Ryan Rowland was decent today but seemed a little slow in his reads and decision making. He spent the majority of the day working with the Scout team offense, showing that perhaps the three back ups will rotate around until the coaching staff finds one they are comfortable with. Steven Sheffield had a very good day for a young player and showed not only good arm strength but very good decision making, completing one particularly nice pass to LA Reed that went above the defender to where on LA could make a play on the ball. Taylor Potts struggled through the early part of practice but did become more comfortable as practice went on. Taylor certainly has all the potential in the world but will need to continue watching film and working on his mechanics before he is ready to be a starting quarterback.
As a very impressive side note, Graham Harrell seems to have gained a fair amount of weight in the off season and no longer resembles a bean pole but looks to weigh in the 205-210 range. Harrell also showed off an impressive leg but more to come on that later.
Quarterback Depth Chart
Starter: Graham Harrell
Back-Up: Ryan Rowland
3rd String: Steven Sheffield/Taylor Potts
Overall Grade - B+, Harrell had a very good day but the back ups had their ups and downs. As the rust wears off, the competition for the back up spot could be intense.
Running Backs : Kobey Lewis, AKA Show stopper, had another very good day and is going to be a terror next year in relief of Shannon Woods. Lewis is so incredibly quick and does an outstanding job of reading his blocks and using them to his advantage. Lewis also ran a toss out of the back field and showed a terrific burst to get around the corner and run down the far sideline, making opposing defenders look like they had glue on their shoes. Kobey was unable to pull down one pass but it was thrown so high that even Adrian Reese might not have been able to get at it, of course that's not to say that Lewis didn't leap as high as his 5 foot 5 inch frame would allow him trying to bring it down.
Shannon Woods continues to very quietly be his reliable self. Explosive through the hole and a competent receiver, more of the same should be expected from Woods. He did play a little full back today and did an outstanding job of leading Kobey Lewis around the corner on a toss play and was in position to lay a crushing block, had the players been allowed to hit each other. Woods seems to be extremely confident in himself and is not tripping over his feet as he did for portions of last season.
Baron Batch is still sidelined with an injury. He was wearing a brace on his ankle but seemed to be moving about well. No word on when to expect Baron's return.
Running Backs Depth Chart
Starter: Shannon Woods
Back Up: Kobey Lewis
Overall Grade - A, another strong day for the backs, both receiving and rushing the football. Lewis and Woods seem to be developing into a very good 1-2 punch, similar to that of Taurean Henderson and Johnny Mack.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends : If the receivers weren't playing as a group on Wednesday, they did play much better today after a pep talk from Coach Leach. Leach was upset that his receivers weren't blocking well downfield and did an excellent job of motivating his players to block more down the field.
The receivers looked like a different group, playing extremely well together. Danny Amendola and Eric Morriss both had very good days and Landon Hoefer showed very soft hands and terrific body control, reminiscent of that displayed by Red Raider great Trey Haverty. Michael Crabtree had another solid day of practice and made an outstanding on the far sideline and made a great effort to ensure that one of his feet hit the ground before he went out of bounds. LA Reed was back with a vengeance today, not only proving difficult to cover but also offering advice to some of the younger players. Lyle Leong, while still skinny, is nearly impossible to jam at the line and showed terrific acceleration in the red zone drills today, absolutely leaving a defender in the dust as he broke on a slant route to score a touchdown.
Adam James and David Schaefer lined up together today in the two tight end set and both looked good blocking and did a good job of getting open. Adam James looks ready to play D-1 football and would have had a terrific hands catch, had he not been sent sprawling to the turf by a well timed trip from a Scout team defensive back.
Todd Walker did not participate in drills today but RaiderPower was able to confirm that he has an injured pelvis that the trainers and doctors want to ensure is completely healthy. He was allowed to participate in warm-ups but sat out the remainder of practice. He was walking around the Jones with no outward symptoms of an injury.
Receiver Depth Chart -
Z- Michael Crabtree, Edward "Easy Ed" Britton
Y- Amendola, G. Walker
H- Eric Morris, Kelly Hildebrant
X- LA Reed ,Lyle Leong, (Todd Walker, injured)
Overall Grade - B+, if the receivers looked unmotivated on Wednesday they looked much better today. Route running was crisp and there was a desire to catch everything thrown to them.
