LUBBOCK, Texas — The day was finally here.
Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville and the Red Raiders opened fall practices on Saturday with a new look and new attitude that the players and coaches have spent the majority of the offseason talking about.
Now it's time to show it on the practice field.
The Red Raiders went through practice without pads for the first time since April and did it while dealing with temperatures that exceeded 100 degrees on the turf of Jones AT&T Stadium.
"It's about completely back," Sheffield said. "It gets sore at times but nothing ibuprofen or Tylenol can't fix."
Sheffield and Potts will continue to split the snaps evenly until a starter is named before the Sept. 5 kickoff against SMU. There is no timetable for when that starter might be named but Tuberville said it was comforting to see both guys out there practicing rather than just talking about the QB decision.
"It's good to have them back," Tuberville said. "They looked pretty good. Both of them are fired up about competing. And I like the young guys. They're doing well too. Everybody will get a lot of reps through the first few days and then after the first scrimmage (Aug. 14), we'll start cutting it back."
Potts, known for his light demeanor and laid back attitude, took the wisdom of his coaches into perspective just before the Red Raiders began practices this weekend.
"The coaches were talking in the office this morning before we started our team meetings," Potts said. "They said, ‘You think you guys have it rough? Trying to decide who will be the starting quarterback this season? We have people in Iraq and overseas dying every day. Those guys have it rough. That's a tough deal. That's pressure and a pressure situation.'
"So he kind of put everything in perspective. So I'm just going to come out here and have fun. Obviously I'm going to try my best and try to lead this team. But like he said, it's not pressure out here at all. So if I put any more pressure on myself, it's just going to interfere with what I'm doing. It's a game and I'm going to enjoy it and make it a game. I'm not going to add anything or take anything else away from it."
Both appeared to handle all the drills easily as they each worked through the two-hour practice. Potts took the majority of snaps with the first-team offense while Sheffield will get the chance to start things off on Sunday with the first teamers.
Sheffield, also known as "Sticks" by his teammates, is sporting a special shoe designed by Under Armour to help keep his ankle safe. He looked pretty comfortable in passing drills and maneuvered around the offensive line on an option-read play. Sticks let everyone know how hard he has worked during offseason workouts. He will keep the nickname but has been able to add about 20 or 25 pounds since the start of last season. He said he is currently about 197.
"It's good to come out here and show the coaches all the hard work that we've put in while they haven't been around," Sheffield said. "(The weight) is something I'm still fluctuating around quite a bit. I'll get up and then drop back down to the high 190s or mid 190s. But I think if I keep eating like I should and keep working out through the workout periods its something that will transition really well. It's a big difference from where I was playing last season at around 180 or 175."
Beating the Heat
It's hard enough when you have to practice in the Texas heat during the month of August. Add in a steamy turf field and temperatures easily feel at least 110 degrees. So the coaches switched to white helmets this year to help beat some of the West Texas heat during practices. One source inside Tech athletics said that is the only white helmet the team plans on wearing this season, despite the rumor and pictures of a white Texas Tech game helmet to be used this season.
The offensive line will be one of the areas coaches and fans will be pay attention to as the fall practices develop. On Saturday the first team looked as so: LaAdrian Waddle (LT), Lonnie Edwards (LG), Chris Olson (C), Deveric Gallington (RG), Terry McDaniel (RT).
The receiving corps also got plenty of work, as well. Alex Torres continues to make catch after catch and was matched by inside wide receiver Detron Lewis, who said he is feeling better than even after spending last season with a lingering hamstring injury.
Inside receiver Adam James is adjusting to his new role, spending part of the time as a tight end as well as at the slot position.
Hanging It Up
Brandon Mahoney and Yashua Williams are not on the active roster and will not be on it the rest of the season, according to coach Tuberville.
"Just medical problems and one of them had some personal problems," Tubervile said. "They're still going to be in school but they decided that it was time to give it up and just work on their academics."
Sunday's 3:45 p.m. practice will be the last chance for fans to see the Red Raiders in action until further word is received from Tech athletic communications. The announcement came earlier in the week after Tuberville and others decided that practices would remain closed to the public while more plays are put in each day. Fans can see the team practice for the full two hours and should enter Jones AT&T on the Southwest corner and sit in the stands.