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Spring Ball Takeaways: Gibbs talks progress, pass rush, guys growing

Texas Tech defensive coordinator David Gibbs met with members of the local media to talk about the Red Raider defense and what he's seen over the last week...


-After a solid day in Frisco last Saturday, Coach Gibbs felt his unit had a mixed week:

"Tuesday we didn't have a very good practice. The weather was crazy, we went in the stadium, and maybe it was a let down after going to Frisco in front of that great crowd, and probably the worst practice we had all spring was (Tuesday). But, everybody came out today, it was good energy, flying around and competing, and we got back on track today."

-On rush end Lonzell Gilmore and what he's seen from the sophomore this spring:

"He's gotten a lot better. He's getting a lot more reps with no so-called returning rush. So, he's gotten plenty of work, and to his credit, he flashes every day, comes to work every day, hasn't missed any practices, and he's a work in progress, but he is getting better."

-Thoughts on playing at Jones Stadium on Saturday night for the final public scrimmage of the spring:

"Anytime you play our offense in front of a crowd, it's like gameday. It's hard. It'll be another tough challenge for us. They know what we're doing, we know what they're doing, but they've got some really good players, and I just want to see guys fly around. I'd like to see them tackle a lot better. I didn't think we tackled well in Frisco, not near as well as we tackled in Midland, so I'd like to see us tackle."

-Senior corner D.J. Polite-Bray has reportedly had one of the best springs of any player on the team, and Coach Gibbs has been happy with the way the Georgia native has seemingly turned things on:

"He's like a different guy. It's like the light has come on for him, and we saw him at his worst last year. To the kid's credit, he worked hard in the offseason, and he's workd hard every day. I'm not going to say that he's practiced well every day, but he's competed, gotten a lot better at tackling, and a lot better covering. He's a corner that's made some plays for us, and hopefully he keeps improving."

-On why he thinks Polite-Bray has had a light bulb seemingly come on:

"Prolly cause he was a wide receiver his whole life, he flipped over, and it takes time. It's a little different when you're going backwards than when you're going forwards, and I wish I knew. I'd have done it two years ago if I had that answer."

-On what he's taken away as far as positives for his defense so far this spring:

"We've gotten better, but the last two springs after practice 12 I thought we got better, too. Don't get too high, don't get too low, just keep grinding, and the players have worked hard. We've improved. But again, it's April, we've got a long way to go until we play in September, and just keep working and keep grinding."

-Coach Gibbs was asked about where he thought the pass rush was and if they've made any progress this spring:

"They're working on it. Obviously our offensive line is young and a work of progress in and of itself, but we've got some guys who've improved their pass rush techniques and abilities, and everybody wants to talk about the pass rush, but we've got a lot of things we can improve on. Lonzell can rush the quarterback, and that's why he flashes. Wasn't quite ready a year ago whereas now he's physically strong enough where he can go pass rush against Big 12 offensive linemen. He's one guy, and there are some other guys who have gotten better along the way, and hopefully you see some of them on Saturday night."

-Thoughts on Zach Barnes, who's been seen playing on the inside at defensive tackle in some packages this spring:

"He's everywhere. Zach is one of those guys that can play multiple positions, and actually since I've been here, he's lined up at all four defensive line spots. Certain packages he's inside and certain packages he's outside, and he's worked hard for us. Zach's problem has never been practice. Zach's problem has been when you go out there in front of a lot of people, and he doesn't always play like he practices, so hopefully being his senior year, I talked to him about it being his last go around, it's time to show up on gameday. But, he's had a good spring."

-So, double digit practices into spring, have the JUCO transfers in the secondary lived up to Gibbs' expectations?

"I've said this before, but I think all three of the junior college DBs are Big 12 defensive backs. They've got a long way to go, but they're getting better every day. They love football, love being here, love working, and you'll take kids like that every day."

-Justus Parker is a defensive back that transferred in from Texas Lutheran after 2015, sitting out 2016 in his transfer year and now coming in as a redshirt sophomore. He's been running both second and first team nickel this spring, so Gibbs was asked what he's thought of Parker and his progress:

"He's done a good job this spring. I talked about him today. He had like 15 reps I think in the first three practices, 15 total reps, and on Tuesday he had 53 in practice. He's earned his practice reps, and he's getting better every day, so we'll keep working him in there. He's big, physical, got a multiple skillset that can play multiple positions, and he's finally learning how to play defense."

-Gibbs was asked if he's finally seeing the consistency from his unit that he's wanted since he arrived:

"It's one of those things where if you have a plan and you stick with the plan and know what you're doing, recruit the right guys, eventually you're going to figure it out. But, it's April and we've got a long way to go until September. Hopefully I can answer this question in maybe November, but yeah, there is consistency. There are guys who know what to do without having to - you just make a call and they know what to do. We don't have to teach them from scratch, which every time you change defenses you have to teach from scratch. It's been a lot smoother spring as far as installation and those things."

-The DC was asked what winning the scrimmage on Saturday through the scoring system and winning the three game series for the spring against the offense would mean:

"Nothing. I just want to tackle people and line up with 11 people that will play hard. I don't even know how they keep score in these games, so I'll take whatever they give me."

-Noah Jones hasn't been seen around practice recently, so Coach Gibbs was asked today if something was up with the redshirt freshman defensive lineman:

"I only want to talk about guys that are out here. You'll have to ask Coach Kingsbury about those things."