Offensive Line : The offensive line was not quite as dominant today as they were on Wednesday and Shawn Byrnes did commit the cardinal mistake for a center with one bad snap and one snap that was not expected. He did redeem himself and continued to look good, recovering well from his early mistakes. Josh Aleman was made to look a fool during a 1-on-1 drill but on his next snap he forced his man outside and away from the quarterback. Rylan Reed looks like a wall at right tackle and seems to be taking to the coaching style of Jack Bicknell as a fish takes to water, again not allowing his man past him in 1-on-1 drills. Marlon Winn did a good job and had a particularly impressive stop on Jake Ratliff, holding Ratliff at bay despite Ratliff's best effort. Chris Olson did get frustrated after getting beat on a bull rush by Sandy Riley (Riley made several offensive linemen look bad today) and was upset with himself until calmed down by Coach Bicknell and Brandon Jones, who was at practice and helping with the offensive line. Olson came back for his next rep and did an outstanding job holding his man at bay, showing great poise and confidence rebounding from his earlier mistake.
Stephen Hamby showed flashes of greatness today and recorded the only pancake block of the 1-on-1 linemen drills, sending Britton Barbee to the turf quite forcefully. Hamby also flew down the field to set up a terrific block for Kobey Lewis on a screen pass and Hamby looks like he may provide some much needed depth at the offensive guard position.
Brandon Carter was not present and is assumed to be resting his strained back. Adrian Archie did not participate for injury reasons but was running bleachers before practice in the stands and moving around well.
Offensive Line Depth Chart -
Right Tackle: Rylan Reed, Andrew Johnson
Right Guard: Josh Aleman
Center: Shawn Byrnes, Justin Keown
Left Guard: Louis Vasquez, Stephen Hamby
Left Tackle: Marlon Winn, Chris Olson
Overall Grade - B, while the o-linemen were good they did show that they weren't invincible today and had a few mental errors during the 11-on-11 portion of practice.
Defensive Line : If the defensive line looked soft on Wednesday, they were all business today. Rajon Henley was playing like a bat out of hell and showed that he is by far the best interior pass rusher on the roster, recording several terrific moves against offensive linemen in 1-on-1 drills. Richard Jones and Brian Jones also had strong days and provide hope that all is certainly not lost for the Red Raiders next season. Brian Jones needs to continue to get himself into better condition but looks like he has the potential to step up and play well for the Raiders in 2007. Clint Stoffels nickname of "Turbo" seemed very appropriate and he showed off an incredibly burst of speed coming off of the line. While he is undersized at around 5 feet 11 inches and 260 pounds, he does have the motor to be a good situational player.
Brandon Williams and Sandy Riley were the best outside pass rushers today with Riley looking particularly good at both weak side and strong side end. Brandon Williams looked good but did draw the wrath of left tackle Marlon Winn, who stood Williams up and then gave him a little left jab to the ribs. Winn obviously made his point and the two went about their separate ways. Jake Ratliff looked good with an impressive bull rush and looks like he is working on adding a spin move to his arsenal to make his pass rush ability that much better. Philip Jones may be the best defensive end that no one knows and play with both great pad level and great tenacity. Jones can play either end spot and can play as an undersized tackle if he needs to, showing some of the versatility that former Tech defensive end Seth Nitschmann showed.
Sean Estelle was a practice early but seemed to have re-aggravated his right knee while moving laterally and left to get it checked out. He was moving without a limp and it appears that this was a precautionary move only.
Chris Hudler was at practice and was teaching the defensive tackles as was recently signed player Bobby Agoucha. Agoucha looks like a mountain of a defensive tackle and could certainly help with the Red Raiders lack of depth come August. Agoucha is on Spring Break and was in Lubbock to observe practice and see just what he was going to be doing next year.
Overall Grade - A-, the defensive line did an outstanding job of giving the offensive line all that they could handle and showed signs of becoming a very tight knit group today with Rajon Henley and Richard Jones helping to teach some of the younger linemen different moves during individual unit time.
