Graham Harrell had another outstanding day as the starting quarterback and looks to have developed a Kliff Kingsbury type approach to the game of football. Instead of taking a shot down field that has a 50/50 shot of being caught, he takes the 9 yard pass that is a sure thing. He also continues to encourage those around him and seems to have found just the right amount of air for his fade passes as he hit both Michael Crabtree and LA Reed on long deep passes during 1-on-1 drills.
Taylor Potts rebounded from a shaky day yesterday with an outstanding day today. Although his reads still take to long, he is getting faster and showed more confidence as he put the ball down the field. He still threw a few balls into the dirt and led receivers into traffic but seems to have avoided the struggles of the last few days.
Bobby Scott is like Sonny Cumbie. No, it isn't because he is 6'9, he doesn't weigh 240 pounds, and he doesn't run a 5.9 forty time. He does have an exceedingly accurate arm and does an outstanding job with the deep throws. He is also a walk-on that just might push freshman Stefan Loucks for playing time if he is kept around on the team. Scott has showed better accuracy and poise, plus he doesn't look like a bean pole. Loucks also had a good day of practice but his passes are still raw and his arm strength hasn't really been shown. Luckily, Loucks will have several years to work out the kinks in his approach to the game and should be able to become the quarterback that Mike Leach was looking for when he recruited him.
Quarterback Depth Chart
Starter: Graham Harrell
Back-Up: Taylor Potts
3rd String: Steven Sheffield
Scout Team: Stefan Loucks/Bobby Scott
Overall Grade - A
Kobey Lewis received more of the snaps with the starting offense than Shannon Woods did and seems to be using these snaps to the best of his ability. While it is unlikely that Lewis could actually replace Woods as the starter, it appears that he will be ready for a more serious role this coming season and should allow the coaches to seriously consider red shirting both Jared Flannel and Aaron Crawford. Woods ran hard today but didn't have the reps that he had early in the spring. It appears that Coach Leach is still looking for some of that hunger to get him back into last seasons dependable and dangerous running back.
Aaron Crawford has very good hands and once he sees the field, he should be an outstanding running back for the Red Raiders. Jared Flannel is another player that has the potential to be an outstanding running back but he is at least a year in the weight room away from that status. There is also a possibility that he is converted to defensive back if he is willing. Tech has had great success with converted running backs and it seems that Flannel might be the next in line.
Running Backs Depth Chart
Starter: Shannon Woods
Back Up: Kobey Lewis/Baron Batch
Scout Team: Ryan Hayes, Jared Flannel, Aaron Crawford Overall Grade - B+
Wide Receivers/Big H&Y:
LA Reed and Michael Crabtree are bad, bad men. Both players had outstanding days during practice and look ready to contribute in a huge way this year. Crabtree appears to be a combination of Robert Johnson and Joel Filani while LA Reed looks like Jarrett Hicks (sophomore year) and Antoine Page. Both are terrors near the Red Zone and LA Reed is a tremendous blocker on the outside. Eddie Britton also had several nice catches but his case of the drops seems to have returned as he did lose several very easily caught balls today. Once he has the ball though, Britton is nearly impossible to slow down or stop. His shiftiness and acceleration would make him an ideal kick/punt returner.
Danny Amendola and Eric Morris both had good days as they were the safety valves for both Graham Harrell and Taylor Potts. Amendola had several nice seam route catches while Morris had a terrific diving catch that would have given the offense a first down. Tramain Swindall and Detron Lewis have been moved into the two deep and seem to be finished spending their time with the scout team. Both need to continue to work on their hands and Swindall could use another 20 pounds added to his frame to be ready for Big XII play. It appears that the coaches are going to try and develop these two as interior depth. Swindall in particular seems to be getting a crash course in the Y receiving position since both Danny Amendola and Grant Walker will graduate at the end of this year. Kelly Hildebrandt had a nice day with several clutch catches, even though he is still working with the scout team.
Rashad Hawk and Jacoby Franks look to have been set to red shirt status already, spending their entire day with the scout team to help give the defense the needed practice. This isn't a knock on theses two players but it is instead an indication of how good the players in front of them actually are.
Grant Walker was not in pads today after tweaking a knee yesterday but it doesn't appear to be as serious as Todd Walker's injury.
Receiver Depth Chart -
Z- Michael Crabtree, Eddie Britton, Landon Hoefer
Y- Danny Amendola, G. Walker (Injured), Tramain Swindall
H- Eric Morris, Detron Lewis
X- LA Reed, Eddie Britton Lyle Leong, Brik Brinker (Todd Walker, injured)
Overall Grade - B+
The guards and centers had a dominating day. Brandon Carter and Marlon Winn are going to go down in Red Raider history as one of the most intense duo of guards to ever wear the double T. Throw in Shawn Byrnes and you have an outstanding interior line. Lonnie Edwards continues to see time with the second string offense and Stephen Hamby played every position across the interior line today, even taking some snaps at center. Justin Keown seems to have benefited immensely from his extra semester in Lubbock as he is leaps and bounds ahead of all the freshmen that have just report in May.
