1. The strongest overall impression of this scrimmage was its physicality. Matters actually got off to a fairly slow and humdrum start, but as the scrimmage wore on, it really got more physical. Usually, it is the other way around.
But in the final 50 or so final plays, offensive linemen were pancaking and body-slamming, and safeties and linebackers were crunching and punishing. Given the old axiom of football that the more physical team usually wins, this aspect of the scrimmage bodes well for the Red Raiders.
Among the players who stood out as particularly brutal were offensive linemen Le'Raven Clark and Joey White (a center who has transferred from Sam Houston State), safety Keenon Ward and defensive tackle Donte Phillips.
2. The starting lineup on offense was as follows: Alfredo Morales, Le'Raven Clark, Tony Morales, Rashad Fortenberry, Baylen Brown, Bradley Marquez, Dylan Cantrell, D. J. Polite-Bray, Davis Webb, Deandre Washington and Rodney Hall.
It's good to see the brothers Morales on the field at the same time. I'm not sure anybody remembers the last time that happened, and it will be interesting to see whether Tony Morales can unseat Jared Kaster as the starting center when the latter returns from a banged up shoulder.
Cantrell as a starter may be a bit of a surprise, but Kliff Kingsbury really likes his hands and his attitude. (The coach said that he moved Cantrell outside only recently and that the sophomore from Whitehouse, Texas accepted the move selflessly.)
Polite-Bray in the lineup also may surprise, but keep in mind that Derreck Edwards was out with headaches and Devin Lauderdale is dealing with a staph infection. That said, Polite-Bray gouged the Red Raider secondary, and that's putting it politely. It looks like he could be a real weapon this season. Davis Webb raved about his speed.
But Rodney Hall starting in a two-back set was the biggest surprise of all. Hall, whose coming out party was the victory over Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl, brings physicality to Tech's backfield that otherwise would have been lost when Kenny Williams moved to outside linebacker. Kingsbury likes Hall as a blocker and says he also trusts him running with the rock.
In the scrimmage, the Red Raiders ran the ball right up the gut very often—to the outside, not so much—so Kingsbury may well be trying to establish a tougher, more physical ground game to go along with his deadly passing attack.
3. As best as I could tell, the following players started on defense: Demetrious Alston, Zach Barnes, Thierry Nguema, Justis Nelson, Pete Robertson, Keenon Ward, Kenny Williams, Donte Phillips, V. J. Fehoko, J. J. Gaines. Micah Awe may also have started. I'm not sure about Branden Jackson. I did see him out of pads later in the scrimmage, but he may have played and gotten dinged. I'm pretty sure Sam Eguavoen was also in pads, but I don't recall seeing him on the field.
At any rate, Donte Phillips looked good. Thierry Nguema had his problems. Kenny Williams was hit-and-miss (literally) at his new position, but looks good enough to help out.
4. Tech ran more screens—and not all of them bubble screens by any stretch—than I've ever seen from the Red Raiders. The defense seemed ready for them most of the time. Other defenses may not be so ready.
5. The only quarterbacks who played were Davis Webb and Tanner Tausch. That would seem to suggest that Kingsbury is putting all of his eggs in Tausch's basket—hey, Easter's right around the corner—as the No. 2 quarterback, at least until Patrick Mahomes arrives. Tausch was competent enough, but obviously still has a ways to go. He doesn't have the most powerful arm, but his ball security was pretty good, and Kingsbury noted that fact after the scrimmage.
6. There were no turnovers in the scrimmage. That could be a good or a bad thing.
Midland Scrimmage Impressions and Tidbits
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