Red Raiders take the field

The Texas Tech Red Raiders took to the practice field for the first official Fall practice of the 2008 season. RaiderPower was there, bringing you highlights, quotes, information on an old player at a new position, and Head Coach Mike Leach at his best with a new offensive formation. Come inside for this jam packed report on the Red Raiders' first practice.

New Formation

We have a special new wrinkle in Coach Leach's offense. It is called "The Elf," as it's aptly named after its primary threat.

Basically, it's a zone read out of a two-back set. Alongside Graham, there was generally an F-back on his right and a receiver on his left.

The interesting part came at the snap. The receiver would run a misdirection to the right and take the direct snap, with the tailback crossing in front of him. This gave the receiver the option to hand off to the running back or pull it back out and run it himself.

The personnel was also interesting. We saw Aaron Crawford, Baron Batch, and Shannon Woods fill in at the F-back spot, while Eric Morris and Michael Crabtree were the ones taking the snaps on the other side.

This had everyone excited because the possibilities were endless. Morris could be motioned back out into the slot to run a normal play if Graham reads the defense coming on the blitz.

Crabtree could become a dual-threat QB. Both players could run routes to the flats. There are so many things we could do, which makes it that much tougher to defend. It works to our strengths, and gets the ball in the hands of our playmakers.

Needless to say, it caused quite a buzz. Make no mistake, this isn't just something that the coaches are tinkering around with. They practiced it way too much and devoted an entire "ball security" portion of practice to running it smoothly.

This will almost certainly be seen in games. Personally, I hope we try and keep this under wraps until conference play to maybe keep up the element of surprise.

Regardless, it was a fun new little element which showed everyone that Leach still has some tricks up his sleeve, and hopefully ensures that the offense can be even more unstoppable for what could be our best year ever.

News & Notes

L.A. Reed was expected to see playing time at safety this season. He may see playing time, but it will almost certainly NOT be at safety. L.A. Reed was working as the starting right cornerback with the starting defense. While Reed is sporting a small cast on his right hand/forearm he looked absolutely tremendous at cornerback and became the immediate favorite to start at that position.

While not notching any interceptions, Reed's combination of speed and size were difficult to throw against and he broke extremely well on the ball throughout all of practice.

Lyle Leong had a tremendous day. Not only does he have tremendous footwork near the sidelines, but he also goes after the ball, regardless of where it is thrown. He will be difficult to keep off of the football field. Leong spent most of the Spring working behind Edward Britton at the X position, it appears that he has moved back behind Michael Crabtree at Z.

Rashad Hawk appears to have shaken off the somewhat difficult time that he had catching the ball during the spring and is now the second X receiver behind Edward Britton. Hawk has some of the same characteristics that were noticed early during Michael Crabtree's career combined with a frame that is nearly two inches taller.

Brandon Sesay was wearing a Texas Tech jersey for the first time today, and it was quite a sight to see. Sesay is every bit as tall as he was reputed to be and looked like a multi-year veteran. While it is difficult to determine a defensive lineman's skill without pads on, it appears that Sesay could be a very special player.

Blake Collier and Brian Duncan were both very active in the linebacker corps today. Duncan is one of the leaders, not only of the linebackers but of the entire defense as he broke up a fight between L.A. Reed and Ed Britton while Collier looked outstanding playing weak-side linebacker. It appears that the light has come on for Collier and that he should see more playing time this season.

Detron Lewis continues to look tremendous during practice and should be a pleasant surprise this season. While perhaps not as elusive as Michael Crabtree, Lewis is somewhat faster in the open field and will be an asset playing alongside Crabtree.

Adam James looked solid today and has the potential to be a very intriguing red zone threat for the Air Raid offense this season.

• Eric Morris simply cannot be stopped with 10 yards of the goal line, there is absolutely no way to do it. He cuts on a dime and makes anyone covering him look absolutely silly, to the point that he made practice –squad safety Brett Dewhurst trip over himself.

Texas Tech
Keown and Carter wrestling after practice
Brandon Carter and Justin Keown got into what can only be described as a wrestling match as practice was concluding. While it appeared that the larger Carter would easily subdue his smaller counterpart, Keown ended up winning this impromptu match.

However, Carter was sandbagged because he was unaware that Keown was a wrestler in high-school.

• Freshman kicker Donnie Carona looked solid today, though he looked better kicking from 40 yards and beyond than he did kicking from 40 and closer. His leg strength is not a question, which is a huge asset because accuracy can be taught.

Former Tech punter Alex Reyes was working with Carona during practice, providing valuable experience and advice to the young lefty kicker.


Offensive player of the day: Eric Morris

Catch of the day: Lyle Leong

Defensive player of the day: Brian Duncan

Defensive play of the day: L.A. Reed tackling Ed Britton, without pads.

Quote of the day: "God, that's nasty," left guard Louis Vasquez, when looking at a shirtless Brandon Carter.

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