Rylan Reed had an excellent day and has yet to give up a sack during practice. Considering that this is only the second day of pads that doesn't say much but he is still doing extremely well for a player that spent his first season in Lubbock as a tight end. Louis Vasquez was bested for the first time during fall practice as sophomore defensive end Brandon Williams rushed outside to sack quarterback Graham Harrell. Although he did allow a sack, Vasquez seems to be doing much better at left tackle this year than he did during the 2006 football season. Chris Olson looks like an all-star in the making and a future star at left tackle in the mold of Daniel Loper. Olson is quiet and unassuming but once he starts after the snap he becomes a terrifyingly dangerous left tackle with an intensity about him that just might scare small children.
All the freshmen except Lonnie Edwards were with the scout team. Only one of the younger players stood out but not for the right reasons. Jerrod Gooch was beaten inside by transfer defensive end Brandon Sharpe but with additional work from Coach Moore he should be able to harness his potential and prevent that from happening.
Offensive Line Depth Chart -
Right Guard: Brandon Carter , Stephen Hamby, Dominique Delpeche
Center: Shawn Byrnes, Justin Keown, Blake Emert
Left Guard: Marlon Winn, Adrian Archie/Lonnie Edwards, Landon Burge
Left Tackle: Louis Vasquez, Chris Olson, Jerrod Gooch
Overall Grade - A-
Defensive Line :
The defensive line had an outstanding day, particularly from the interior tackles. Rajon Henley had an outstanding tackle for loss on running back Kobey Lewis while Clint Stoffels forced several plays outside. Richard and Brian Jones are two of a kind and solid as a rock against the run. Brian Jones seems to have finally put it all together and could provide a serious threat coming off of the bench next season. The star of the show was undoubtedly young Colby Whitlock, who seems to have become Ruffin McNeil's pet project. Whitlock is raw but explodes off of the ball and plays extremely low with great pad level. Whitlock went so far as to chase a play completely outside and still get in on the tackle. It appears that he has the best chance of any of the freshmen for early playing time. Whitlock is wearing number 93 and as mentioned in Quick Hits, it appears that he is doing his best to emulate Chris Hudler.
The defensive ends had a good day as Jake Ratliff and Brandon Williams were the starters with Sandy Riley and Phillip Jones taking the majority of the back-up time. Tyler Yenzer looks to be ready to contribute but he isn't quite a rush end in speed and isn't quite big enough to be a strong side end in size. Brandon Sharpe and Daniel Howard are both adapting quickly to their roles and Sharpe looks like a cross between Adell Duckett and Keyunta Dawson. Howard is more along the lines of Brett Bischofberger, albeit slightly smaller. It is possible that Howard red shirts to help with depth in coming seasons but he could also be a valuable linebacker with his speed.
Bobby Agoucha and David Neill aren't having bad practices but they aren't quite ready to take on Big XII level competition. This isn't to say they won't see the field this coming season, but they may need more practice time before the coaches make this evaluation.
Overall Grade - A-
The starting linebackers had a good day as Kellen Tillman and Marlon Williams both laid massive hits on Adrian Reese. Paul Williams was right in the middle of things in the running game and the speed that everyone was drooling over during the 2005 season.
Blake Collier had the best hit of the back-up linebackers as he destroyed Eric Morris on a curl route. Julius Howard is another solid prospect and he along with Collier are playing in the 3-4 defense to get more speed on the field without sacrificing a linebackers size. This could just be a test to see if it is feasible to keep them both on the field but it has worked well up to this point.
Bird, Sonier, and Fehoko are still on the scout team as it appears this is a move that will stick for the season.
Linebackers Depth Chart
Weak Side Linebacker: Marlon Williams, Julius Howard, Blake Collier, Chad Hill (injured)
Strong Side Linebacker: Kellen Tillman, Ty Linder, Brian Duncan (Injured)
Overall Grade - B+
Darcel McBath and Joe Garcia had very good days as did back-up Anthony Hines. Safety Daniel Charbonnet is making hustle plays that will get him on the field, even though he doesn't have ideal size as a safety. Lance Fuller has had a quiet spring but it is extremely rare for someone to throw to his side of the field. Whether this is due to his coverage or coincidence is still up in the air.
Corners Chris Parker and Jamar Wall could be two of the surest tacklers on the entire team. Neither corner is afraid to come up and make a play against the run, even if they need to go through someone to make the play. Marcus Bunton suffered a mild injury to his left leg/groin after getting caught in a play that he wasn't supposed to be in. He was up and moving later in practice so there wasn't any reason for serious concern. Pete Richardson continues to have a solid fall practice and will make a hard push for playing time this year. It seems that every time De'Shon Sanders does something right he does something wrong as well. If he can be consistent, he could surprise many fans this coming season. LaRon Moore didn't practice today due to an off the field injury but it appears that he is just sore and should be back in the near future.
Secondary Depth Chart -
Right Cornerback: Chris Parker, 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+
Special Teams : LA Reed, Edward Britton, Michael Crabtree, Shannon Woods, and LaRon Moore have been back to return kick-offs so far this fall. It appears that the final decision on returns will not be made until later in practice.
Now it's time for some awards
Offensive MVP: Michael Crabtree
Defensive MVP: RaJon Henley/Brandon Williams
Mr. Underrated: Stephen Hamby
New Comer of the Day: Colby Whitlock
Come back tomorrow for the next RaiderPower Practice report!