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March 25, 2012

Notebook: Tech's spring game

Tuberville Pleased With Final Scrimmage

Texas Tech's annual Red and Black game has now come and gone, which means that spring football is essentially in the books for 2012. The Red Raiders kicked off early on the afternoon on an absolutely Saturday, and head coach Tommy Tuberville felt that it was a very productive scrimmage overall.
"I thought it was a good day. Number one, we had great weather. All the guys attitudes were good, and we didn't have a lot of contact this week. Very competitive game. That's one of the first spring games that I've been involved with that was as competitive as it was today. Both sides we looked pretty good. We didn't do a whole lot on either side of the ball in terms of formations, defensive fronts, or converages. Our technique looked good. We played hard, we didn't get anybody hurt."

Tuberville said that while they won't be sure until they scan through the film, there were several stand out players in his mind on Saturday including breakout kicker Ryan Bustin.

"It's hard to tell. You always look at the running backs, and I thought Ronnie Daniels and Sadale Foster did pretty good. I thought Jackson Richards played the run really well. We didn't blitz much, so it's hard to tell in that aspect. Cornelius Douglas has gotten much better. Ryan Bustin, I thought he only missed one field goal, which was pretty impressive. We look at effort, communication, and technique. We'll look at the film tomorrow and grade it."

The head ball coach was also impressed with the overall play by both his quarterbacks, noting that Michael Brewer had a top notch day.

"I was really impressed with the quarterbacks. I thought Seth Doege played well. I thought Michael Brewer played really well. We'll go back and look at his reads. That's what we'll look at right now. We know they can throw the football. You go back and look at what decisions they made."

The biggest question mark coming into the spring, as has been the tradition over the last decade, was the defense. With the fourth DC in as many years taking the reins, many wondered just what they would see over the course of fifteen practices. The defense has been mostly a positive all spring long, and according to Tuberville, Saturday's final scrimmage went swimmingly for Art Kaufman's D.

"I thought we tackled a lot better on defense. We looked a lot better in terms of pass coverage, closer to receivers. When they would catch one they didn't get a lot of yards after the catch most of the time," he said. "Just looking at our coverage defensively, we're much improved and we've got some depth. We've got some younger guys coming on which I think is really going to help us."


Kaufman Seeing Progress, Assessing Players

Saturday's scrimmage marked the first opportunity for members of the media to interview new defensive coordinator Art Kaufman. The DC was pleased with his players effort on Saturday and came into the spring hoping to gauge his squad and their progress.
"There were some good things, and there were some things we talked about. We were going to try and be pretty vanilla, not worry so much about plays, but players. I think our goal this spring was to evaluate the guys, what they have, and what they can do. We'll try to improve on that and it takes time," he said. "I was pleased with the guys efforts and what they're doing. We've just got to continue to improve."

Kaufman understands that his players have been through four schemes in four years and wanted to introduce a system that would be quick and simple for them to learn.
"The whole thing we try to do is we try to be simple scheme wise, and we talk about trying to make sure we know what we're doing so once we get to the season we can spend time on the opponent. I don't want to have to spend time installing a lot during the season," he said. "But the whole thing is (about the) players. We're just making sure they know what they're doing, how they're doing it. We talk about stop the run, (play well against) the pass, and don't give any big plays for the touchdown."

One player that Kaufman, and everyone that's been watching practice, has been pleased with is cornerback Cornelius Douglas. The new head defender feels that Douglas has the right mentality for the position and is impressed with his progress in the short time he's known him.

"He understands that when he has something bad happen to him, he doesn't go into a (panic). He's got thick skin and that's what you've got to have at that position. I think he's really going to improve, because when you look at it, he's really only been a corner for half a year. No camp time to work on fundamentals, and that's his first spring that he's ever had on (defense).
Kaufman also named a few more defenders that he's been impressed with.

