What to Watch for in the Petro-Scrimmage

A look at which players and position battles to keep an eye on Saturday in Midland. The scrimmage is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Of course the party will begin much sooner as tailgating is encouraged, plus other activities return such as the Kids Zone. Everything is free.

Given the cloak of secrecy
that surrounds Texas Tech football like an MGB phalanx guarding the Soviet atomic program in the late 40s, when one gets the rare opportunity to watch the Red Raiders in action, it is best to take advantage.

Such an opportunity presents itself this Saturday when the Tech gridders sojourn to lovely Midland for a practice at 1 p.m. At this point, the event has been billed merely an "open practice," but coach Kliff Kingsbury said Tuesday the team will scrimmage for about 100 plays.

Those series will be valuable for those trying to get a handle on how the team is shaping up. Below are a few elements that observers might want to pay extra close attention to throughout practice, but especially when scrimmage conditions prevail.

Backup Quarterbacks
True freshman Patrick Mahomes will probably be in Lubbock this summer, but with MLB scouts projecting him as a high draft pick, nothing is for certain. That being the case, it is rather important that Kliff Kingsbury and staff develop a competent backup for Davis Webb. The primary contenders for that role are Tanner Tausch, who has been running with the two's this spring and Mike Richardson. If either of those players demonstrate some mastery of the offense, and don't throw interceptions on a regular basis, it would go some way toward alleviating concern about the quarterback position.

Running Back Development
With former starter Kenny Williams putatively plying his trade on the defensive side these days, we will want to see if Deandre Washington and Quinton White have made significant strides. Pay particular attention to White's pass blocking skills, which Kingsbury recently said has improved significantly. There has never been too much doubt about his ability to tote the rock, but pass protection was apparently what kept him on the pine last season. Kingsbury may not have the luxury of sitting White in 2014.

The Fourth Wheel
In Reggie Davis, Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez, Tech can feel pretty darn good about three quarters of its starting receiver corps. That leaves one spot still a mystery, and the solution may well be JUCO transfer Devin Lauderdale. He is number six, and will line up on the outside. If Lauderdale makes plays and blocks, and doesn't drop passes, Tech's receivers could be on the way to Special-Land in 2014. Lauderdale is a burner with lots of shake and bake, so keep an eye out for fades, goes, and runs after the catch as well.

Anybody Outside of Branden Jackson Showing Up on D-Line?
We know help on the defensive line will arrive in August, but in the meantime, the Red Raiders are very short of proven performers in that unit. If guys like Jackson Richards, Donte Phillips, Keland McElrath, Demetrious Alston, Bennett Ofor and Anthony Smith are not getting blown off the ball, it will be a very good sign that depth may not be too much of an issue on the defensive line in 2014. And if depth there is an issue, your defense really doesn't stand much of a chance of stopping anybody.

Position Changes
The spring is often the time for experimentation in college football. Kenny Williams as an outside linebacker is a case in point. So definitely look for guys lining up in places you didn't expect.

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