LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville and the rest of the coaching staff will get their first chance to measure the quarterbacks and every other position on Saturday when the Red Raiders hold their first team scrimmage out at Jones AT&T Stadium.
The scrimmage is closed to the public and media. No media is allowed to shoot the actual scrimmage, which begins at 10:30 a.m. Practice begins at 10 a.m.
Tuberville and Neal Brown should get plenty of plays in to watch Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield split duties with the first-team offense and maybe get an idea of who is taking the early lead in the quarterback race. Tuberville said he would like to see each player get in 20-30 snaps before rotating in the younger players like Seth Doege, Jacob Karam and Scotty Young.
The coaches and players have all remained pretty silent about the two senior QBs, saying both are showing leadership qualities and the ability to "throw the long ball" and complete passes.
The intangibles will be who avoids turning the ball over and who is able to sustain long drives when the coaches set the offense up deep in its own territory and apply some more pressure on key downs.
"It's going to be full speed," Tuberville said. "We'll move the ball up and down the field like we normally do. We'll have some kicking, some punting, and we'll have field goals and extra points. But we want to get them in a situation where they feel tired and have to play and think. Know the speed of the game. Obviously it will be hot and we'll want to get plenty of looks at out younger guys.
"We'll run the ball some but we won't run the ball with our top running backs much. We want to throw the ball to them some. We want to look more at their protections and teach the younger guys how to play on this level. We need to get a good look at all of our defense and make sure we have guys in the right positions and make sure they are still making decent decisions to this point. We still have a lot to learn."
Here are some of the other battles going on tomorrow:
On the Line
As Tuberville mentioned after Tech's first two-a-days on Thursday, the offensive line is undergoing some shifts in response to better play by specific players through the first week of practice.
Senior Justin Keown has shown promise at center and will get some time in the middle with Chris Olson rotating to another position. Tuberville praised the play of Lonnie Edwards thus far in camp and that sophomore Deveric Gallington has also shown more improvements throughout the week. But no coaches have said that anyone has earned a starting job yet.
The slimmer faster line will probably be doing more downfield and screen blocks in the new, fast-paced NASCAR offense which means coaches will be keeping a close eye on the endurance factor and who can keep from getting too worn out during long drives when they need to concentrate the most.
"All the offensive linemen have done much better, just because of their weight loss," Tuberville said. "They've got a lot more endurance and I think their mental capacity is a lot better just because of being able to go a little bit longer."
The early morning scrimmage will help players a little in staying away from fatigue like Tuberville said some felt following Wednesday's mid-day workout.
There should be plenty of players looking to get more time at the inside receivers position behind Tramain Swindall and Detron Lewis while Austin Zouzalik recovers from his appendectomy that will reportedly keep him out for a few weeks. Cornelius Douglas raised plenty of eyebrows with his breakout plays during spring scrimmages and could be one player to watch on certain packages that would normally include Zouzalik on the left inside slot.
Lewis, Alex Torres and Eric Stephens will each field punts during the scrimmage. It will also be interesting to see who lines up with Eric Stephens on kickoff returns, a spot held by departed cornerback Jamar Wall and Zouzalik last season.
This might actually be the most interesting competition outside of the quarterbacks. Tuberville, who will personally oversee special teams this season, said earlier this week that the punter competition is close and will more than likely go all the way until the final days of fall practices before a starter is named. He wants to take the overall average of both Jonathan LaCour and Ryan Erxleben into consideration before he decides.
LaCour, who Tuberville said would have been the starter if it was based on the spring, has looked solid in practices so far, booming kicks more than 50 yards downfield with solid hang time.