March 31st Practice Report

There were definitely a few interesting suprises in todays Spring Practice. First off, former freshman all-american DE McKinner Dixon was back in Lubbock and talking about a possible return. RaiderPower.com has the latest on McKinner's plans of a possible return to the Red Raiders plus a complete breakdown of every position.

Quarterbacks :

The quarterbacks all had good days and Graham Harrell continued his trend of making good reads and distributing the ball well between both players on his left and right. Harrell threw 3 touchdowns today and was just about as crisp and clean as he could be. The change from this time last year to now is incredible and this man is looking more and more like a salty veteran ready to make Big XII defenses pay for the embarrassment that they caused him last year.

QB Graham Harrell is showing his experience

For the first time this spring, Taylor Potts looked like a very good quarterback. Quick with his throws and fast with his decision making, Potts recorded one touchdown pass to his high school teammate Lyle Leong (Leong is playing with a broken left finger) and directing the offense extremely well. Potts was sacked once but showed great poise throughout the scrimmage. Potts did misfire badly on a pass that was intercepted by Daniel Charbonnet and certainly would have resulted in a touchdown for the defense but Potts didn't lose his composure and rebounded well.

Steven Sheffield didn't look as sharp as he had today and threw a pass right to Ty Linder. While it was a nice pass, unfortunately for Sheffield Linder plays linebacker and intercepted the pass recording the defenses first interception of the day. Sheffield did throw a very nice touchdown pass to Eric Morriss in the corner of the end zone and showed some good foot speed when he scrambled at one point during the scrimmage.

Of note was the absence of Ryan Rowland for the second day of practice and while none of the official Texas Tech sources would confirm his departure from the team, it does seem one of the more likely explanations for his absence. RaiderPower will continue to look into this issue and will pass along anything that is of interest regarding Ryan's situation.

Quarterback Depth Chart

Starter: Graham Harrell

Back-Up: Taylor Potts

3rd String: Steven Sheffield

Overall Grade - A, the quarterbacks looked very good and threw the ball extremely well. They rebounded well from a shaky start yesterday and each player showed off great skills that are needed by a Division 1 quarterback.

Running Backs : The running backs had a terrific day and showed off great speed and power. Kobey Lewis had several great runs and look much like former Red Raider running back Johnny Mack with his elusiveness, speed, and agility. Lewis scored one touchdown during the scrimmage and walked in nearly untouched thanks to the great push by the offensive line.

Shannon Woods also had a very good day and had several good runs but most were between 8-12 yards. Shannon did continue to show off his ability to finish runs and lower his shoulder to gain extra yards after first contact. Woods also continues to block on end- arounds and his pass blocking continues to be one of his strengths.

In injury news, Baron Batch was on crutches today at practice and appears to have had surgery again on his injured ankle. RaiderPower has yet to determine the timetable for Baron's return but he should be ready by the time the 2007 season is ready to kick off.

Running Backs Depth Chart

Starter: Shannon Woods

Back Up: Kobey Lewis

Overall Grade -A-, the backs had a very good day but did have a few dropped passes. Both Kobey Lewis and Shannon Woods are hungry runners that like getting the ball and pride themselves on getting every inch of turf they can.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends :

LA Reed, Danny Amendola, and Eric Morris stole the show today at receiver. LA Reed was dominant as the X receiver and showed the physical play that had been lacking during certain portions of early spring practice. Reed showed great acceleration and a tenacious attitude nearing on contempt for anyone who tried to tackle him one on one. Reed showed off several incredible jukes and left defensive back Marcus Bunton wondering whether or not his ankles were still intact after one particularly impressive juke. It took 8 players at one point (yes, that is 8) to get LA to the ground and he certainly has the potential to be that physical presence that the Red Raiders will need for the 2007 season. Danny Amendola had several clutch catches as the Y receiver tends to do and also showed great agility in a 43 yard scamper after the catch in which he was led down the field by Big H receiver David Schaefer. Eric Morriss scored a touchdown on a great route combined with a very well thrown pass from quarterback Steven Sheffield. Morriss continues to flourish with his increased playing time and could become one of the better H receivers that Tech has seen in Coach Mike Leach's tenure.

