April 14th Practice Report

The Texas Tech Red Raiders spent the afternoon practicing under beautiful conditions with both the offensive and defensive units having a strong practice. RaiderPower was there to cover all of the action and caught up with two of the up-and-coming offensive linemen in the April 14 practice report.

Left tackle Mickey Okafor's nickname is "The Rookie", which seems fitting considering that Okafor is only a red-shirt freshman. However, when playing, Okafor doesn't look like a rookie at all.

"I was never a left tackle, I was always a right tackle so I've got to get my feet right," Okafor said, helmet in hand. "They bring a lot of blitzes to the left side, it's different from the right."

The 6 foot 7 inch tall, 325 pound freshman has taken almost every snap at left tackle since the start of spring practice with the first team, and has shown very consistent, and noticeable improvement each day.

"At the beginning, it was tough man, going against B Will (right defensive end Brandon Williams). I mean, he's pretty fast," Okafor said with a grin on his face. "I'm young, I don't know steps, after a while you kind of watch it on film and see it. ‘Ok, I'm gonna change that' and see what happens. Change it and something good happens then you have to change it again."

While Okafor has excelled on the field, he is certainly not one to sing his own praises.

"I'm not really talkative, out on the field I never talk. I'm not like the rest of them, I like to go out there and handle my business."

Chris Olson saw limited playing time during the 2007 season, primarily because of the great health of the players ahead of him on the depth chart and because of the emergence of Stephen Hamby as the primary interior offensive line substitute.

With Rylan Reed, Jake Johnson, Lonnie Edwards, and, most recently, Dominique Delpeche sitting out, Olson has advanced rapidly up the depth chart in his second spring as a Texas Tech Red Raider.

"It's just trying to get work done, get better for the fall, just trying to compete for a position and having fun with all the guys.

Olson is taking on some of the characteristics that make a great offensive lineman in showing off his versatility, taking snaps at both guard and tackle spots.

"I like both of them. I like being a guard because when we run the ball it gets a lot more physical," Olson said, "but then being a tackle and pass protection you have to be a lot more athletic because there are a lot of quick guys out there."

Olson and the offensive line had a tough spring last year, and the added depth has brought a whole new dimension to this year's team.

"Last year was horrible compared to this year because we'd have to do everything. You'd really get no plays off but now the ones will go in, the twos will rotate in, and then you have the scout team guys."

Olson has had occasion to play next to Brandon Carter when Carter is at right tackle, and has seen some humorous things with Carter at that position.

"That's just funny, you know. At guard sometimes just not having anybody to block when it's an odd defense, just watching him kill people. It's pretty funny and it keeps me entertained and it keeps me motivated so I can try to be like him."

Notable Notes :

- LA Reed continues to dominate at strong safety with a punishing stop of Aaron Crawford today and what would have been a knockout hit, had practice been a live game, on Lyle Leong.

- Marlon Williams had another strong day of practice and continues to be the motivator and leader of the defense. Williams has the respect of both the offense and the defense, possibly lining him up for a team-captain spot this coming season.

- Adam James seems to be flourishing with increased reps as Eric Morris continues to rest a minor injury. Blake Kelly has also had a strong several days working as the second H receiver with Morris out.

- Rashad Hawk seems to have gotten over the hill of his struggles for the past several practices. When Hawk uses both his brain and body in concert, he is almost as difficult to stop as Crabtree was this time last year.

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