April 16th Practice Report

The Texas Tech Red Raiders continued their preparation for the annual Red and Black game with their final practice before taking the field on Saturday. The Red Raiders had a tremendous offensive line during the 2007 season and look to have a strong defensive line coming into 2008. RaiderPower caught up with two of the "big boys" in the trenches in the April 16th practice report.

Texas Tech offensive guard Brandon Carter is by far the biggest offensive lineman on the field for Texas Tech and could arguably be one of the best in the Big XII. Yet Carter doesn't let any of this get in the way of his real objective.

"It kind of gets hard to stay focused, but that's pretty much the main thing you really have to do," Carter said. "Going in every day, it's the same thing every day, but you've got to go in and get better, come out here with a good attitude."

The 350 plus pound Carter spends the majority of his time at guard, though there have been a few experiments at tackle.

"It's kind of an honor to know that [offensive line coach Matt Moore] trusts me at both positions. It's kind of the same, but in a weird way it's a lot different in a way also. Whereever he asks me to be I'll be there and do my best, always make sure that we're right on track."

For the majority of teams in Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, it is a rare occasion to see an offensive lineman down field, and even more rare to see one downfield as often as Carter finds himself blocking defensive players.

"I go hard every play. Screens are one of my favorite things, you're out there on your own going against a safety or something like that, and whenever you get a chance to hit somebody I'm going to take advantage of that. I guess it's kind of a full speed deal: I know what angles to take, I just get out there as fast as I can."

There is a slight personal satisfaction for Carter as he runs downfield, blocking for his fellow Tech players.

"Anytime you can get anyone on the ground that's a great feeling. However big or small they are, especially when you're out there on your own in the open field. Then you make a huge block and you hear the crowd start cheering and everything like that, there's just no other feeling like it."

Rajon Henley and the Red Raider defensive line were a sometimes maligned unit during the 2007 football season, at times seeming like they couldn't stop anything and other times playing like All-Americans.

Heading into his second spring, Henley has already noticed some differences in the play of the defensive line and the defense itself.

"(Spring) has been pretty good, and the defense has been swarming and we're ready for Saturday," Henley said. "It's just a good feeling, you know, Coach Ruff being on us every play, everyday. Just being there, he wants us to take fast steps, take better steps and stuff like that. And we really work hard on that in practice."

The Tech pass rush has been somewhat anemic since former defensive end Adell Duckett was a terror in 2003, but Henley along with the rest of the defensive line have been working to improve that.

"It's the fresh bodies and our work put in after the season. We're really trying to improve our pass rush. A lot of people didn't have outstanding stats, you know sacks, in the season but putting in that work and then getting some extra bodies in there and knowing you can go in there and play and try and make a big play and then come back out, that really helps a lot."

Notable Notes :

- Riley Harvey, a walk-on linebacker, was easily the biggest surprise of the day. Coming over from the scout team because Blake Collier was held out of practice today, he showed off tremendous speed and agility.

- Defensive tackle David Neill had the opportunity to shine during practice today with a tackle for no gain and what would have been a sack on Graham Harrell. With Chris Perry sitting out the latter part of practice because of a minor leg injury, Neill showed off his motor and strength.

- Rashad Hawk had a strong day receiving as did Tramain Swindall, both proving to be terrors to the defensive unit today.

- Shawn Byrnes saw time at left guard with Stephen Hamby at center as Louis Vasquez rested a minor tweak to his left knee. Byrnes continues to look strong inside, and while he isn't as good at guard as he is at center, he was certainly serviceable during practice today.


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