What to Watch for in Red-Black Scrimmage

A guide to Texas Tech's annual spring game, which kicks off 11 a.m. Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium.

Without a doubt, the word
is out that Texas Tech's offense is far ahead of its defense at this juncture in spring camp.

Quarterback Davis Webb has been virtually flawless, and his receivers have been deadly, despite a dropped pass here and there. The defense, on the other hand, was underwhelming in Midland and overwhelmed for Friday Night Lights.

The defensive players and coaches are probably sick of hearing about how they are the team's scarlet-headed stepchildren, and should be highly motivated to redeem themselves in the upcoming scrimmage. But are they capable of doing so? The answer to that question figures large in what Tech fans will want to watch Saturday morning.

Does Defense Prevent Explosive Plays?
At this point Matt Wallerstedt can probably live with his defense allowing touchdowns just so long as it makes the offense sweat for them. For various reasons the offense has a talent advantage and it is therefore to be expected that it will have the upper hand. But what Wallerstedt can't so easily forgive is misalignments and busted assignments that result in touchdowns of 30 yards or more (there were several of those in the first two scrimmages).

If Deandre Washington bolts through the center of the line and meets no resistance from the linebackers en route to a long gainer, there is a problem. If Jakeem Grant and D. J. Polite-Bray torch corners who receive no help from the safeties, there is a problem. If lead-footed linebackers are covering fleet-footed receivers there is a problem. And if blitzes produce more touchdowns than QB pressures there is a problem.

See Davis Webb for Yourself
Not everybody is entirely sold on Davis Webb, and that is somewhat understandable. Prior to his breakout performance in the Holiday Bowl, Webb was hit-and-miss in his true freshman campaign. But so far this spring he has looked like the hero of the Holiday Bowl and then some.

Webb has always had the "look" of an NFL quarterback. He is statuesque in the pocket, highly aware of his surroundings, and possessed of an extremely powerful right arm. But accuracy used to be a real issue. That no longer appears to be the case. His passes have been as accurate as Graham Harrell's during his senior season. But if you still have doubts, see for yourself in the Red-Black Scrimmage. My guess is you'll be a believer when the dust clears.

Is Tyler Middleton the Answer?
In Justis Nelson it looks like Tech has quite possibly one of the best cornerbacks in the Big 12 for the next few seasons. But on the opposite side of the field from him there is not so much certainty.

Thierry Nguema has been the starter so far this spring, but he has been a mixed bag at best. La'Darius Newbold has been inconsistent, and we haven't seen quite enough of Dee Paul to know what he's all about.

The one corner who has really stood out is former JUCO running back Tyler Middleton. We haven't seen him beaten on the deep ball, but we have seen him intercept passes, break them up, and beat ball-carriers to pieces with linebacker-style hits. If Middleton continues to perform this way it will be all but impossible not to promote him to starter status.

*Click here to view the PARKING MAP*

*Click here to view the SCRIMMAGE SCHEDULE*

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