The play of the three quarterbacks today started to distance each and show what role that they can be expected to take on during the 2007 season. Graham Harrell was very good today and played just about as flawless as he could. Harrell made a number of good throws and continues to develop into a very dangerous quarterback. He is establishing a very good relationship with all of the receivers on the roster and doesn't seem to have one guy that he throws to more often than the others.
Taylor Potts looked very good today and had a confident attitude that made him very effective during practice this afternoon. He threw the ball well and led Eddie Britton perfectly on a deep over the shoulder pass during the pass skeleton portion of practice. Potts seems to have shaken off some of the rust that showed early in practice and while he is by no means perfect, he is demonstrating a clear understanding of the offense and an ability to throw every pass that needs to be made in the Air Raid.
Steven Sheffield just had an off day. He threw 3 interceptions and was sacked by Blake Collier during the 11-on-11 drills. Sheffield also attempted to throw a ball but it was deflected at the line back into his face. Sheffield had difficulty completing his passes today and in comparison to Taylor Potts just seemed about half of a second slow on everything that he did. Sheffield is a tough kid with a thick skin so he should rebound well but he certainly did have some issues today during practice.
As a mildly interesting anecdote, the quarterbacks were practicing their ability to play in the infield. That is correct, they were practicing baseball. While the other groups were running kick and punt return drills, the quarterbacks were working on their ability to "turn two" with a football and showed exactly why these gentlemen play quarterback and not baseball. Graham Harrell put it best, "We could be the worst infield in the country". While the infield of certain major league baseball teams might disagree, they should stick to throwing a football.
Quarterback Depth Chart
Starter: Graham Harrell
Back-Up: Taylor Potts
3rd String: Steven Sheffield
Overall Grade - B-, Harrell had a great day, Potts a fairly good one, and Sheffield was just down right awful during portions of practice.
Running Backs :
The running backs had a good solid practice and ripped off several long runs and showed great moves in the open field after the catch. Kobey Lewis continues to impress with his ability to juke and hit the hole quickly while Shannon Woods showcased some serious speed this afternoon. Woods took a handoff, sprinted around the corner behind a great block from Chris Olson, and hit the sideline at full speed. Woods outran every member of the defense and certainly would have scored if the Red Raiders were playing in a scrimmage.
Woods did drop an easy shovel pass that could have gone for big yardage but rebounded well with several very good runs and a terrific juke into the open field. Kobey Lewis did a nice job of holding Blake Collier at bay today during practice, even though Collier is much taller and bigger than Lewis. While Kobey didn't exactly stand Collier up, he did lower his pads and keep Collier away from quarterback Graham Harrell long enough to ensure that Harrell had time to complete his read and throw the football.
Running Backs Depth Chart
Starter: Shannon Woods
Back Up: Kobey Lewis
Overall Grade - A, another strong day by the backs, they showed great vision and did a terrific job of reading their blocks today.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends :
The wide receivers had a terrific day today and proved that perhaps they are ready to reclaim the title of AFROS (America's Finest Receivers On Saturdays). Michael Crabtree and Eddie Britton stole the show today. Crabtree had several terrific catches including a one-hander that made just about every jaw at the practice field drop open in surprise at the athleticism that Crabtree showed. Crabtree, as long as he stays healthy, will own every receiving record at Texas Tech and probably the Big XII before he is threw. He is nothing more than a pure athlete and he could quite conceivably be put at any position whether it is wideout, cornerback, safety, running back, and still be incredibly successful. He also showed off some serious power as he sent defensive back Nathan Stone to the turf after catching a pass in the flats.
While Britton didn't have quite the same jaw dropping single play that Crabtree did, Britton had a long go route that went for a touchdown and he nearly took a slant route to the house. Britton is seeing more of his time at the X receiving position but continues to play Z as well, particularly to run end arounds. Britton is the best player at running the end around on the team and seems to revert back to his old running back self with the ball in his hands.
Eric Morriss continues to prove that he should be on the field more often then he was last season with his hustle plays and tenacious demeanor. Morriss is small but doesn't let size bother him and often uses it to his advantage as he turns larger defenders around with his terrific agility.
Danny Amendola had a good day but wasn't quite as dominant as he had been in the past several practices. He continues to make the tough catch and seems to be perfectly suited to play the Y receiving position, even though he is a little smaller than the Red Raiders last several Y receivers. With the injury to Grant Walker on Monday (strained left knee), Adrian Reese took the majority of the back-up Y snaps and looked outstanding. While he looked un-coordinated at times on Monday, he look very good today and brought in several difficult corner and fade routes during the 1-on-1 portion of practice and also showed a willingness to initiate physical contact with defenders, something that he shied away from at times last year.
In injury news, Todd Walker and Grant Walker were both at practice but did not participate in contact drills. Todd was not wearing pads again and while Grant did have on pads, it appears that the Red Raider medical staff wishes to ensure that Grant is healthy before they let him play again.
Receiver Depth Chart -
Z- Michael Crabtree, Eddie Britton, Landon Hoefer
Y- Danny Amendola, Adrian Reese, (G. Walker Injured)
H- Eric Morris, Kelly Hildebrant
X- LA Reed, Eddie Britton Lyle Leong, Brik Brinker (Todd Walker, injured)
Overall Grade - A, individuals made plays today but the unit as a whole also looked very good and they showed a willingness to do whatever they had to do to ensure that they could get as much yardage after the catch as possible.
