackle Trey Keenan the fine art of using his hands inside the frame of a defender. Because of Tech's razor thin depth at tackle, it is important that the coaching staff develops Keenan quickly. Neal Brown wants very much to redshirt Keenan, who at 280 pounds is a bit light in the britches, but he cannot afford not to have Keenan ready to play if called upon.
Mays Improves: The jury is obviously still out on whether or not Tech would be in good shape with Derrick Mays on the field at cornerback. In all honesty, his past live-game performances have not been particularly reassuring on that score. Having said that, Mays is having a decent fall camp, and looks far more competent than ever before. Tommy Tuberville has lauded John Lovett's ability to teach technique to cornerbacks, and that ability may be telling with Mays.
Tenacious D: One of the tougher players on the team is redshirt freshman cornerback Jeremy Reynolds. At five-foot-nine and 175 pounds, he sometimes appears overmatched against Tech's hulking, physical receivers, but there's absolutely no quit in him, and he's certainly not intimidated. In one-on-one drills he matched up with Eric Ward and negated what appeared to be a certain reception by raking the ball loose just before Ward hit the ground.
The Secret Weapon: Inside receiver Alex Torres probably has the best hands on the roster, but a close second may be defensive tackle Kerry Hyder. (No kidding.) Several practices ago he recorded an astounding interception of a Seth Doege pass at the line of scrimmage. Hyder looked like Ozzie Smith fielding a hot smash from Dave Winfield. Today Hyder showed that was no fluke, when, on a botched field goal attempt, he broke downfield and made a diving goal line grab of a slightly overthrown ball. I kid thee not when I suggest that Tech's coaches may want to look at Hyder for some trickeration during the season.