8/14 Practice Report: Front Four!
The front four, or the Defensive line, has been the biggest worry heading into the spring. With a lack of true DTs coming in and a lot of converted Des, one might think that the Red Raiders will be hurting. The fact is quite the opposite. I have actually come away quite impressed by the play of the line. Dek Bake has been very strong so far. Despite being smaller than the ideal DT, Bake possesses an athleticism that aids in getting around typically slower interior OL. Another welcome "re-addition" is Chris Hudler. After not being able to participate in the spring due to injury, Hudler is back and looks to come on strong, fighting for a starting DT role next to Bake.
The story of the fall on the DL seems to be the emergence of Randall Cherry at the LE. Cherry has good size and footwork to get to the passer, but looks to shore up a porous run D. The key to the DL will be the play of junior Keyunta Dawson. Dawson, who will be replacing ex-Raider, now-Charger Adell Duckett, is more athletic and tougher off the rush edge. Dawson will be the "key" (pardon the pun) to how the Pass D improves this season. Fighting for the back up positions at DE is a congested mess. The top three contenders are newcomer McKinner Dixon, Jared Williams, and Brett Bischofberger. Rashad Hunt could contribute, but given a red shirt year, Hunt could grow into an interior lineman. Fred Thrweatt and Ken scott also provide some depth on the interior. The emergence of a "new" wrinkle, the 3-4, has a look all its own. The first line in the 3-4 will feature Cherry, Scott, and Dawson. Following that line is Dixon, Bake, Dawson.
8/14 Practice Report: A look at the Linebackers
With Brinkley not practicing, Chad Hill and Paul Williams have had a chance to shine. Williams has come along quite well in pass defense. That's where Hill is lacking. Hill needs to improve his pass read and recognition skills before he will overtake Williams. Kellen Tillman is another guy that will fight hard for time, but should Brinkley maintain his role as the #4 guy, Tillman will be hard-pressed to find time on the field outside of special teams play.
8/14 Practice Report: The Backfield
Safety this season is not really a concern. With Tech running a lot of Okie sets (drop the third LB (Stratton) and add a third safety), Joe Garcia will get a lot of reps in coverage. Obviously, Slay and Meeks have the top two slots locked down, but what about their back ups? Well, Garcia can step in for Meeks and Greg Aycock is a more than capable back up for Dwayne Slay. The top two slots at corner are manned down as well. With the teams leading tackler, Khalid Naziruddin returning at one side and Antonio Huffman manning the other side, the question comes inŠ'Who are the nickel and dime backs? Well, the #3 cornerback looks to be Darcel McBath. With his ability to flock to the ball, he will be valuable in zone coverage. This is where things get a little foggy. With Marcus Bunton out with a broken arm, it leaves a slot open to be fought for in the dime package. Chris Parker and newcomer Daniel Charbonnet look to be the main two in contention for that spot. Parker made a couple of great breaks on red zone passes today, but Charbonnet possesses great speed, ideal in man-to-man and even zone coverage. Right now, unless Bunton returns, it looks as if the order will stand like this:
1) Khalid Naziruddin
2) Antonio Huffman
4) Chris Parker
5) Daniel Charbonnet