Photo By Steven Chapman

Choice Cuts: Texas Tech Spring Practices 8 and 9 senior writer Joe Yeager dishes on what Texas Tech coaches and players said following spring practice this week.

After Practice Tuesday


  • After looking at the film of the Petroscrimmage, Kingsbury really liked the play of the new JUCO guys on defense. Tony Jones showed great speed; Vaughnte Dorsey was knocking people around; the same for Jaylon Lane; Octavious Morgan disrupted bubble screens by shedding blocks.
  • Tony Jones’ chance of starting or getting lots of reps is “really high.” He has a great skill set. He chases the ball and hits when he arrives; plus he’s very athletic. It’s really just a matter of Jones learning David Gibbs’ system. When Dakota Allen and Jordyn Brooks are back, and with Jones in the mix, Tech should have a “deep and athletic” linebacker corps.
  • Nic Shimonek is where he should be right now in terms of being a starting quarterback for Tech in general. He made all the right reads and throws in Midland. In practice Shimonek has forced passes too much because he has such a big arm. He’s a great leader and is operating at a high level.
  • In Frisco Kingsbury wants to see better open-field tackling from the defense, and on offense, fewer pre-snap penalties and more players chasing the football.
  • The scrimmage format in Frisco will be similar to that in Midland, although there may be a few more open-ended and extended drive opportunities.
  • Madison Akamnonu will soon be having a “procedure” done on his back and will hopefully be ready to go by the beginning of fall camp. Once he returns, he should be as good as new. The diagnosis was made a few weeks ago, and alternatives to the procedure were tried but without good effect.
  • Pat Mahomes will get to “dictate the script” for his Pro Day whereas in the past the script was dictated to him.
  • The absence of Akamnonu provides Jack Anderson with a “strong opportunity” for playing time. He needs to develop his pass sets more than anything else.
  • Dawson Deaton has learned guard and center and has sometimes run with the Ones at center. Will Farrar is at right tackle, is stepping up, and is getting some good reps there.
  • Guards Bailey Smith and Jacob Hines “have a ways to go.” Must mature, get stronger and tougher and better overall.

Jah’Shawn Johnson

  • Gibbs liked that his players “flew around” in Midland, but didn’t like the slow start in the second half.
  • Desmon Smith is making progress. Very aggressive, great in the run game, uses his hands well. Great ball skills and tackler, and is improving as a cover guy.
  • In Midland the defense had four opportunities for turnovers, but got none.
  • The new DBs are aggressive, they run to the ball, and they study hard so they’re practicing at full speed.

Broderick Washington

  • Players take practice much more seriously when it occurs in front of thousands of people—Midland, Frisco. When you make a bad play in a regular practice the coach yells at you; when you screw up in front of the fans and media, it is humiliating.
  • Believes he still needs to work on pad-level and footwork.
  • There’s so much to learn on the offensive side of the ball, and the young linemen are doing a good job of learning it.
  • Terence Steele is the most physically strong of the offensive linemen.

Texas Tech Defensive Lineman Houston Miller/Photo By Steven Chapman

Houston Miller

  • Was 240 pounds when he arrived at Tech and is now at 272 with plans to gain even more. Will eventually be capable of playing every position on the D-line, and that versatility is expected from all defensive linemen.
  • Miller should be able to play the 3-tech in all situations, not just on passing downs.
  • Using your hands and gaining leverage are the toughest things to learn when moving from end to tackle.
  • Watches Washington and Nunez the most when trying to learn the tricks of playing inside.
  • The weight Miller gained is “good weight” inasmuch as it has not slowed him down at all. He moves as well at 272 as he did at 240.

After Practice Thursday

Eric Morris

  • During the Midland scrimmage it was difficult for the offense to get into any kind of a rhythm because of the situational structure. Was pleased that the offense bounced back and played better in the second half. The biggest problem with the offense right now is playing with 10 guys, i.e. players are taking turn making mistakes. The mistakes are correctable.
  • The offensive line is in flux, with coaches trying to find the right players for the right positions.
  • Jacob Hines has had a really good week of practice. A “pleasant surprise” that a JUCO guy is picking things up this quickly. Hines is now running with the ones.
  • Paul Stawarz has been good with his calls, better than the calls were last year. Stawarz has been doing this despite the fact that the defense has been playing many different fronts. Stawarz needs to get stronger and become more physical at the point of attack.
  • Being physical on the o-line is a combination of strength, technique and mentality.
  • The best offensive lines Morris has been around are the ones that are cohesive as a group.
  • Hines, who was a tackle at JUCO, is athletic enough to pass block as a guard at the Big 12 level. He needs to learn how to block 300-pounders versus 250-pounders in the run game. Hines is 325 pounds and is not particularly rangy; he’s built like a guard.
  • Emo is anxious to see how indoor fireworks work out in the Star.
  • Garth Brooks is Emo’s favorite musician of all time.

David Gibbs

  • Defense is getting better. More depth. Backups who can go into the game and actually function.
  • Defense got away with five penalties in the first half of the Midland scrimmage. The refs took pity on the defense and waived them off. (Not sure if he was serious about this.) The defense’s familiarity with the offense was a help.
  • The JUCO defensive backs are big, and they are veterans who’ve played against really good players. They’re all thrilled to be at Texas Tech. Fans will be impressed when they see them in action.
  • Nelson Mbanasor is a legitimate Big 12 defensive lineman. He is inconsistent at this point, but he’s 280 pounds and can run. He’s physical and strong, and will be a good player.
  • The scrimmage in Frisco is important primarily as a recruiting tool.
  • Gibbs expects some players to freeze up when playing in front of 13,000 fans. He would rather know which players are going to freak out right now than for this to manifest itself for the first time in front of 60,000 people in Jones Stadium.
  • D.J. Polite-Bray looks like a different player from what he was last season. Maybe it’s a case of maturation. In any event, he’s playing well every single day in practice. He has to maintain this level of play and be consistent.
  • Jaylon Lane and Octavious Morgan are legitimate Big 12 corners.
  • The defense has made some changes scheme-wise, but “nothing crazy.” Some of this is adjusting to newcomers Mbanasor, Tony Jones, Butler, Lane and Vaughnte Dorsey.
  • Christian Taylor and Jamile Johnson have done a good job so far at linebacker. They’re working hard and improving. They’ll both have a role to play.
  • The biggest improvement on this defense will be the secondary. There are better players back there than in the past.
  • Playing nickel in the Big 12 is like playing nickel in the NFL. Douglas Coleman has benefitted from having done so.

Texas Tech Receiver Quan Shorts/Photo By Steven Chapman

Quan Shorts

  • He’s truly healthy for the first time.
  • The defense is great, snagging lots of interceptions, which is making the receivers better.
  • Through the rehab process he got faster. He also spent a lot of time watching film.

Bailey Smith

  • The most improvement has come in the run game, which has been the primary focus of the spring.
  • Coach Jones is straightforward and to the point.
  • Paul Stawarz and Terence Steele are the line’s leaders.

Keke Coutee

  • The transition from H to Y has been easy because there is not much difference between the two. Some of H’s routes are deeper than Y.

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