Catching On

The Texas Tech Red Raiders practiced in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts again Thursday at Jones AT&T stadium under a half-moon and refreshing breeze. With young players including wide receiver Detron Lewis improving by the day and the defense showing more fire and intensity than ever before, fall practices are shaping up to be extremely interesting. Come inside for the August 7 practice report.

Lewis Catching On

As a true freshman, WR Detron Lewis impressed the coaches enough to earn himself limited playing time at receiver and kick returner. After a very impressive spring, Lewis is projected to start at the Y position and has proven to be one of the best receivers on the team so far in fall practice.

Detron plans on taking full advantage of the extra reps he is getting in practice.

"[Being a starter] is a big difference," Lewis said. "It's more playing time that I didn't get last year as a freshman because of my injuries. I broke my hand. Coming into this year, I had a good spring, I was able to impress the coaches in the spring. Coming into the fall, I'm ready to work and I'm just happy I'm in this position to get to play a lot.

" I feel real good. I feel better than coming in last year coming in as a freshman not knowing what to expect, now I know what to expect. I know that I did good in the spring, pretty good in the spring… I'm just coming into two-a-days, I know what to expect now, so I'm working."

He has some of the biggest shoes on the team to fill, as he is taking over the Y position from graduated senior Danny Amendola, who was an outstanding playmaker for the Red Raiders and especially adept at making the catch in clutch situations. But Detron says he's up for the challenge.

"I'm pretty sure it will be hard [to replace Danny]. I don't want to follow in his footsteps at all; I just want to pick up where he left off, help the team as much as possible."

Lewis has made considerable gains in the off-season, adding a little bulk to his frame and looking much more seasoned than a sophomore who saw limited playing time last year. Coach Leach is especially impressed with his smoothness when running his routes.

"I get in and run my routes a little smoother instead of hesitating or getting caught up…I think I'm a little bigger now. Last year I was about 200 and now I'm 205 so I think that helps me a little bit."

Making defenders miss is key to being effective at the inside receiver position, something that Detron says he is focusing on improving during fall practice.

"You've got to get around the linebackers. You've got to be pretty strong, you've got to have technique because if you don't have any technique, you won't get past the linebackers. That's the first line of defense for us, so you've got to get around the linebackers."

Despite the hype surrounding returning All-American teammate Michael Crabtree, the way Lewis is playing so far this fall, he will definitely turn some heads in the conference. And he has the advantage of being relatively unknown, which should allow him to catch defenders who are focusing on Crabtree off guard.

"Everybody gets their chance, everybody just has to get open. [QB Graham Harrell] reads his keys good, so everybody gets a chance to catch the football. That's what's good about our offense.

"Everybody has responsibilities on the field. You've just got to go out and make plays. If you're number is called in key situation like 3rd and 10… you've just got to go out and make the play."


News & Notes

Edward Britton is, by far, the most improved offensive player of the Fall. While he did have a drop early during practice, he continues to show off much softer hands and his tremendous speed.

Texas Tech
Eric Morris catching balls during punt drills
Eric Morris is trying to replicate what Adam "Pacman" Jones has done, at least as far as catching 6 footballs in punt drills at one time. Morris was able to catch 6 while Jamar Wall caught 5.

• Safety Daniel Charbonnet had what could be considered the best practice of his Texas Tech career. With two interceptions, including a diving pick during the pass skeleton drill, Charbonnet was a man possessed today. Neither the biggest or the strongest, his brains make him a formidable opponent as does his ability to read the offense.

• Sam Fehoko had another very strong day of practice, and seems to be moving into the second team middle linebacker spot sooner than anticipated. While Fehoko did make a few mistakes during Thursday's practice, he made more good plays than bad and is consistently one of the most fired up players on the field.

McKinner Dixon was on the field and did practice. He appeared to be in good spirits and played hard, though he played exclusively with the third team.

• Everything said about Brandon Sesay yesterday was dead on, and while he doesn't look extremely fast he is actually must faster than one would first expect. Sesay sacked quarterback Graham Harrell during team drills, blowing past right tackle Mickey Okafor (Okafor can play both right and left tackle) and recording one of the most physical "touch sacks" to date.

Colby Whitlock chased down a toss to the West sidelines of the Jones and made a great stop of running back Aaron Crawford, much to the applause of his teammates.

Taylor Potts rebounded well with a strong practice, although he did at times wait to long to throw the ball. It seems that when he is settled down, Potts can be as good as he wants to be.

• Young Taylor Charbonnet nearly ended up with an interception that would have unquestionably been a touchdown during the team portion of drills. Charbonnet was playing an intermediate zone and read an out route to his side. While he was in time to break-up the pass, he was only slightly slow on the interception.

Chris Perry had a strong day of practice, as did Sandy Riley. Both continue to work with the second team and the two are a dangerous pair when they stunt or twist poisitions.

Donnie Carona drilled a 45 yard field goal, though he did miss a 52 yarder wide left with the kick falling a few feet short of the cross-bar.

Lonnie Edwards saw time with the second time as Shawn Byrnes played left guard, allowing incumbent starter Louis Vasquez to shift to left tackle. It appears that the coaching staff gave Rylan Reed the day off so that he doesn't push himself to hard.

Texas Tech
Ruffin McNeill's defense was fired up on Thursday.
• Perhaps the funniest moment of any practice to date occurred during a fight between Daniel Charbonnet and Lyle Leong. As the two got into it, the fight escalated and involved most of the offensive players and almost the entire second team defense.

As these groups duked it out in the Southwest corner of the South endzone, defensive end Brandon Williams took off at a trot shouting "GRAHAM!!" and began to close on quarterback Graham Harrell. As Williams did this, Louis Vasquez, the typically reserved offensive linemen looked more like a Secret Service agent as he went to protect Harrell. In the end, Harrell found himself knocked out by a vicious air-punch from Williams.

Austin Zouzalik got his welcome to Division 1 football as he was absolutely clobbered by linebacker Chris Wallace, leaving Zouzalik down on the ground for nearly a minute. Turned out that he just had the wind knocked out of his, though he would do well to not repeat the experience.


Awards

Offensive player of the day: Detron Lewis

Catch of the day: Adrian Reese

Defensive player of the day: Daniel Charbonnet

Defensive play of the day: A group effort in pass-defense that ended up in Brandon Sesay's first recorded sack of the Fall camp.

Quote of the day: "49… 49… 49… 49… If I have to call you again, I'm going to come over there and grab you by the throat", Defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeil, trying to get the attention of freshman kicker Donnie Carona.

"I LIVE FOR THIS!!!!" Junior college transfer Brandon Sesay, as he walked onto the field at Jones AT&T stadium in pads for the first time.



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