Michael Crabtree had a good day and scored an approximately 30 yard TD after breaking the tackle of Jamar Wall and out running all of the opposing defenders to the end zone. Crabtree continues to show off a very impressive style of play for such a young player and could potentially be a game breaking receiver the likes of which hasn't been seen in quite some time. Eddie Britton also seems to be flourishing at the X receiver position with a particularly impressive juke and run after the catch that resulted in 6 points for the Red Raider offense. Lyle Leong made a very touch catch on the sideline of the near side (south) endzone this afternoon on a well thrown pass from Taylor Potts. The part of the catch that was impressive though was the fact that Leong is playing with a "club" on two broken fingers on his left hand. Leong showed no hesitation and made several catches with his inured hand and didn't once blame a drop on his injury (unlike a certain receiver for a certain NFL football team…).

The tight ends had a quite day although Adrian Reese did record several good catches. Adam James continues to be moved around, practicing at H, Y, Big H, Big Y, and punter. David Schaefer notched his first reception of spring on a 5 yard gain, showing perhaps an improvement in his hands over the last few seasons.

Receiver Depth Chart -

Z- Michael Crabtree, Eddie Britton, Landon Hoefer

Y- Danny Amendola, G. Walker

H- Eric Morris, Kelly Hildebrant

X- LA Reed, Eddie Britton Lyle Leong, Brik Brinker (Todd Walker, injured)

Overall Grade - A+, the receivers ran great routes, got open, and made just about every catch that they could be asked to make.

Offensive Line :

The offensive line played extremely well today as a group and managed to cut down on the occurrences of mental breakdowns that had reared their ugly head earlier in the spring. Chris Olson continues to show off versatility playing right guard with the starting offense, left tackle and left guard with the second team players, showing no drop off in his play at any position. Rylan Reed is very quietly having a nice spring and he and Stephen Hamby seem to be developing a great tandem at right guard and right tackle. Shawn Byrnes continues to play well as the starting center and is doing a very good job making calls at the line of scrimmage. Louis Vasquez is as big as ever and is developing a mean streak a mile wide which should help him during the regular the 2007 campaign. Marlon Winn, while a joker when the pads are off, continues to impress with his play at right tackle and with more work should be a very capable protector of the blindside of Graham Harrell and the other Red Raider quarterbacks.

The line did a particularly good job at opening rushing lanes for the running backs and while they did give up 3 sacks, they were mostly after the quarterback had taken to much time to throw the ball.

Offensive Line Depth Chart -

Right Tackle: Rylan Reed, Andrew Johnson

Right Guard: Brandon Carter (Injured), Stephen Hamby

Center: Shawn Byrnes, Justin Keown

Left Guard: Louis Vasquez, Stephen Hamby

Left Tackle: Marlon Winn, Chris Olson

Overall Grade - A, another strong day by a young unit, the line continues to do well under the direction of Jack Bicknell.

Defensive Line : The defensive line continues to play larger than their size and showed off another good day in practice. While they didn't record as many sacks as they had in past practices, they did move around well and chase the ball well down field. Clint "Turbo" Stoffels continues to impress with his heart and work ethic. Today he chased down Eric Morriss and hit him just about as hard as was possible. While Morriss held onto the ball, he certainly didn't enjoy getting blasted from the blindside and made his feelings known. RaJon Henley played some at defensive end today in the 3-4 alignment and showed good pass rushing moves at that position. Brandon Williams and Jake Ratliff both applied good pressure and Ratliff chased down Kobey Lewis on a toss for a loss of 4 yards.

Will McKinner Dixon make it back to Lubbock?

Perhaps the biggest revelation from practice was the information that McKinner Dixon is expected to return to the Red Raider football team in time for the 2007 season. Dixon was at practice and appears to have all of his issues straightened out. Dixon appears to be in terrific shape and could certainly have played today if he was allowed to. He appeared to greatly miss the ability to be in with the team at huddles and looks like his love of the game has overtaken his earlier transgressions regarding his academic status.

