Saturday Practice Report

The Texas Tech Red Raiders had their last open practice of Fall camp 2009 today under a blisteringly hot West Texas sun at Jones AT&T stadium. One big name player returned to the field for practice today as open practice wound down. Come inside for the final RaiderPower practice report from Saturday, August 22, 2009.

Practice Observations

Texas Tech has had some very talented linebackers in the last several decades, and while the current starting group might not be the best they are right up there. Brian Duncan and Marlon Williams both had strong days of practice while Bront "Birdman" Bird had a good day as well. It seems that the coaching staff is going to use Bird more and more as a pass-rush specialist in the Jet formation, allowing him to either blitz in a "Joker" back type role or drop into coverage as a traditional linebacker.

• Perhaps the best news of camp took place today as Baron Batch was back in pads and allowed to participate in various portions of practice. While he did not play in the team drill, he did warm-up and at one point ran into the wall in the North West corner of the stadium without any visible pain or discomfort.

Batch continues to wear the massive brace on his left arm but it appears that he will miss very little, if any, time this season.

• Stephen Sheffield has officially won the back-up quarterback job as he was the only quarterback outside of Taylor Potts to take any snaps with the starting or second team units.

Eric Stephens had one of his most impressive touchdown runs of camp today as he ran into a wall of defenders right before cutting back to the left to score. Harrison Jeffers had a slightly off day with several dropped passes, though he did run hard.

Will Ford had an outstanding day as did starting safety Franklin Mitchem. Mitchem intercepted a Taylor Potts pass and returned it roughly 25 yards for a touchdown on the second play of the team drill. Mitchem has plaed better and better as the week has progressed.

Brent Nickerson made his first big play of the last week as he broke-up a pass intended for Eddie Britton while Cody Davis laid a serious lick on the senior receiver.

Daniel Howard and Bront Bird were on the field together in the "Jet" formation today to rush the passer. It appears the coaching staff is going to fiddle with the personnel on the field in that formation up until the first game.

Detron Lewis stole the day today with a 30+ yard reception and several outstanding juke moves on screen passes. Lewis, who had struggled some the last week, looked to be in mid-season form. His friend and fellow inside receiver Tramain Swindall, was not. Swindall was working with the scout team offense for the entire practice while Rashad Hawk worked with the starting and second string units for the first time this fall.

Chris Olson is going to be the starting left tackle while McDaniel should come off the bench to spell Olson or if Olson is kicked inside as the second center. It is also possible that Brandon Carter could see a little time at left tackle as he saw a little time at right tackle in the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

Austin Zouzalik got several looks as both a kick-off and punt returner. The comparison of the Coronado standout to former Tech great Wes Welker is beginning to seem more and more apt as "Zazoo" forces his way onto the field.

Brandon Sharpe got into it twice with Terry McDaniel during practice today. Sharpe seems to have the inside track at starting on the right side of the defensive line, though his temper could be a concern.

Alex Torres had a good day of practice including an absolutely phenomenal catch against very tight coverage during 1-on-1 drills.

• Brian Mahoney is working with the third string linebackers, but he appears primed for a red shirt this season.

Awards

Offensive player of the day: Detron Lewis

Defensive player of the day: The linebackers


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