"I'm really looking forward to these last two days with Leon Mackey," he said. "I think he's really going to help us. Delvon SImmons is going to be a good player in time. Brandon Jackson and Dartwan have done a great job. I thought at end that Brandon Jackson is a guy that's really surprised me. He's done us a good job. At linebacker, Sam Eguavoen has done a good job, and then Cody Davis. The hit he had out there today, he's really had a good spring. Those are just some of the guys."


Bright Future For Will Smith

One of the most impressive players this spring has undoubtedly been JUCO linebacker signee Will Smith. Smith impressed once again on Saturday, and head coach Tommy Tuberville is glad to have finally found him a permanent position at middle linebacker where he'll likely be the heart and soul of the defense this fall.

"Will is a guy that will get better every snap. He's playing inside now. We've got him in a home. He'll be our quarterback on defense in terms of getting us lined up and getting everything called next year. He plays with a lot of confidence, and he's got a lot of height so he can see," he said. "The thing about him is that he just needs reps, so we'll spend a lot of time with him in the next five months to see he knows what's going on."

Smith felt he had a fairly good scrimmage to cap off his excellent spring, noting that new defensive coordinator Art Kaufman's scheme as a tool that eased his transition to D1 football.

"I might have had a few missed tackles, but overall I thought I did a pretty good job," he said. "The transition's been pretty smooth and Coach Kaufman is a very understanding coach, so he gives everybody the right directions with what to do and it isn't too complicated so everyone gets a chance to understand their position."

Kaufman is excited about the junior's potential, noting that Saturday's performance was just another day in the park for the middle linebacker.

"Will's had a good spring. Today was kind of a typical day for him. He's gotten better and better as every day has gone along and I'll look for some good things out of him this fall."


Brown Talks Overall Performance, Running Backs

Offensive coordinator Neal Brown has been quite the handy man this spring. He's had to fill holes and cracks throughout his receiver and running back corps. due to injuries to players such as Eric Stephens, Eric Ward, Alex Torres, Austin Zouzalik, DeAndre Washington, and others. The two groups have been sewn together with shifting players throughout the spring, but the OC said that he was pleased with his offense for the majority of Saturday.

"I felt like we did some good things. I wanted to get Sadale Foster some work, and he did. I think he showed some signs at running back. Our O-line, I don't think we had any bad snaps with the ones, so that was a positive. Le'Raven's got to keep coming with that first group at right tackle. He got exposed a couple of times today I think against Dartwan, but he had a lot of snaps and he needs to keep getting better. Then at receiver, we came into this at receiver just trying to get some guys some touches. Javon Bell showed up. Both the little guys, Grant and McRoy, showed up. I was pleased. Overall we got done what we wanted to."

Sadale Foster likely would have never been a factor at running back had Stephens and Washington been healthy, but the JUCO signee playmaker turned heads with his opportunities. Brown wanted to test Foster as a tailback on Saturday, giving him a full work load to play with. The offensive coordinator was pleased with his results.

"I didn't see the stats, but I wanted to get him 15 or 20 touches. It's been a while since he's had to stay in there and play really a whole game at running back. I wanted to see how his conditioning was first of all. Then I wanted to put him in some passing situation where he could pick up the blitz. He's pretty good with the ball in his hand, but I wanted to see if he could play consecutive plays and protect the passer."

When you watch a player like Ronnie Daniels hit the field, he's hard to ignore. The big tailback has shown flashes of brilliance this spring, but Brown would like to see some more consistency out of the recently reinstated player.

"Well, he's been up and down. His last scrimmage was probably better than this one. He's got to get more consistent. He's got to get where he can make that first guy in space miss. He's good at running through tackles, there's no question. He's versatile, he's a pretty good blocker. But he's been up and down. He's got to be more consistent."

Brown would also like to see Daniels lose a few pounds.