Linebackers : The linebackers had another good day and looked very good defending the screen in the pass skeleton. While there isn't a ton of starting experience in the linebackers, there are several young players that looked like they can contribute in the near future. Victor Hunter continues to impress in the middle and while one person observing practice called him "fat," Hunter plays like some who is 30 or 40 pounds lighter. He showed great quickness and sheer foot speed today and looks like he is working had to ensure he is the #2 middle linebacker in the coming season. Ryan Hale also looked good in the middle today and Marlon Williams showed off his versatility, playing both in the middle and on the weak side this afternoon. Kellen Tillman looks like he has continued to work on his speed and coverage ability and had hitting been allowed today would have killed one of the Scout team receivers on a screen play gone wrong. Paul Williams was consistent in the middle but was making the "routine play" and not doing anything noticeably wrong. Blake Collier did make several mental mistakes early in practice but was quickly corrected by Coach Setencich and Collier did not repeat his earlier mistakes as practice progressed. Julius Howard and Brian Duncan have raw talent but are in need of some polishing to turn that talent and potential into on the field contribution.
Linebackers Depth Chart
Weak Side Linebacker: Marlon Williams, Blake Collier, Julius Howard
Middle Linebacker: Paul Williams, Victor Hunter Ryan Hale
Strong Side Linebacker: Kellen Tillman, Ty Linder, Brian Duncan
Overall Grade - B+, another strong outing by the linebackers, they quietly went about another good day of practice.
Secondary : The secondary continues to show why it will be the strength of the Red Raider defense in 2007. Everyone in the group seems to be bonding quickly and Joey Garcia and Darcel McBath are the leaders calling the shots. The starters had a good day and Jamar Wall recorded another interception that he could easily have been a touchdown for the Red Raiders sophomore corner. Wall also showed off his versatility, shifting into the nickel back role in the nickel and dime defensive packages. Daniel Charbonnet, in addition to providing special teams play and a very good cover safety, played as the dime corner today and seems determined to get onto the field any way that he can. Marcus Bunton continues to play taller than he actually is and showed no fear in going into the air with some of the taller receivers to make a play on the ball.
Anthony Hines and Lance Fuller continue to impress as back ups and Fuller would have had a Dwayne Slay type hit had the players been in pads. Joey Garcia and Darcel McBath are the old men in the secondary and are using that maturity to not only their own benefit but are teaching some of the younger players as well and ensuring that everyone is lined up correct. Brent Nickerson showed flashes of greatness this afternoon and play very well when Wall was moved inside to cover the slot receiver.
Chris Parker did not practice again today but was at practice, watching and helping some of the younger corners.
Secondary Depth Chart -
Right Cornerback: Marcus Bunton, Brent Nickerson
Free Safety: Darcel McBath, Daniel Charbonnet/Lance Fuller
Strong Safety: Joe Garcia, Anthony Hines
Overall Grade - A-, not quite as good of a day from a take away stance as on Wednesday, the secondary looked very good and continues to be a very dangerous part of the Tech defense.
And a little fun!!!
The Red Raiders put out an open call to the Tech students for a punter this week and had two prospects at practice this afternoon. While these two individuals, obviously intimidated by all the extremely good athletes around them, punted to the best of their abilities, the scholarship players felt that they deserved a shot at the punting job as well. Victor Hunter let loose two horrendous shanks, one that came a little to close to my head for my own comfort. Graham Harrell let loose a 45 yard bomb after practice that just might show that Harrell could run a shotgun punt, although it appears that his one nice kick was a fluke. Daniel Charbonnet and Jordy Rowland got a chance to return several of the walk on punters kicks and while they tried their best, both should stick to playing defensive back and leaving the punt returning to Jamar Wall, Eric Morris, and Danny Amendola.
In all seriousness, it does seem that the team is without a punter at this point and more tryouts are expected in the next several days to see if one can be found until Jonathan LaCour is on campus.
Now it's time for some awards
Offensive MVP: Eric Morriss/Danny Amendola
Defensive MVP: Jamar Wall
Mr. Underrated: Landon Hoefer, Clint Stoffels
New Comer of the Day: Justin Keown
Unit of the day: The running backs stole the show on offense today showing great poise and reading the blocks extremely well. The offensive line comes in a close second, particularly for getting downfield on screens and draws.
Come back tomorrow for the next RaiderPower Spring 2007 practice report.