Graham Harrell lead the way for the quarterbacks today, showing off great arm strength and a relaxed poise that one would expect of a leader. Harrell seems to have gotten over his "right side only" issues and did a good job of spreading the ball around to all positions. Harrell is by far the best quarterback on the roster.
Taylor Potts had a solid day of practice but needs to see game time experience before he is considered ready to take the reins of the Air Raid offense. While he does possess a great arm, Potts sometimes puts too much or not enough on a ball and this can lead to passes floating on him. He also seems to check off short when pressured, a tendency that could lead to interceptions for opposing players if Potts doesn't correct it.
Steven Sheffield seems to have added weight during the off season and is no longer deserving of the moniker "Stick". Sheffield continues to make good plays but it seems as if he has a mental lapse that prevents him from making the great play. Sheffield is undoubtedly the fastest quarterback on the field.
Stefan Loucks makes Steven Sheffield look obese. Loucks weighs in at only 163 pounds, at least 30 pounds lighter than what he would need to play in the Big XII. For his first day of practice Loucks didn't do anything terrible wrong, he just didn't do anything terribly right either. There is plenty of potential but Loucks will need the guidance of the older quarterbacks and Head Coach Mike Leach to realize his potential as an Air Raid quarterback. Loucks spent the day with the scout team offense.
Quarterback Depth Chart
Starter: Graham Harrell
Back-Up: Taylor Potts
3rd String: Steven Sheffield
Scout Team: Stefan Loucks
Overall Grade - B+
Not a whole lot to report from the running backs. Since today's practice took place without pads, there was very little contact work. Scout team running back Ryan Hayes did have an extremely nice juke of freshman linebacker Sam Fehoko. Kobey Lewis and Shannon Woods both spent time with the first team as did Baron Batch, who played the entire practice without any sign of an injury.
Jared Flannel and Aaron Crawford were both at practice but spent the majority of the day with the scout team, learning the ropes and figuring out how a Red Raider running back is supposed to play. There has been some speculation that Crawford will see time as a kick returner but the Red Raiders did not practice their kick returns today.
Running Backs Depth Chart
Starter: Shannon Woods
Back Up: Kobey Lewis
Scout Team: Ryan Hayes, Jared Flannel, Aaron Crawford
Overall Grade - B
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
The wide receivers had the expected rust but were able to knock it off fairly early in practice. L.A. Reed showed off very soft hands and an extremely physical style of play, particularly in running the fade route into the end zone. Lyle Leong had several high catches that showcased his high jumping pedigree while Danny Amendola had the catch of the day with a tremendous catch as he was falling down on the far sideline. Michael Crabtree had a quiet day but was steady and looks primed for a big role this coming season.
The diminutive Eric Morris continues to play extremely well and has become a safety valve for all of the quarterbacks, particularly because of his elusiveness and good hands. Tramain Swindall was the only one of the freshman receivers to actually see time with the first offense during 7 on 7 drills, which implies that he is the only one under consideration for serious playing time in the coming season. Ed Britton had a rough start to practice with several drops but promptly made several nice grabs later in practice to redeem himself for his previous drops.
As mentioned in "Quick Hits", Adrian Reese had an incredible day of practice. He showed off soft hands and no longer seems to be affected by a lack of confidence in himself. Reese at one point made a text book catch and was then hauling down the field. While he was not hit because of no pads, he most likely would have run through any of the defensive backs that attempted to stop him. Adam James had a quiet day and it looks as though he will be backing up both Reese and David Schaefer.
Receiver Depth Chart -
Z- Michael Crabtree, Eddie Britton, Landon Hoefer
Y- Danny Amendola, G. Walker
H- Eric Morris, Tramain Swindall
X- LA Reed, Eddie Britton Lyle Leong, Brik Brinker (Todd Walker, injured)
Overall Grade - A-
For a unit that was supposedly decimated by graduation, the starting offensive linemen look extremely polished and work very well together. Shawn Byrnes continues to be the leader of the group and looks like a 5th year senior at center. Louis Vasquez and Marlon Winn have switched spots on the offensive line and so far, it seems to have been a brilliant move by new offensive line Coach Moore. Rylan Reed played extremely well and man-handled freshman David Neill several times during practice while Brandon Carter was an absolute beast, moving anything and everything out of the way when he was asked to.
Chris Olson continues to have the most potential of the younger linemen while Stephen Hamby has maintained his very aggressive mentality from the spring. The biggest surprise of the day, though, was new comer Jake Johnson. The massive offensive tackle is 6 feet 7 inches tall and 369 pounds. While it would seem that someone that size wouldn't be able to move well, Johnson was moving extremely well and looked almost like a clone of Brandon Carter (minus the tattoo's and such). Johnson provides immediate depth at right tackle and could contribute else where across the line if he was needed.
The young players just out of high school spent most of their day with the scout team, although it seems that Lonnie Edwards might the in the best position to receive early playing time. Justin Keown also played well today and looks to have gained weight during the off-season.
