February 29, 2012

Defense looking good early

Practice No. 6 is in the books after the Lubbock wind pushed what was supposed to be a Tuesday practice to Wednesday.

This week, the play calling is getting a little more complex and head coach Tommy Tuberville hopes to have a more sophisticated scrimmage Saturday after another learning heavy practice Thursday.

"Saturday's scrimmage, after grading the film, we looked a lot better mentally on defense than we did on offense," the head coach said. "We didn't execute very well on offense. We're a little bit behind, but as I always say, hopefully your defense is a little ahead of the offense early because it's a lot harder to play offense mentally.

"Today, practice was much better. We threw a lot at them today and are trying to add more for our scrimmage on Saturday to see how much our guys can handle."
Tuberville said the offensive coaching staff emphasized the running game today and there are still some things to sort out.

The offensive line isn't looking as sharp as Tuberville hoped, but that's usually par for the course when replacing three starters from last year's squad.

At running back, Sadale Foster has been an incredibly pleasant surprise. Foster, who was recruited to be more of a kick returner, is holding his own with
Kenny Williams and Ronnie Daniels enough that Bradley Marquez has been sent back to work with the receivers.
More on that later though.

Tuberville said the Red Raiders are lacking much of a deep ball threat with Eric Ward out with a shoulder bruise, Marcus Kennard is out with a hamstring injury and Javon Bell with a pulled groin.

Bell should return in time for Saturday's scrimmage and since the coaching staff already knows what it's going to get out of Ward he'll sit until after spring break. Kennard's injury doesn't have a timetable.

Tuberville also praised his defensive linemen. The film indicated Kerry Hyder and Dennell Wesley have vastly improved from the 2011 season.


Marquez Moves To Outside Receiver

Bradley Marquez has been the Swiss army knife of the offense this spring, changing positions at need and moving around to fill holes. Marquez has once again moved, this time from running back to outside receiver. Tuberville said that the versatile athlete will hopefully stay there for the foreseeable future.

"If we don't get anybody else hurt in the spring, he'll stay at wide receiver. We've really got enough guys (at running back). Ronnie needs the reps, Sadale needs the reps, Kenny needs the reps. Three is in good shape, and we've only got nine practices left. Bradley needs to go back outside, because we're missing what, three or four, five wide receivers? He needs the reps there. He's got a few days in out there."

The emergence of Foster at running back made the decision to move Marquez that much easier for the coaching staff. A set of bruised ribs also factored into the move.

"Bottom line, if Sadale hadn't of done what he's done early and showed us what he could do, you'd probably see Bradley there. Problem was he had bruised ribs. It's hard to be a running back trying to run the ball inside with bruised ribs."

It's kind of like a trade between the receivers and running backs.

The coaching staff thought Foster might translate from Riverside (Calif.) Community College better as a slot receiver.

"The thing about a good running back is they can see," Tuberville said. "I know he's got eyes, but he can see the field as he's running. He played running back in high school, but we actually recruited him as a slot because we thought we'd be deep enough but with not enough guys out here we decided to start him at running back."

Tuberville said all Sadale is going to have to do this offseason to earn playing time at running back is trimming down some body fat.

-Graham and McKay

Will Smith Turning Heads

When Tech signed a handful of JUCO defensive prospects in December, many expected those recruits to come in and dam up the river that ran all over the Red Raider defense last fall. None of those recruits has been more impressive than linebacker Will Smith. Smith has all the tools as an athlete, and coach Tuberville is excited to see what the Riverside prospect can do once he knows the defensive system like the back of his hand.

"He doesn't know what he's doing, doesn't have a clue, but he's really into it and he's working hard on his technique.

"I'm just anxious to see what he's going to be like once he gets comfortable. Right now his head's spinning. Today we threw in four or five of what we call zero blitzes where we just bring the house. They've got to read off of releases, and you can tell his head was spinning. The thing he does is he plays fast and he plays big. We didn't see a play like he made the other day in the scrimmage all year last year on defense," he said. "He's got football smarts and he's going to be a big guy. He's 230, 235. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't weigh 245 after the next four or five months, and we're just trying to find the right place for him."


Wild Snaps Abundant Early On

With the graduation of Justin Keown at center, Tech will likely look to Deveric Gallington to fill the seniors shoes. Errant snaps have been a problem so far this spring, and coach Tubs admitted as much after practice on Wednesday.

"Yes," he said. "If you go back and look at the Oklahoma game, there were a lot of groundballs. Deveric doesn't get a lot of ground balls anymore, he gets the ball up. The thing I'm worried about is consistency. We'll have a million snaps between now and two-a-days. Right now their head is spinning with stepping right and stepping left. You've got to remember, he's not played center much, and he's got to work on it, there's no doubt about that."

The head ball coach also talked about his other two centers, Tony Morales and true freshman Jared Kaster. Tubs said that all three will be utilized throughout the season, and he hopes the problem is remedied sometime before then.

"We've got Tony Morales, and he's so much better this week than he was last week. Then of course, there's Jared Kaster. He's scared to death. We play him at guard some, we'll play him at center, getting him in the game. We're going to have to have three centers next year and he would travel right now. We have Alfredo (Morales) also who can snap. I think it's a little bit of a concern. If you watch the scrimmage, I think it takes a little bit away from the quarterback when he's not really sure that ball is going to be there," he said. "But, we'll improve, we'll get a lot better. It hopefully improves and we can keep them out here and keep guys healthy where we don't get them beat up."


Does Douglas Have Pro Potential at CB?

Cornelius Douglas, a receiver turned cornerback, made his debut at corner last season against Oklahoma State and held up fairly well against Justin Blackmon.

Douglas looked better against Missouri and showed signs of improvement against Baylor to close out the season.
Most schools recruited Douglas as a defensive player and Tuberville said the upside Douglas has could be high enough for a pro career.

"He's got a chance in the future to play past college football," the head coach said. "He'll get better. Problem is he hasn't played there much and every day something new comes up. We're playing different coverages and he's got to learn the technique. One thing he'll do is compete hard."


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