Q: Is Darrin Moore playing/starting in the season opener?
A: We have not heard anything re: D.Moore, Williams, or Amaro, so until there is a statement made about their status on the team, I am going to operate under the assumption (I know) that they are expected to play in accordance to their position on the depth chart.
Also, I would say this. You don't move Marquez to X from Z if you anticipate a long absence from Moore.
Q: What areas should fans most closely watch in the season opener to get an idea of how this season may play out?
A: I'm taking the first 3 games as kind of one total audition. With all of the turnover and the emotional toll of last year, it's easy to forget that Art Kaufman and company haven't actually coached a game yet, so let's see what kind of adjustments they make in-game and week-to-week. Keep this phrase in mind. Reasonable marked improvement. There will be some bugs to work out. But if you're doing a lot of things right (see below), then you have to take the occasional busted coverage/ big play with the peace that this thing is moving in the right direction.
In the first game, I'd watch these 3 things on defense: QB pressures: Who's getting to the QB. You forced a total of 19 turnovers last year and only 5 interceptions. The pass rush gets better, this number goes up. Also, if you want to get the rush yards down, sack the QB. These yards count for minus rushing yards. 3rd down conversions %: Tech allowed almost 48% of 3rd downs to be converted last year. Enough said. Rushing yards allowed: Last year, the defense gave up 250+ to Texas St, and over 300 to Nevada. This number needs to be under 150, especially against Texas St.
Q: How many carries and/or touches does Stephens get in the opener. Can we look for him to get the ball more as the season goes on?
A: According to Tuberville during Monday's Big 12 Teleconference he said we would probably see Stephens on 10-15 snaps in the game on Saturday, if he doesn't start in the game, he will be worked into the game early on. As the season goes on Stephens will get more and more carries until he is back to full speed at game time.
Q: Is D. Washington redshirting or are they just bringing him along slower than Stephens?
A: Per Neal Brown, the starting job was between Eric Stephens and Kenny Williams, with Sadale Foster in the mix as a change or pace-type back. He said Stephens is ahead of Washington in the rehab because Stephens "pre-habbed" the injury before undergoing surgery. The pre-hab appears to be paying dividends.
IMO, it wouldn't be a bad move to redshirt Washington if you could. Q. White's injury may not allow that, but with Williams, Stephens and Foster, there aren't many other carries to go around.
Q: Javon Bell has been getting excellent reviews as of late. Do you see him being a legitimate playmaker this year?
A: Javon Bell will be a huge contributor this season he joins Darrin Moore at the Z wide receiver position, and there is no doubt, from what we have seen in fall camp that he will be a key to the Texas Tech offense, he is fast, big and strong. He is a lot like Darrin Moore in a lot of ways and will be fun to watch develop this season.
Q: How will the passing game change to be more verticle to use our speed?
A: The passing game will become more vertical to the extent Tech has Javon Bell and a healthy Darrin Moore in the fold. We got some inkling of this early last season when Moore was healthy. Doege threw the fade to him with great success. Now that Moore is back, look for that facet of the playbook to revive.
Bell will be Tech's man coverage-breaker. He's simply too quick and fast for 90% of college corners to handle one-on-one. So if and when teams try to man Bell up, look for Doege to throw the fly his way.
This duo should prove devastating.
Q: What is our biggest strength and our biggest weakness on defense, and how will we try to play to the strength and away from the weakness?
A: This is a straightforward but difficult question. Truthfully, there is no single area on defense that stands out as the strength. There really is parity between the linebackers, corners, safeties, defensive ends, and even tackles. That said, given the apparent absence of Lee Adams and Anthony Smith's continuing recovery from the scooter incident injury, I'd have to rate the tackles as the greatest source of concern. I really like Kerry Hyder's athleticism and think he may surprise. I also believe Delvon Simmons, Michael Starts and especially Leon Mackey, can get the job done. But any injuries here create instant problems.
But DT is a weakness only in the event of injury. I don't think Art Kaufman has any reason to "hide" his DTs or to compensate for ostensible lack of ability.
Q: Given the disappointment of the last two seasons, and the divide in the fanbase, do you think the coaches will "run up the score" in the non-con games as a way to generate some much needed excitement? If not... can we make them do it?
A: Running up the score doesn't strike me as Tubs' way of doing things. And besides, would the fan base really get excited because Tech hung 77 on Northwestern State? Hang 77 on OU and you'll generate some excitement.