"I'm concerned about what he needs to lose," he said. "He needs to be about 210. You can see his conditioning level. He came back off the suspension about 215-220. He didn't do a very good job of staying in shape over spring break, and it showed. The first four or five reps he gets you can't really tell, but once it gets late into the first quarter, the second quarter, it really started to show. He's got to lose about 15."


Brown Pleased With QB Play

Coming into the spring with only two scholarship quarterbacks, Red Raider fans and coaches have been able to focus in on the detailed differences between redshirst freshman Michael Brewer and senior incumbent starter Seth Doege. Both players have had their own ups and downs, and both have shown marks of excellence. OC Neal Brown felt that Brewer had a spectacular day, noting it as his best of the spring. Brown also noted, however, that fans should ease up on any quarterback controversy talk, pointing out the differences in competition that both players have faced.

"He did well, this is by far the best he's played. It really is by far the best he's played. It helps because he's going against the number two defense, but I really wanted to leave the spring with me having confidence in him and the rest of the team having confidence in him, and I think we got that done today. He made a lot of plays, some third down conversions. He didn't make the big mistake, and that's kind of what he's done in these scrimmage situation the last two years. He's looked pretty good, but he's always made one kind of mistake that's hurt us bad, and he didn't do that today, so I was really pleased with him."

Brown said that while Doege didn't have one if his greatest performances in the scrimmage, he also wasn't afraid to throw the veteran QB to the wolves.

"It was up and down, but to give him credit, I've tried to put Brewer in good situations. I really wasn't worried about putting him in the best situations. I was more worried about getting guys touches when he was in the game. We could've got him going if I thought it was a major factor. He's a good player. He's a really good player. He did some really good things today, some things he probably shouldn't, some balls he probably shouldn't have thrown, but he's a really good player. I would take him as quick as any quarterback in the Big 12."


O-line Still Shaky

The Red Raider offensive line has been the biggest point of worry for Texas Tech all spring, and Saturday was no different. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown said that the line is still under construction, but noted several players' performances and progress.

"We're a work in progress. I'm glad we're not playing tomorrow. We're a work in progress. All the pieces aren't set there. We're still working to add some pieces to that puzzle. We wanted to get Le'Raven Clark a ton of reps this spring. We moved Terry inside, and we can easily move Terry back outside when we need to. We wanted to get some continuity. I wanted to get Deveric Gallington where I felt comfortable with him playing center, and I do. I think he's had a good spring. Then Beau Carpenter and the Morales brothers. Rashad Fortenberry is one that's really got to grow. I don't think he had a very good day today. The two months of the summer are going to be really big for him."

One big bright spot for the line has been back up left guard Alfredo Morales. The redshirt freshman has made impressed many onlookers with his physicality and tenacity, and Brown said that he's been pleased with the young player's improvement.

"He's had a good (spring). He's probably right behind Derek Edwards probably right up there on the improvement list. He's gotten some reps with the ones this spring. Him and Beau Carpenter are right there playing that left guard. He's a guy that we're really going to need. He's a guy that we feel like will be in that top eight or nine. He's gotten his body in good shape and he looks good. He looks like a college O-lineman. He's got a great first step, and there are some fundamental things that he's got to keep ironing out, but a lot of improvement this spring."


Tuberville Addresses Amaro and Williams Situation

With the recent arrests and charges against running back Kenny Williams and tight end Jace Amaro, many have been waiting for a statement from head football coach Tommy Tuberville. The duo was allowed to practice last week, but Tuberville held them out from participation in the scrimmage. Tuberville said that he's waiting on the legal system to make any sort of decision but did say that he was disappointed in the two young players' and their predicament.

"We're waiting to see what comes down with the charges. It's an unfortunate incident. They know better," he said. "We'll handle it. We don't put up with that and they know that. Unfortunately, it happens at every school. It happened here, and it'll happen again. We hold them to a higher standard than anybody else around them, and they know that. They're embarrassed. But, we'll work through this. They didn't play today and we'll just see (what happens)."


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