Offensive Line Depth Chart -
Right Tackle: Rylan Reed, Jake Johnson
Right Guard: Brandon Carter , Stephen Hamby
Center: Shawn Byrnes, Justin Keown
Left Guard: Marlon Winn, Adrian Archie
Left Tackle: Louis Vasquez, Chris Olson
Overall Grade - B+
While many fans are lead to believe that the Red Raider defensive line will be as porous as it was in 2003, this is simply not going to be the case. While the line is certainly smaller than it has been in years past and including only one 300 + pound player (Bobby Agoucha) there is a speed and quickness to this group the likes of which Tech fans have never seen. While the defensive linemen didn't do much work today because the players were not in pads, the speediness was obviously there as was the drive and fire.
Freshmen David Neill, Colby Whitlock, and Bobby Agoucha all look ready to play, with Neill and Whitlock being in better shape than Agoucha. While Agoucha is down from his 330+ pounds, he needs to lose another 5-10 so that he can increase his endurance and help the Red Raiders on the line in the coming season.
Richard Jones returned to practice after missing the entire spring with shoulder surgery and seemed to be moving extremely well. Brian Jones also shows no side effects of the injury to his left arm a year ago and looks ready to wrestle a bear. Rajon Henley is by far the quickest and most seasoned defensive linemen on the Texas Tech roster and has been allowed to stay at his spring weight of 265 pounds to allow him to take full advantage of his quickness. Similar to the Dallas Cowboys of the early 1990's, look for the Red Raiders line to be able to get after the quarterback and be an asset on stopping screens and other plays outside the hash marks.
Overall Grade - B
The linebackers had a good day in practice and seem ready to start hitting people, even without the pads on. Chad Hill practiced today but seemed to be moving slowly in lateral movement. Marlon Williams stayed in the starting line-up along side Paul Williams and Kellen Tillman. Julius Howard is sporting the number 13 for fall practice and it seems that the light bulb that went on during the Red and Black game still burns bright. Look for Howard to make a push to beat out Ty Linder as the back-up strong side linebacker.
While the roster doesn't indicate that Victor Hunter has lost any weight, he seems to be faster on his feet and at least a little lighter than during fall practice. Hunter continues to be the back-up middle linebacker and should provide solid depth for this season and then an outstanding starting middle linebacker the following year.
Sam Fehoko and Tyrone Sonier have both officially been moved to linebacker and seem to be taking to the change well. It is unlikely that they, or fellow freshman linebacker Bront Bird, will see the field this year but it is a testament to the other players at the linebacker positions that these players will have the chance to develop and learn before being thrown into the heart of the battle.
Linebackers Depth Chart
Weak Side Linebacker: Marlon Williams, Chad Hill, Blake Collier
Middle Linebacker: Paul Williams, Victor Hunter/Marlon Williams, Ryan Hale
Strong Side Linebacker: Kellen Tillman, Ty Linder, Brian Duncan (Injured)
Overall Grade - B+
It seems as if ever year the secondary at Texas Tech is getting better and this is no exception. Jamar Wall, Chris Parker, and Marcus Bunton are already known by the Red Raider faithful as being very good corner backs but Pete Richardson is rapidly moving his way up that last. Brent Nickerson also is making a push to see the field this coming year but will have to fight off a feisty De'Shon Sanders for that opportunity. LaRon Moore is also making a case for playing time as he constantly shows off his speed and agility. While Moore still needs a little more practice before he is up to the level of Wall and company, he is well on his way. Youngster Taylor Charbonnet may be the smallest member of the Red Raiders secondary but he is undoubtedly the fastest with his blazing fast speed being on display several times during today's practice.
Darcel McBath is by far the best defensive back on the Red Raiders roster and could very well be one of the best in the Big XII. His combination of size and speed make him a dangerous presence and in combination with senior Joe Garcia, the two are one of the better safety duo's in the Big XII. Daniel Charbonnet and Anthony Hines are solid back-ups for McBath and Garcia with Lance Fuller capable of filling in at either strong or free safety, depending on the situation. Freshman Franklin Mitchem continues to rehab his leg after injuring it during spring practice last year but he is moving around well on it and should be back to full speed in no time.
Secondary Depth Chart -
Right Cornerback: Chris Parker, Marcus Bunton, 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+
Jonathan LaCour will hopefully not see the field often in the 2007 season, but when he is called upon he has an incredibly strong leg. LaCour looked similar to Alex Reyes today during practice, sending kicks booming 40 and 50 yards. Grant Berg was also punting during practice but was no where near as impressive as the younger LaCour.
In other special teams news, it appears that Danny Amendola will be the holder for the 2007 season with kicker Alex Trilica maintaining his place kicking duties.
Offensive MVP: Graham Harrell/ Adrian Reese
Defensive MVP: Marlon Williams
Mr. Underrated: LaRon Moore
New Comer of the Day: Jake Johnson
Come back tomorrow for the next RaiderPower Practice report!