LUBBOCK, Texas — It's been a rough couple of weeks this season for the Red Raiders as they prepare for the second scrimmage on Saturday and will be just two weeks away from their opening game against SMU.
Wide receiver/punt returner Austin Zouzalik is recovering from an emergency appendectomy last week.
The biggest hit came when Tech found out it would miss one more player for the rest of the season when junior defensive back Jared Flannel went down with a torn achilles — the same injury as another Red Raider earlier in camp, Britton Barbee.
Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville said on Friday the team would be missing "two or three guys," for Saturday's scrimmage but did not name them. He also mentioned his frustration on Friday with not being able to again keep things consistent this week.
"I think we're on track," Tuberville said. "But this guy will miss this practice and then this guy misses — there's just not a lot of continuity. That's the only thing I'm disappointed with."
Needless to say, Zouzalik will be unavailable for the second team scrimmage as well as sophomore running back Harrison Jeffers, who suffered a concussion on Tuesday.
It's been the biggest challenge thus far for Tuberville and his staff as they prepare the team for their first season together. Part of the grueling fall workouts has been not just adjusting to the West Texas heat, but also trying to get in the best game-shape the team has ever been in before.
It's physical and tiring, but that's what this staff demands in order to see results this season from a young defense and an experienced offense — both adjusting to new schemes.
"It should be a better scrimmage this week," Tuberville said. "Just because mentally we know what to do and how to do it.
"Tomorrow's a big quarterback day. We're interested to see what happens. As everybody knows, last week, Taylor did better than Sheffield. But that's just one area we are looking at. We're also looking at three or four other positions. Kicking game will be huge (Saturday) in terms of our punters, there's competition there between those two guys, snappers — we're just looking for continuity. There's a few guys that won't do much just because I already know what they can do and they know what to do. So we'll play a few backups at some positions.
Offensive coordinator Neal Brown has been happy, for the most part, with his deep group of receivers through the first two weeks. In fact, there have been a number of wideouts mentioned on his "well-performed" list on his Twitter page the past couple of days. Among the names, Tramain Swindall, Cornelius Douglas, Jacoby Franks, Adam James, Ben McRoy, Eric Ward and of course, Alex Torres.
Franks has been one of the best surprises for both Tuberville and his staff, seeing maturity and physical improvement by a player who even admitted himself that he was selfish at times last season.
"I'm a team player, it's not all about me anymore," Franks said. "I used to be very selfish. Now I'm a team player and I'm trying to make plays for my team not just me now."
Tech has been a team synonymous with penalties for the last several years, usually showing a lack of discipline on the field. Some have even contributed significantly to the Red Raiders' lost chances on key drives during games. Tuberville has expressed his distaste for the penalties, much like he has for the amount of sacks last season, but gave praise to the players for the way they handled it in last week's scrimmage.
"They did well," Tuberville said. "I even complained to the officials that they didn't call enough. We really had a good day as far as procedure penalties and lining up onsides, turnovers were very limited. So I didn't have a lot to complain about in that area."