Veteran Leadership On Display

Texas Tech has a plethora of starters returning on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Marlon Williams and Darcel McBath were both starters during the Red Raiders Gator Bowl campaign a year ago and are back for more. RaiderPower caught up with these two returning defensive starters in the April 9th practice report.

Marlon Williams has gone from a young, and often times lost, linebacker to one of the smartest and most athletic linebackers on the Texas Tech roster, though not even he could change the dreary work-out conditions today.

"I felt good man, it wasn't that great of a day," said Williams, with a gesture to the overcast sky, "but I came out, made some plays, and just do what I do."

Williams modest claim of "just do what I do" doesn't fully convey the newfound spotlight that he has stepped into, not just of the linebackers but of the entire defense.

"I have to be on top of my game everyday because everybody's watching me. If I make a mistake then everyone's going to see me make the mistake," Williams said.

"So, it just puts that extra role on me to be the leader, to be the guy that's getting people lined up, to be the guy that when the play's on me to be sure that I make that play."

Williams did lead from the front today as he was very vocal in teaching some of the younger linebackers while he also made several great plays himself, including a pass break-up and near interception during the pass skeleton portion of practice.

"When the play is on me, I try to make a play so I can make the other guys excited."

Darcel McBath is one of two returning starters in the defensive secondary, along with junior cornerback Jamar Wall. McBath is one of longest tenured starters on the Red Raider Defense, having accumulated 26 starts up to this point in his career.

McBath has noticed some changes since his first start, particularly between the players themselves.

"We are definitely communicating a lot more, we're a lot more vocal. We know what everyone is going to do, in the secondary, the linebackers, the d-line," said McBath. "We have to, with all the blitzes that we're putting in. It just keeps you on your toes, it keeps you alert."

McBath had been paired for the last two seasons with strong-safety Joe Garcia and now finds himself in search of a new partner at the safety position.

"We can't replace Joe, Joe is one of my good friends and one of the best safeties that I've ever played with. But we've got some guys who are willing to step-up, make plays, throw their body on the line to knock anybody out."

One of the potential starters at strong safety is converted wide-receiver LA Reed, who's transition to safety started near the end of the 2007 regular season.

"LA could probably play any position on the field, I mean he's a great athlete. He's picking it up really quickly and I think by the end of the spring he'll be ready."

He's just such a smart player and such a smart guy, there's no replacement for energy and hustle on the football field."

Notable Notes :

- Defensive end Brandon Williams showed off his speed and quickness today during the team portion of practice. During a certain defensive package, Williams was allowed to stalk around the field in an upright position and choose where he wanted to blitz from, forcing the offense to account for one more defensive wrinkle.

- Ed Britton may be the best downfield blocker on the roster. Britton hit Pete Richardson hard enough that it made a clearly heard smacking sound and drew a round of cheers, or boos, depending on which side of the ball was louder at that particular moment.

- Justin Keown, having moved from center to left guard, continues to impress with a great run and block for Kobey Lewis on a screen during the team portion of practice.

- Shannon Woods got the start during the team portion of practice, though Baron Batch appeared to have the best day overall of the running backs.

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