Friday Night Lights

Texas Tech will hold its second of three spring scrimmages open to the public 8 p.m. Friday. breaks down what to watch for and which position battles to keep an eye on.

The second of three opportunities to view the Texas Tech football team in action presents itself 8 p.m. Friday when Kliff Kingsbury's crew takes the Jones Stadium turf.

If this scrimmage is anything like what transpired in Midland last Saturday, it will be a rock ‘em, sock ‘em affair for the whole family. But aside from that generality, here are a few things astute Tech football fans should keep an eye out for.

In the Petro Scrimmage, the Red Raiders neither committed nor forced a single turnover. Jackson Richards forced a fumble when he came unblocked through the middle of the line, and Malik Jenkins and Micah Awe each got their mitts on passes from Tech quarterbacks, but the defense still wound up with a big turkey egg in that category. And you can bet defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt doesn't like that kind of number one bit.

But what can be done to generate turnovers? Despite an emphasis on just that last season, the Red Raiders finished 98th nationally in interceptions and 76th in fumble recoveries. And as homely as those numbers are, they still constituted an improvement over what Tech had done in previous seasons.

Blitzes, conscious attempts to strip the ball, hard hitting, zone coverages and gang tackling create turnovers. But so do great players. Wallerstadt can coach the former, but does he have the latter? We'll have a slightly better idea Friday night.

Flash in the Pan?
Defensive lineman Donte Phillips was a borderline beast in the Petro Scrimmage, but was it a fluke? Tech badly needs for his performance not to have been a one-hit wonder. So keep your eye on big 94 to see if Tech has something here, or whether Phillips was just a mirage on the Permian Basin horizon.

Will Lightning Strike Twice?
In the same vein, lots of folks will be watching wideout D. J. Polite-Bray to see whether he too can follow up one big scrimmage with another. The sophomore from Georgia put on a bit of a show in Midland. He snagged passes worth 100-plus yards and was clearly the most dangerous receiver on the field. Like Phillips' performance, Polite-Bray's big day was a surprise because he got very few opportunities as a true freshman. If he can emerge as a genuine explosive-play threat, young Davis Webb will have an embarrassment of weapons in 2014.

The Other Corner
Thierry Nguema is currently slated to be Tech's starter at the boundary corner spot opposite Justis Nelson. Unfortunately, he got worked a bit down in Midland. But Wallerstedt does have options here. Tyler Middleton recorded a hellified hit in the previous scrimmage, and Dee Paul looked pretty good in coverage. This position is shaping up to be a heavy duty competition, and a darned important one at that.

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