LUBBOCK, Texas — Tommy Tuberville has confidence that his players are ready to hit the turf and begin the 2010 season today, if they had to.
"We could play this weekend," Tuberville said after Texas Tech's final fall practice on Wednesday. "But I don't know how focused we would be on everything. There are some things that we want to add after we look at this practice on film.
"We're a little bit away on special teams but we've really picked that up the last few days. We'll have a good weekend of practice. We'll take Monday off, and that's what I do every week because of classes and late labs. Then we'll put our game plans together on Monday and Sunday nights as coaches and then we'll go back to work on Tuesdays."
The Red Raiders will also be off on Thursday, the first day of classes at the university. Tuberville and the players have been treated to several good things over the last couple of days. Weather down in the upper 70s, players returning back to key positions and up-tempo practices showing the progress the team has made since spring workouts began more than four months ago.
But the defensive players aren't exactly satisfied when it comes to practice — especially the younger guys.
They're ready to hit someone in a different uniform.
"It's been a year," Tech redshirt-freshman Aundrey Barr said. "I've been waiting on this. Can't wait for Sept. 5."
So while Tuberville admits his guys are conditioned and ready to go play the Mustangs today, he'll happily take the next 10 days to further evaluate his team and continue to get players healthier.
He was happy to get guys like Tre Porter and Will Ford back in the secondary after both were missing valuable time with minor injuries. Tuberville also has been impressed with the play from freshman Urell Johnson in the secondary and talked about the importance of that group since the first day the coaches walked on campus.
"In this league, you've got to be able to defend the pass," Tuberville said. "We haven't just been looking at four guys, we've been looking at 10 or 12 that will play nickel and dime packages, backup corners, backup safeties — we've had some injuries in that area. So we've had to bring some younger guys up and try to get them ready to play.
That's a concern. We'll be concerned. It's a concern for every team in this conference right now as far as how good their DBs are and how good their pass-rushers are. Because if you are going to be successful, that's the two areas that you have to be pretty proficient in."
Tuberville noted that there might be some subtle changes over the weekend before he has an exact two-deep player roster ready for the first game against SMU. But for the most part, the two-deep simply serves as a "top-two" guide than a list of everyone who will see playing time. Tuberville expressed the need to continue to find the right guys who can play on the defensive line and in the secondary. He'd like to have a whole slew of players with the ability to go in and out of those positions.
"The one thing that you'll find out in the first game is that we'll look like our offense when it comes to substitutions," Tuberville said of the defense. "We'll be running guys in and out, trying to keep them fresh. Whoever is in the top six or seven on the defensive line will play a lot of snaps. And even some of the guys past that point."
Freshman defensive tackle Coby Coleman became the latest Red Raider to go down with an injury, requiring season-ending surgery to repair a torn shoulder that was nagging him before camp started. Defensive back Jared Flannel also had his season-ending surgery to repair a torn Achilles. That now puts three Tech players (Britton Barbee, Flannel, Coleman) out for the season.
Wide receiver Austin Zouzalik
remains out after undergoing an appendectomy two weeks ago, as well as
offensive lineman Beau Carpenter, who underwent the same surgery.
Fellow lineman Lonnie Edwards and running back Harrison Jeffers were both back at practice but in limited roles. Lineman Mickey Okafor remains out after suffering a concussion last week.
RED BARON WATCH
Texas Tech senior running back Baron Batch has been named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List.
Batch is one of 49 running backs in the country who will look to be named the top running back in the nation this year. Batch is one of 10 backs from the Big 12 Conference to make the list.
He led the Red Raiders and ranked second in the Big 12 with 15 touchdowns (14 rushing) in 2009. He led the team with 884 yards on 168 carries and tallied 1,279 all-purpose yards. Batch averaged 98.4 yards of total offense per game as a junior. His 14 rushing touchdowns place him tied for sixth all-time in Tech single-season history.
Former Red Raiders Bam Morris (1993) and Byron Hanspard (1996) are the only two Tech players to ever win the award.