Overall Grade - B+, while the line was good today they did not apply great pressure on the quarterbacks and did get pushed around some by the offensive line later in the practice.

Linebackers :

The linebackers had a good day with Ty Linder recording an interception, his first of spring practice. Blake Collier looked particularly quick and doesn't seem to have lost a step, even with the additional weight that he has put on. Collier is the type of player that has no problem laying a big hit but also does a very good job at wrapping up the person he is hitting, ensuring that even if they do get away they aren't going far. Marlon Williams showed off great sideline to sideline mobility and is going to be a force to be reckoned with as he starts to see the field next season and for seasons to come. Kellen Tillman and Paul Williams were both quiet and continue to make the routine play without an undue celebration, as one would expect of veteran players.

Ryan Hale recorded the huge play of the day as he wrapped up and threw Adrian Reese to the turf on a screen play. Hale read screen even before the ball was thrown and had he been any faster might have been able to snag the ball and take off in the other direction. Reese attempted to break the tackle but Hale showed some maturity and intelligence by wrapping up Reese's legs and bringing him down quickly. The linebackers also showed off some impressive blitzes and blitz fakes and it seems that blitzing may be more often next year as confidence in Red Raider defensive backs continues to soar.

Linebackers Depth Chart

Weak Side Linebacker: Marlon Williams, Blake Collier, Julius Howard

Middle Linebacker: Paul Williams, Victor Hunter/Marlon Williams, Ryan Hale

Strong Side Linebacker: Kellen Tillman, Ty Linder, Brian Duncan

Overall Grade - A, the linebackers were playing well sideline to sideline and showed some terrific athleticism today, particularly in their ability to recover when an offensive player attempted to escape.

Secondary : The secondary had a fairly good day with several great individual performances and several that were lacking. Darcel McBath had the best day of the defensive backs with a tremendous hit on

Darcel McBath has had a great spring

 Grant Walker and a leaping pass deflection, also intended for Grant Walker. Jordy Rowland obliterated LA Reed on one play in a hit that was reminiscent of those that Ryan Aycock used to dish out as the Red Raiders strong safety. De'Shon Sanders continues to have good practices and shows a remarkable amount of polish for a player that is straight from a junior college and is improving his status with the team and the coaches as each practice continues.

Marcus Bunton and Jamar Wall, while good in pass coverage today, were not their normal good tackling selves. Bunton was juked twice by LA Reed and once by Eddie Britton and Jamar had a tackle broken by Michael Crabtree that resulted in a touchdown for the former Dallas Carter star. Bunton did redeem himself with a great pass breakup later in practice and Jamar continued to play hard, even after his tackle was broken on the touchdown pass.

Daniel Charbonnet had an outstanding interception today and showed great awareness by stepping in front of the receiver to intercept the pass and head in the other direction. Joey Garcia, while not making many huge plays on the field today, he did continue to show the qualities of a leader as he helped show Marcus Bunton the mistake that he made which allowed LA Reed to score and how to correct his mistake.

Secondary Depth Chart -

Right Cornerback: Marcus Bunton, Brent Nickerson, De'Shon Sanders

Free Safety: Darcel McBath, Daniel Charbonnet/Lance Fuller, Jordy Rowland

Strong Safety: Joe Garcia, Anthony Hines, Daniel Charbonnet

Left Cornerback: Jamar Wall, Pete Richardson/LaRon Moore

Overall Grade - B+, several good individual performances but there were also several that left something to be desired.

Now it's time for some awards

Offensive MVP: LA "Doesn't Go Down" Reed

Defensive MVP: Darcel "Flying High" McBath

Mr. Underrated: Eddie "Easy Ed" Britton

New Comer of the Day: LaRon Moore/De'Shon Sanders

Unit of the day: Wide Receivers

Come back Monday for the next RaiderPower Practice report!


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