Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury along with selected defensive players answered questions from gathered media after practice Tuesday and Inside The Red Raiders was there for a full report.
No pads in this first practice following spring break, to try to get more energy from the players, and the energy level was good. Defense got some picks against the younger quarterbacks who had “brain freezes” after spring break.
The entire team made it through spring break without appearing on The Bottom Line. Translation: no trouble with the law or any other authorities of note.
The JUCO DBs (Lane, Morgan, Dorsey) are very competitive, and have not intention of sitting on the bench the first year, just hoping to fit in. They expect to play immediately, and that is a positive.
Hopes that the defensive players pick up their intensity because of Kingsbury’s presence on that side of the ball. He is “their biggest cheerleader.” As much as anything, it’s all about increasing his involvement on that side of the ball, not just with the players, but also the position coaches. Kingsbury knows what the veteran offensive players are all about; now is the time to become similarly acquainted with the guys on defense.
Damarcus Fields reinjured his shoulder in some sort of non-football-related activity and will be out for three to four months.
Joe Wallace is now practicing after a period of punishment. Kingsbury called him “one of the most explosive players on defense,” and said he is a big part of what they’re trying to do on that side of the ball.
Houston Miller, who has put on a good 40 pounds, and could carry 20 more, is now playing a 3-technique position. Tech could use another guy inside, and besides, Kingsbury and staff feel pretty good about the other guys they’ve got at rush end.
Eli Howard, who is a great technician and uses his hands well, and Kolin Hill, who has gotten bigger and stronger, are the lead dogs at rush end right now.
Vaughnte Dorsey is a guy who takes care of his business off the field, and if you met his mother you’d know why. She runs 11 convenience stores by herself and doesn’t tolerate any nonsense, or anything less than excellence from those around her.
Kingsbury wants to see a more celebratory and supportive mentality on defense. This means, among other things, players giving one another praise when they do something good. And doing so creates energy. The offense, which has had a lot of success, doesn’t have much of an issue with this.
Pat Mahomes was at practice today, and Pat’s presence always stimulates Nic Shimonek to “put on a show.” Nic gets to show what he can do in front of a “first-round quarterback.” Those two players have an “incredible relationship” and talk to one another frequently. Now that Pat’s a “big NFL guy,” he’s probably “coaching him [Shimonek] up.”
Kingsbury was very tight lipped about the possible presence of coach Sean Payton in Lubbock today, but it seems quite clear there was something to that rumor. Edit: Payton was indeed in-town for a private workout with former Tech QB Patrick Mahomes.
Rush end is his natural position, with his current weight at 250.
Rush end is a bit more complicated than the other side of the line. There’s more coverage involvement, and the position is almost a hybrid of defensive end and linebacker.
Depending on the offensive play call, Hill can be singled up on a back or a slot receiver.
Kolin’s brother Kaleb is also at rush end, and is doing well, particularly with the technical aspects of the position. Kolin also likes what he’s seen from rush end Lonzell Gilmore this spring.
Kingsbury isn’t just a defensive cheerleader; he will also “get after” defensive players when watching film with them.
Practices at Texas Tech are much harder than they were at the JUCO level.
One of the best things Dorsey’s mom inculcated in him is “looking a man in the eye when talking to him.” That is a sign of integrity.
The JUCO newcomers are all about “hard work and competition.” They talk about this amongst themselves.
Octavious Morgan is “very aggressive,” while Jaylon Lane is long and rangy.
When Nunez leaves the field for the last time, he wants to feel certain he gave everything he possibly could to help the team be the best he could be. He also wants to improve his productivity more than he ever has, if that is what will help the team.
The team was affected by the heat somewhat in practice, but managed to push through it.
Current weight is 327, plans to get down to 315. His mobility is much better than it was last year when he was carrying 345 pounds.