Spring Game Thoughts

From the "arms" race at quarterback to a possible embarrassment of riches at running back and a return of the "swarm" type defense, guest columnist Stephen Johnson gives his assessment and the low down on all facets of the team and the 2010 Red/Black game.

Spring Game Thoughts

The arms race:
Both Seth Doege and Jacob Karam had their chances the last two weeks to show their worth for Texas Tech and a possible starting QB position. This was the most fun for me to watch Saturday and it didn't disappoint. Doege played about as well as he did in the Kansas game. He showed a lot of talent putting footballs in the wide receivers' hands, but also showed the tendency to miss spots, ala Kansas. The middle crossing routes, which one would assume would be based off timing, seemed to challenge him the most. He did, however, make some beautiful corner passes, one notably to Austin Zouzalik.

Karam impressed me with his arm strength and ability to get the ball out of his hands quickly. I thought he showed a quick release and a smooth motion from taking the ball to getting it out of his hands.

The headliners:
There is no doubt that Alexander Torres is going to be the leading receiver for this team next year. They targeted him the most yesterday and it paid off. He has excellent body control as well he always seems to find space on the quick out passes. Eric Ward is another receiver that has great body control and looks to be poised for a breakout, if we can call it that, season after redshirting this past season. He ultimately didn't end up with a huge stat sheet, but was targeted a few other times with the ball sailing over his head. Tramain Swindall needs to be preached a little more on ball security, but along with Detron Lewis the inside WR looks to be the stronger group of receivers.

Cornelius Douglas had the best day in my eyes. He was able to run across the field on a Karam pass, catch it near the sideline, break a Terrance Bullitt tackle and run for about 60 yards for the TD. For a player that didn't get a chance to shine last year, this season will be crucial for Douglas so he makes sure he isn't passed on the depth chart by incoming talent in the next few seasons.

Embarrassment of riches?
The running back situation is turning out to be a good complication for the coaching staff. You would have to think Baron Batch will get the majority of snaps, but a guy that impressed the hell out of me yesterday was Aaron Crawford. He seems to have everything that Neal Brown is looking for in a back; great hands with a tough running style that will get them the extra yard they might need. The guy who is getting overlooked this year seems to be Eric Stephens. He had an absolutely brilliant freshman campaign last year. His touches were limited in the Spring Game and barring injury to one of the other three RBs, Stephens will have a tough time seeing the field this season. This is a good problem.

I heard a rumor.
Harrison Jeffers has a fumbling problem. Can anyone confirm this? Jeffers put the ball on the ground a few times on Saturday and that will stop him from being as effective as he could be in this offense. He's obviously a different style of runner with speed to burn, but if he continues to handle the ball loosely then I don't have a problem with him riding the bench.

Improvement is needed!
The offensive line was woeful at best on Saturday. Although they are still very young, it seemed to me the only time a big running play sprung was when a back, notably Crawford and Batch, made a dashing move to get to the next level. This line struggled early last season and I fear this coaching staff is going to find it hard to put five trustworthy guys that they can reasonably expect to get you that yard you need on 3rd and 1. Although LaAdrian Waddle had a couple of false starts, he was able to absolutely man handle anyone that was thrown his way. Beau Carpenter ran with the second team and didn't seem to have any trouble protecting Karam. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Carpenter will start at least 3 games this year as your right tackle.

Should we still call it the Swarm?
Now, you may wonder why I'm not breaking the defense down into groups. Well, it's simple really. They kept the defense so vanilla that it was hard to break down each position group. Though, Brian Duncan had a great day rushing from the outside. I thought he had the best day out of all the players for James Willis's defense. LaRon Moore was also having a great day before he left with an injury in the second quarter. Terrance Bullitt looked like a freshman out there at times and struggled to make wrap up tackles, but also laid a lick on Douglas.

The one improvement I have seen from last year was how fast the defense reacted when the ball was caught. Instead of one or two guys around making a tackle there was always 4 or 5 guys right around the ball carrier and did not let a lot of extra yards after the ball was caught. It was unfortunate we weren't able to see how many different formations this defense will showcase, but if this is a start I cannot wait for the finish. When Colby Whitlock, Myles Wade are healthy and Scott Smith and Jackson Richards step foot on campus, this defense is going to showcase a lot of two and three man fronts. We are going to blitz people and those are words I've waited forever to hear!


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