The practice began on a high note, with Leach calling everyone over to watch a few selected players try and overpower each other in a shoving match, which ended up being only one of many altercations on the day. Apparently this is how every practice is going to begin from now on in an effort to get the players fired up, and it appears to be effective considering today's level of play.
There were also several former Red Raiders in attendance, including Dwayne Slay, Khalid Naziruddin, and Anton Paige. It was very enjoyable to watch them and the coaches reminisce about the old days. Leach in particular was disappointed that Anton Paige did not inform him before Anton got his great new haircut, and expressed wishes that his hairstyle could have matched Paige's for the practice. Also entertaining was watching Leach act out weightlifting techniques for Strength Coach Bennie Wylie. Coach Leach really needs a camera to just follow him around and film his day. I'd watch that.
Graham Harrell as always was impressive, and was much more effective than usual in moving around in the pocket today. Perhaps this was more apparent because of the pressure the defensive line put on him compared with yesterday, but he did respond to it well. He has all but confirmed my theory that his arm strength has improved greatly, looking like B.J. Symons in rifling a deep pass to Filani that was unfortunately dropped. However, Chris Todd had his best practice yet, and gained a little ground on Graham. Both Graham and Todd can throw the football with impeccable accuracy, but Todd appears to have quicker feet. Honestly, I'm struggling to find things that they need to work on, and I know the intricacies of the quarterback position rather well. I'll restate that this should not be a point of worry for Red Raider fans for next season.
Nearly all of Texas Tech's receivers had a great day, catching almost everything thrown their way. Hicks was just a workhorse, making catches in traffic like it was nothing more than just routine for him. L.A. Reed continues to impress, and I am fairly sure his biceps are bigger around than my waist. The man has put on some serious size in the offseason, and it's the good kind of size. The "I don't want to try and tackle that guy" kind of size. Robert Johnson had some serious moves today, and ran the double pass today a few times with success. Todd Walker's hands are almost no longer a point of concern, and his routes are much better as well. He looks far better that the kid I saw last year. Unfortunately, Houston did not have as good of an afternoon as usual, and took out some of his frustration in a scuffle with one of the linebackers. Everyone got worried when he decided to punch the linebackers' helmet with a closed fist, because the fist usually doesn't win that battle. Fortunately, Houston shook it off, but it looks like he may need to work on his discipline. On a brighter note, Chris Cunigan redeemed himself for yesterday's struggles with a fantastic catch despite great coverage by Clarence Ward. Eric Morris continues to be a crowd favorite, and plays his heart out on every snap. His quick feet are extremely effective, and he is arguably the best receiver when it comes to maintaining balance and changing direction. Once again, the unit was extremely enjoyable to watch and made Texas Tech fans giddy with excitement for the future.
The offensive line played great yesterday, but they seemed to struggle some in today's practice. There were a few times during 11 on 11's where the QB's were forced to scrammble to avoid getting sacked. Most of the problems came when the starters weren't playing, so as expected, there may be some concern with our depth. Ofa Mohetau should immediately help alleviate this concern when he gets to campus in the fall. Rylan Reed is steadily improving, though, so that is encouraging. Coach Bedenbaugh might need to invest in some chloraseptic spray if he continues to yell as much as he has been thus far. Hopefully they can rebound next week and get back on track to be prepared for next season.
The defensive line had a good afternoon, fully taking advantage of the meager performance of the offensive line. Chris Hudler and Ken Scott continue to play solid football, and Seth Nitschmann is looking strong as well. McKinner Dixon is rumored to be only practicing on Saturdays, but was mysteriously absent today. Dek Bake continued his push for a starting spot with yet another great afternoon. Jake Ratliff and Tyler Yenzer also looked impressive, not playing like backups today. The unit has been impressive thus far in shutting down the running holes in the middle. Overall, the defensive line consistently has played well, which is very encouraging for next year.
Keyunta has great eyes, and looks very solid in coverage for a player who was a defensive lineman up until spring practice. Every practice, he seems more capable of making a starting LB spot. Fletcher Session was extremely physical in the tackling drills early in the practice, and is probably the most well-rounded of all of the linebackers. Chad Hill and Kellen Tillman also had good afternoons, and Tillman might be the best tackler in the entire unit. Paul Williams might push for Stratton's starting MLB spot if Brock's injury hinders him come next season. Also noteworthy was the performance of Brent Slaughter. He is very quick, and is arguably the best in the open-field against running backs.
Once again, Antonio Huffman had a day that will protect his starting spot, and looked to be the most solid of all of the defensive backs. We were wondering why Chris Parker had not practiced the first two days, and today we found out that he is also suffering from an injury. He spent most of the practice watching the defensive backs battling the receivers or throwing passes with Marcus Bunton. The injuries here are worrisome, and leave the race for a starting spot in the secondary wide open. Still, the good news is that there is enough talent on the roster to effectively fill the needs, especially considering some of the stars coming in for the fall. Clarence Ward continues to be a solid contributor, and would have a real chance of earning a starting spot if he could play next season. Darcel McBath is playing well, but is still wearing a cast on his injured arm from last season. Joe Garcia is going to be awfully difficult to supplant from the starting SS spot if he continues to play like he has so far this Spring. He looks leaner, faster, and stronger than last season, and offsets some of the injury concerns here. Loy White also deserves commendation for his strong effort today, shadowing the receivers with his coverage all afternoon.
The running backs had a decent day, but it wasn't all that special. Shannon Woods had a tough day receiving, but was good with the ball in his hands. Kobey Lewis played well, eluding the grasp of linebackers and defensive backs. He simply gets further than you expect him to every time he has the ball. Unfortunately, Taurance Rawls has been confirmed to be injured, although he is not having difficulty walking around. Pete Richardson has been looking solid, so we here at RP will be sure and follow his progress. We will continue our coverage of practice on Monday.
Now let's hand out some awards:
Best Overall Unit:
Best Individual Performance:
Mr. Underrated: (tie)
Best Newcomer: (tie)