"I felt that, you know, we had three that we could win with," he continued. "And then with that said, (Ryan) Roland's looked good too. They've all four improved a lot. I felt good about all three of ‘em coming out here. They all looked better than I expected. "> "I felt that, you know, we had three that we could win with," he continued. "And then with that said, (Ryan) Roland's looked good too. They've all four improved a lot. I felt good about all three of ‘em coming out here. They all looked better than I expected. ">

Sparks appear as staff evaluates Red Raiders

<p>"I was pleasantly surprised by all four quarterbacks," Mike Leach said after practice Saturday. "All four were further along than I thought. I felt that we had some good ones. <p>"I felt that, you know, we had three that we could win with," he continued. "And then with that said, (Ryan) Roland's looked good too. They've all four improved a lot. I felt good about all three of ‘em coming out here. They all looked better than I expected.

"With that said, we've had some good quarterbacks around here in the past. It's kind of been a guy was easier to single out, I guess," Leach said. "I think that's because we've got three pretty good ones, instead of, you know, one and a half or something like that."

Once again, he said, he would wait until the fall practices to name a starting signal-caller. "You never know. You've always got to look at ‘em, evaluate, and see how they progress. There's a sort of a leap-frog thing going on. One gets hot, then the other one gets hot, and so it goes – kind of a leap-frogging, back and forth."

Graham Harrell and Cody Hodges each had an excellent day's work, combining for a 34-of-47 performance in the season's first full-contact scrimmage. Hodges, a 6-1 English major in his senior year, hails from Hereford – which is about where it looked like some of his passes were leading receivers during his 195-yard, two-TD outing. Hodges, whose twin brother Slade is a Tech receiver, threw for more than 2,450 yards as a high school senior. Saturday, the Hodges boys hooked up for a 19-yard strike; Slade caught five other passes during the scrimmage and finished the day with 62 yards.

Robert Johnson's conversion from quarterback to inside receiver continued apace during spring practices. He and Taurean Henderson caught one of Hodges' TD strikes apiece – Johnson a quick 10-yarder and Henderson a 15-yard grab.

The quarterbacks weren't the only pleasant surprises, Leach said. "Shannon Woods has looked good. Glenn January, who looked good at the end of the season, has continued to look good. I'll tell you, both our first and second O-line – I'm happy with how well they've come together. They played well early. They've got to improve."

"When I get a hold of that film, there's probably people and items I can destroy on that thing," he said. "But just, you know, collectively, I thought that (overall scrimmage) was good. Receiver-wise, we're taller and stronger than we have been. Defensively at the end of last year, mid-way through last year, we saw those guys starting to develop, so we can have a predominately junior defense with guys that have quite a bit of experience by junior standards, because they've been starting since they were freshmen."

Leach continued, "A lot of those young guys have done some good things out there, too. In the secondary, Chris Parker comes to mind, and (Dwayne) Slay comes to mind. I'm probably leaving some people out, but just, some of the new face guys and Darcel McBath."

"Khalid (Nazirudin), as good as he was playing at the end of last year," Leach said, "he's definitely improved. Sylvester Brinkley's really done some good things, and as I say, kind of focused on newer guys – oh, Ken Scott has improved. Ken Scott's improved, and I think the defensive line as a whole has.

"As good as I thought Keyunta (Dawson) was last year, I think he's done some good things," Leach said. "Really, I think it's just the experience, and the time playing together. I wouldn't call us a veteran group, but now we're somewhere in the middle and we've got some experience, because most people play with juniors."

Asked if he thought the extension of his contract might come with increased expectations, Leach said, "I try never to think about that. I go out there and I try as hard as I can to win, every game. If it works out, it works out. If it doesn't work out, I don't have anything else – there's nothing else I can do. You know, in terms of resources, as far as the game goes – I may misfire, but the chamber's always empty at the end of the game."

The Wyoming native, a Brigham Young graduate whose five-year leadership of the Texas Tech football team broke new ground by collecting bowl appearances every season, perhaps plays down his talents. After all, the man's gotten a master's from the United States Sports Academy and a law degree from Pepperdine, finishing in the top third of his law-school class. But it's as a coach he's made his reputation, and as a coach he was instrumental in the single-season turnaround that saw Oklahoma's program rise from the Big 12 Conference cellar to its peak and earned Leach a 1999 nomination for the Broyles award as the top assistant coach in the country,

Before joining Bob Stoops' staff at OU, Leach served as the University of Kentucky's offensive coordinator with head coach Hal Mumme; the two worked together at Valdosta State University in Georgia, as well as their first collaboration, at Iowa Wesleyan. But it was the two-year reign of Leach's "Air Raid" offense at Kentucky that set six NCAA records, 41 Southeastern Conference records, and 116 school records in just 16 games. In almost a third of those, Leach's strategic air command racked up more than 500 yards an outing; the best of those seven games came against Louisville with an 801 yard performance, a Kentucky record.

As he did there, Leach intends to improve at Texas Tech, too. "I think it's really a good relationship, as far as everybody working together. The progressive vision of the administration has been instrumental to that."

Although he said he could see himself staying with the Red Raiders until retirement, Leach finished his impromptu press conference Saturday by saying, "You're always focused on the next practice. That's the thing -- the next practice, scrimmage, how we can improve."


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