Observations From the Petro Scrimmage

Several Red Raiders shined Saturday during the Texas Tech spring game in Midland. Perhaps none more than DeAndre Washington (pictured above) and the running game.

On the whole I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the defense. And certainly one of the better aspects of the defense’s performance was quarterback pressure.

The number of actual sacks was fairly small, but there were a couple of touch sacks that went uncalled, and of course, during a scrimmage, defensive players cannot pin their ears back and come after the quarterback full bore because of the stricture against hitting the QB. Nevertheless, there was fairly consistent pressure coming off of the edge from Branden Jackson and Pete Robertson, and an occasional push up the middle from players like Rika Levi and Breiden Fehoko. This was accomplished, moreover, with three- and four-man fronts almost exclusively, and very little blitzing.

Running Game Looked Solid
It’s hardly surprising, but Tech’s ground attack looked very solid. Early in the scrimmage, Kingsbury dialed up few runs, but they became more frequent later in the day. The ground game was not terribly explosive—but we all know what Justin Stockton and Deandre Washington are capable of in that regard anyway—but it was very workmanlike. Most of the yardage came between the tackles where Jared Kaster, Alfredo Morales and freshman Robert Castaneda generated a good push. Redshirt freshman Demarcus Felton got a heavy workload and produced. He looks like a typical Texas Tech spread back: small, quick, elusive and with good vision. He also showed the ability to pop outside the tackle for yardage when nothing was available inside. Stockton ran more physically than we saw last year, and is benefiting from the 10 pounds of muscle he’s added over the last several months. As Stockton becomes more physical, he will step to the next level and become an every-down type of back.

Corners Battled
Cornerback play, generally speaking, was a defensive strong suit. Nigel Bethel had an exceptionally strong game, but all of the corners played good, tight man coverage and broke well on the ball. Justis Nelson had a couple of nice plays, and D.J. Polite-Bray looks to be developing into a physical presence at the corner. Incidentally, although Payton Hendrix is listed as a safety, he sometimes played at the line in press coverage and covered just like a cornerback. It could be that he’s a hard-hitting safety with cornerback coverage skills. A rare thing, indeed.

Shimonek Looked Rusty
We’ve heard many positive things about backup quarterback Nic Shimonek, and perhaps they’re true, but they were not in evidence in Midland. Simply put, Shimonek was not even remotely accurate with his throws. And if you cannot put the ball on a spot in this offense, you cannot play.

Awe Unleashed
Of the linebackers, Micah Awe was Tech’s best. He got one beautiful pick on a deep zone drop, and delivered a few punishing blows to ball-carriers. Awe seemed to be in the doghouse, to some extent, with previous defensive coordinators, but has a clean slate with David Gibbs. With Gibbs’ full confidence, Awe may be fully unleashed in 2015. Aside from Awe, no linebackers stood out particularly, although Dakota Allen definitely “flashed”—in Kingsbury speak—and looks to be a physical run-stopper. Although Allen backs up Awe, Gibbs said that all the linebackers are cross-trained at every linebacker position, so if Allen is one of the three best, he will be on the field with Awe.

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