Questions Heading Into Fall Practice

Heading into fall practice, Tommy Tuberville and Texas Tech have a few questions offensively and defensively that will need answering prior to the September 5th opener with SMU. Below is a sampling of these questions and a possible answer to each issue.

5. Does Texas Tech have enough depth along the defensive line to last through the season?

The short answer is Tech fans better hope so. James Willis and the defensive coaches are impressed with the play of redshirt freshmen Kerry Heider and Chris Knighton. The fact that these two are vying for playing time at one end spot should be viewed as a pleasant development . At the DT spot, Tech has heralded yet unproven players in Myles Wade and Donald Langley. To the casual observer, Langley played like a starter all spring so that will be an interesting battle to watch. Nose tackle is rock-solid with seniors Colby Whitlock and Britton Barbee. At the other end, senior Brian Duncan leads the charge, followed by another redshirt in Aundrey Barr. Top JUCO signee, Scott Smith, will figure heavily into Tech's plan on the line. The question is whether he'll overtake a starter or be a role player.

4. Who are the leading candidates at Running Back?

If you listen to the coaching staff, it's clear that Baron Batch and Eric Stephens are the top two. However, this spring showed us more than just a few reasons to be excited about Harrison Jeffers and Aaron Crawford. Both had their moments in the sun and neither is going to be ignored during the 2010 season.

3. What's the situation with the defensive backfield?

This is perhaps the most troubling situation facing the defense. The injury to assumed starter LaRon Moore adds uncertainty to a group that is already thin on depth. At left corner, Redshirt Jarvis Phillips leads sophomore D.J. Johnson after a great spring. Cody Davis has one safety spot locked up. He'll be backed up by junior Brett Dewhurst. Senior Franklin Mitchem anchors the other safety spot. Terrance Bullitt will be the backup. At right corner, the season will begin with sophomore Will Ford in front of the recovering LaRon Moore. Because of his experience, it would be nice to see Moore fully healthy and able to start some games. With the wide open offenses of the Big 12, Tech will likely also give serious consideration to playing 2010 signees Urell Johnson and Tre'Vante Porter.

2. How will Tech's players adjust to Defensive Coordinator James Willis' aggressive style?

ESPN Big 12 blogger David Ubben openly questioned Tech's ability to play Willis' style of defense. To put it bluntly, he's underestimating the Red Raiders here. Tech fans will likely see a more opportunistic defense than what's been fielded in the recent past. Senior LB Bront Bird had this to say about Willis in an interview with the Austin American Statesman's Kirk Bohls following the spring game: ""He's an aggressive guy. It's amazing how knowledgeable he is. We're definitely going to make a name for ourselves this year. I'm excited." Certainly, Willis has a more daunting task than does offensive coordinator Neal Brown, but to doubt a coach of Willis' ability and background is foolish.

1. Who will be the Red Raiders' starting QB?

Reading between the lines, Tuberville's two-week postponement of spring practice might have been a subtle hint that he was eager for Steven Sheffield to heal and be able to show his full set of skills. However, the unfortunate injuries to both Sheffield and Taylor Potts did not allow for such a competition. However, what a great luxury to have! There are several teams within the conference that would love to have Tech's QB duo on the roster. With both gunslingers on the mend and as healthy as they've been since injury, this is a tough call. It's probably a dead even tie at this point.

One thing is certain: Tommy Tuberville is putting his stamp on the talent assembled in Lubbock. It's going to be an interesting season for the Red Raiders. Stay tuned To for the best in Tech sports coverage!

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