Offensive Line :
The offensive line had their first awful portion of practice today and Coach Jack Bicknell showed that while he prefers to be an encourager he is perfectly capable of getting after players when they aren't trying their hardest. The o-line was whipped several times during a drill that involves the offensive line, defensive line, tight ends, linebackers, and safeties and Coach Bicknell was completely un impressed by the play of his unit. Bicknell even went so far as to yank the starters from the drill for several reps to ensure that they understood his message. They did and responded beautifully through the rest of practice and were just about as close to perfect as one can be during the 11-on-11 drills. Center Shawn Byrnes and guard/tackle Chris Olson set great blocks for Shannon Woods on a screen and Olson was almost 10 yards down the field opening up the lane for Woods to shoot down the sideline and score.
There seems to be a lack of confidence in Landon Burge as he has been replaced in the second strong line by Stephen Hamby at right guard with Chris Olson playing left guard and Louis Vasquez playing left tackle.
Offensive Line Depth Chart -
Right Guard: Brandon Carter (Injured), Stephen Hamby
Center: Shawn Byrnes, Justin Keown
Left Guard: Louis Vasquez, Stephen Hamby\Chris Olson
Left Tackle: Marlon Winn, Chris Olson/ Louis Vasquez
Overall Grade - B-, while the line looked very good towards the end of practice they looked almost abysmal during one group of drills.
Defensive Line : The defensive line is continuing to gel as a group and receiving contributions from every player on the roster in that position group. The unit played well today as a group and while there weren't many particularly impressive individual efforts, each player on the line did their job well and allowed the linebackers to do theirs.
RaJon Henley continues to look like the star interior lineman and while he is still light at 280 pounds, he hasn't lost any speed since he added 20 lbs in the off season. His first step is explosive and his strength is one of his biggest assets.
Brandon Williams, Sandy Riley, Jake Ratliff, and Philip Jones are the four best ends on the roster and each player bring something new to the mix. Jones is a very strong rusher with good size and fairly good moves while Ratliff is an extremely talented bull rusher (pushing the offensive lineman back and then moving past where he was to the ball carrier). Sandy Riley is showing off very good spin moves and also a well developed bull rush while Brandon Williams seems to be the best pure pass rusher out of the group and with his 6 foot 4 inch tall frame, he shouldn't suffer from size problems like former Red Raider end Keyunta Dawson did on occasion.
Clint Stoffels and Britton Barbee continue to make plays and while Barbee has the greater size, Stoffels has a motor that refuses to quit. Stoffels certainly won't be an every down player unless he gains more weight but his quickness mean that he could be a dangerous interior pass rusher.
Defensive Line depth chart
Strong Side End: Jake Ratliff, Philip Jones, Tyler Yenzer
Defensive Tackle: Brian Jones, Clint Stoffels
Defensive Tackle: RaJon Henley, Britton Barbee (Richard Jones Injured)
Weak Side End: Brandon Williams, Sandy Riley, Tyler Yenzer
Overall Grade - B+, the line did almost everything right today but didn't record many sacks during the 11-on-11 scrimmage. They did however do an outstanding job against the run and while the group is undersized; their speed is becoming quite an asset as they can chase down plays from sideline to sideline and rush the passer extremely well.
Linebackers : The linebackers were good today and the star of the show goes to three separate sophomores, Victor Hunter, Marlon Williams, and Blake Collier. Victor Hunter continues to be a force against the run, Marlon Williams was all over the field hitting anyone that was within reach with the ball, and Blake Collier showed off some serious speed as he recorded the units only sack but also ran step for step with Eric Morriss during the pass skeleton drill and not only tackling the elusive Morriss but also preventing him from holding onto the football with the terrific form tackle.
Brian Duncan had an interception in his hands but dropped it because he had fallen down and was trying to get up to catch the pass. While it doesn't appear that this fall was a planned maneuver, it certainly surprised the quarterback and turned into a good play.
Paul Williams and Kellen Tillman are proving to be very capable players and Tillman is starting to look like a dominant strong side linebacker. While Williams isn't making a ton of plays, he is making the play when he has the opportunity and should be a very good middle linebacker come September.
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-, while they made some good plays they did misplay some screen and draw plays by over-pursuing.
The secondary rebounded from a rocky practice on Monday to turn in one of the better practices of the Spring. De'Shon Sanders, Jamar Wall, and Jordy Rowland all had interceptions while Daniel Charbonnet blew up an attempted screen pass. Darcel McBath absolutely destroyed an end around when he shot through the gap and made a textbook tackle on Eddie Britton.
Jamar Wall continues to be the best corner in camp but De'Shon Sanders and Marcus Bunton are fighting it out for the #2 man while Chris Parker is sidelined with an injury. Sanders did an outstanding job on his interception today by leaping in front of an intended receiver and running the other way with a pass that would most likely have resulted in a touchdown for the "Swarm" defense.
The safeties had a good day and Darcel McBath and Joey Garcia continue to lead the secondary as a veteran should. During practice today the second team safeties were Lance Fuller and Daniel Charbonnet with safety Anthony Hines being unaccounted for during the practice.
In injury news, Brent Nickerson did not practice today and Chris Parker continues to rest what is believed to be an abdominal injury. James "Scooter" Conwright has also been out of practice for several days and continues to rehab his injury.
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
Overall Grade - A, a good day all around, the secondary was burned once by Shannon Woods and once by Michael Crabtree. While they did give up the yardage, both times it seemed that it was just a perfect play by the receiver and quarterback as opposed to anything in particular about the secondary that led to the score.
Now it's time for some awards
Offensive MVP: Edward "Easy Ed" Britton
Defensive MVP: Blake Collier/Marlon Williams
Mr. Underrated: Blake Collier
New Comer of the Day: De'Shon Sanders
Unit of the day: Wide Receivers
Come back Friday for the next RaiderPower Practice report!