Tech QB's Part 2: The Young Guns

Texas Tech might be young at the quarterback position, but we are not lacking for talent. In fact, one might say that we are loaded. All five quarterbacks are highly skilled, hardworking players ready to step up and fill the spot. Any of these five could start at other division one universities. But Texas Tech isn't just the run of the mill as far as quarterbacks are concerned.

(This article is the follow-up to "Tech QB's Part 1: The Boys of Summer," featuring interviews with Sonny Cumbie, Robert Johnson, and Cody Hodges. Part 2 includes interviews with freshmen Graham Harrell and Phillip Daugherty.)

Texas Tech might be young at the quarterback position, but we are not lacking for talent. In fact, one might say that we are loaded.

All five quarterbacks are highly skilled, hardworking players ready to step up and fill the spot. Any of these five could start at other division one universities. But Texas Tech isn't just the run of the mill as far as quarterbacks are concerned. Boasting nine NCAA offensive records last season under quarterback B.J. Symons, many of which eclipsed previous records set by quarterback Kliff Kingsbury, we are clearly Quarterback U.

Head Coach Mike Leach's insistence on sticking with one quarterback regardless of unavoidable growing pains has produced outstanding offensive results. Too many programs flounder as a direct result of an indecisive coach rotating quarterbacks like hot cakes. Doing so reflects a lack of confidence that trickles down through the ranks.

"You successfully make two quarterbacks mediocre," Leach commented in the latest issue of Dave Campbell's Texas Football. I've seen it happen, so I couldn't agree more.

As most Tech aficionados already know, the Red Raider offense takes a long time for quarterbacks to learn. Few college coaches give their players the freedom to change plays according to reads they make on the line, but to Leach the idea is commonplace.

Consequently, no amount of talent can replace the time needed to study film, practice reads, and perfect timing. This dedication is why our quarterbacks are truly students of the game.

All five are up at the crack of dawn to lift weights and run, watch film, go to class or work, and then return in the afternoon for 7-on-7. These quarterbacks are all extremely dedicated.

Red Raider quarterback Phillip Daugherty knows a thing or two about hard work after red shirting as a freshman last season. The opportunity to learn the offense without wasting a year of eligibility proved valuable.

Daugherty spent countless hours in the film room with Coach Leach before and after practice correcting and re-correcting each play. He also had the chance to challenge the defense on a daily basis as a scout team quarterback.

He had better not let the offensive linemen catch wind of this, but it sounds like Phillip is getting ready to learn how to take a hit. "When the defense gets a little agitated, they like to unleash on you. It's really not that bad though," said Daugherty with a laugh.

Spending the 2003 season on the sidelines watching quarterback B.J. Symons also helped Phillip. What did he learn from Symons besides how to play with a torn ACL? "Determination." Enough said.

According to Daugherty, the biggest obstacle to learning the offense is knowing which play to check up and down the field.

"We have such a wide variety of plays, and Coach Leach gives the quarterback the liberty to check any play he sees fit. That took a little while, but I'm getting the hang of it now," he added.

Daugherty had a piece of advice for newcomer Graham Harrell, who will most likely red shirt his freshman season as well. "Learn to study film, rather than just watch it. Instead of just studying the offense and defense, it's the intricate details I pay attention to now."

Both Harrell and Daugherty agree they've learned a lot from the older players and commented on the work ethic of senior quarterback Sonny Cumbie. "Sonny taught me the offense, and his work ethic has impressed me and been a good influence on me," said Harrell.

Daugherty went even further saying, "College is a whole different game. You have to be a lot more dedicated, and Sonny puts in more time than anyone on this team. He's always in there, always working hard. You'll never see him slacking off. I've just learned that it's expected of the quarterback. He's gotta have that leadership role, but everyone has to see that he's working the hardest out of everybody."

The young guns also look to NFL quarterbacks for inspiration. "Montana wasn't the greatest quarterback, but he knew how to win games when it counted," said Harrell.

He referred to "The Catch" as a great example, reflecting the importance of an elite receiving corps.

New England's Tom Brady was added to the list by a few of the Tech quarterbacks. "He makes big drives, plays well in big moments, and knows where to throw the ball," Harrell added.

Daugherty referred to Brett Favre as an example of a tough quarterback. "He has a strong arm, and played with a broken thumb all year. I don't see how you can grip a ball. It's tough, but he gets it done."

We agreed that anyone who can throw in Green Bay's weather is pretty darn tough.

The common thread that linked the NFL quarterbacks mentioned by all five players was their ability to prepare and to make big plays when it mattered. Sounds like our quarterbacks to me.

In terms of preparation, the new football facilities at Tech have greatly improved training resources for our players.

"I like the campus, and it's kind of a pride thing to have nice facilities," said Harrell.

They probably don't want me to mention this, but besides the weight room, the first thing a few of them mentioned was "the hot tub." Being a collegiate athlete, I can attest that nothing is better for helping reduce muscle soreness and joint stiffness.

"I've never seen a weight room like that. Bennie does a good job pushing us. He doesn't let us slack off, as far as getting into shape for this season. He really has a good workout program for us," Daugherty said regarding Strength and Conditioning Coach Bennie Wylie.

Daugherty also commented on his supportive role this season as a backup quarterback, which includes staying ready and encouraging the starter. He anticipates good performances by senior end Adell Duckett, as well as senior receiver Nehemiah Glover and sophomore receiver Jarrett Hicks. "The offensive line is looking good too. It'll be exciting to watch," he said.

In keeping with tradition, the guys also put in their vote for greatest football movie of all time. Daugherty helped bump "Rudy" up to three votes (including mine), and Harrell mentioned "Remember the Titans." Left side! Strong side!

If you want to know where these guys fuel up after a hard days' work, look no further than hometown favorites Abuelo's, Mamarita's, and Rosa's..


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