July 8, 2011

Cumbie, Mainord talk receivers

Texas Tech football fans should be excited about the Red Raiders' running game.

With a batch of talented freshmen coming in added with Eric Stephens, Aaron Crawford and Speedster Ben McRoy the Red Raiders should have its best running numbers in more than a decade this season. Everything seems to be falling in place to take some pressure off of first-year Seth Doege and the passing game.

By no means, however, will the receivers take a backseat in Neal Brown's offense. Tech will still pass more than throw and outside receivers coach Tommy Mainord and inside receivers coach Sonny Cumbie talked about their position strengths with the boys of 'Tech Talk,' Chris Level, Aaron Dickens and Brandon Rawe on Lubbock's Double T 104.3 FM earlier this week.

"I think we'll be more athletic at the outside receiver positions," Mainord said on 'Tech Talk.' "I don't know if we'll be better if that makes sense. Detron Lewis and Lyle Leong were awfully good but I'm hoping that in another year or sooner depending on when these guys develop we can make it where those guys can score an 80-yard touchdown every now and then. That would be nice."

The offensive coaching staff seems to be in agreement that the Red Raiders need more explosive plays in the future. Mainord said Tech had to gut out almost all of its scoring drives last season.

"The guys that are returning are naturally going to be better at it," Mainord said. "It's going to be a little more natural for them and we can open up some things and do a little more with that. And personnel helps a lot. You hope your recruiting starts to pick up.

"You've heard coach (Tommy) Tuberville and coach (Neal) Brown repeat it numerous times that we were lacking in speed and big plays at times. We had eight-play drive after 10-play drive after 12-play drive and that's hard. That's one thing we're focusing on, making more big plays when we get the ball. I think we have the potential to do that."

Juniors Darrin Moore and Marcus Kennard are expected to take Leong and Lewis' spots on the outside and Mainord said there is some good depth behind them.

"Moore is rotating with (Tramain Swindall), we moved Swin from H to Z in the spring at that turned out to be really good for us… (Swindall's) body is more natural for the outside. I think both of those guys can do some really good things for us. Shawn Corker is working out there too and doing a good job for us so I think we're doing a good job at Z.

"At X, it's still a little bit in question because we have Marcus Kennard who we think has lots of ability. He was hurt for the majority spring, had turf toe that nagged him for a while. Eric Ward had a great spring and really came on. His body is starting to develop like we hoped and he's starting to do some good things. Then we had Derek Edwards graduate early and for a high school senior did a phenomenal job for us. His body is going to determine when he can play… The one guy nobody remembers and nobody thinks about because he's been injured is Jacoby Franks. He's playing both X and Z, he knows them both… If the inside really develops we can move Alex Torres outside."

There's a little less depth on the inside but as long as Torres and Austin Zouzalik can stay healthy the Red Raiders will always have four solid receivers on the field at any given point.

Or maybe three receivers and freshman tight end Jace Amaro who should start immediately.

"The 2011 class is going to be exciting, it's already exciting the things we hear about them and how hard they're working and the ability they're bringing," Cumbie said. "Jace is going to be one of those guys."

Cumbie said he felt like some inside receivers are flying under the radar right now. With Amaro and now-eligible Rutgers transfer Tony Trahan at tight end, Adam James gets the opportunity to move back to a true receiver and Cumbie has been impressed.

"Another guy who's worked very hard and had a great spring, he missed a few days of practice and the offseason but we hear he's doing really well, is Adam James. He did a really good job this spring and worked very hard. So (Torres, Zouzalik, James) and with Cornelius Douglas coming back, who's got a lot of experience, those four guys have worked very hard and the younger guys have been pushing them.

"It will be a fun training camp and hopefully all of those guys continue to improve."

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