Byrnes Returns to Practice: LAJ's Don Williams reported yesterday that C Shawn Byrnes has returned to practice, but that LT Terry McDaniel, S Will Ford, QB Steven Sheffield and IR Blake Kelley did not practice.
Eating the Dinosaur: ESPN2's Chuck Kosterman has a very interesting and lengthy piece about all sorts of things, mainly about football, and Kosterman writes quite a bit about Texas Tech's Mike Leach and his offensive philosophy, which is to run a few plays to perfection rather than run hundreds of plays to something less than perfection. I'm providing a blockquote to entice you, but go read the whole thing. I also want to emphasize the point of running a few plays, but running them perfectly, I'd encourage you to take a look at a post I wrote over 2 years ago (it's really been that long) about the hot-hand theory, doing your job, and the entire Hal Mumme Practice Plan.
It's easy to overlook the significance of this kind of quote, mostly because it seems obvious and casual and reductionist. But it's none of those things. It's an almost perfect description of how thinking slightly differently can have an exponential consequence, particularly when applied to an activity that's assumed to be inflexible. There is this inherent myth about football that suggests offensive success comes in one of two ways: You can run a handful of plays with extreme precision, or you can run a multitude of different plays in the hope of keeping defenses confused. The Green Bay Packers of the Lombardi era embraced the former philosophy (they rarely used more than fifteen different plays in the course of any game, but the fifteen they ran were disciplined and flawless), as did the straightforward running attack of USC during the 1970s and early '80s. Two modern coaches (Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer) have both found success at the talent-rich University of Florida, seemingly by never running the same play twice. But the inverted thinking of Mike Leach allows Texas Tech to do both: If Texas Tech focuses on only fifteen different plays -- but runs them all out of twenty different formations -- they're instantly drawing from a pool of three hundred options, all of which could still be executed with the repetitive exactitude of the Packers' power sweep. It wasn't that Leach out-thought everybody else; it was merely that he thought differently. Instead of working within the assumed parameters of football, he decided to expand what those parameters were. For a while, that made him seem like a crazy person. But this is how football always evolves: Progressive ideas are introduced by weirdos and mocked by the world, and then everybody else adopts and refines those ideas ten years later.
I recommend you go read the whole thing,and it may take you some time, but it's well worth it.
Offensive Newcomers: TR's dedfischer with a good look at the offensive newcomers who are contributing to the team
Sideline Pros: I haven't mentioned Steven Leija in quite a while, but he's a photographer in the DFW area, but his passion is Texas Tech and made it to the game last week to take some photos which are posted at his website, Sideline Pros. Go give Steven a visit.
Texas A&M Aggie Links: LAJ's Adam Zuvanich writes about TAMU freshman WR Uzoma Nwachukwu, who's having a tremendous season . . . B/CS Eagle's Robert Cessna writes that TAMU's attitude towards Texas Tech needs to change:
The fact that A&M has better facilities, more fans, more tradition, more money, etc., only drives him and the Red Raiders that much more.
And it’s worked.
. . . and Cessna with a look at how the young Aggies reacted to last week's first road trip and Nwachukwu talks about what his fellow team mates should expect in Lubbock:
"[My teammates] told me definitely keep your helmet on because those fans get real rowdy," Nwachukwu said. "But it's a rivalry game and everything like that. They don't like us and we don't like them, so just keep your helmet on."
. . . SAEN's Buck Harvey with a piece on why TAMU head coach Mike Sherman can afford to lose . . .
Big 12 Links: Rock M Nation's Bill C with the always fun Beyond the Box Score weekly picks (the computers are telling them to take the Aggies against the spread) . . . Columbia Tribune's Dave Matter wish a terrific look at the Big 12's new stars (an enjoyable read, and Matter is one of the best, but I don't link enough) . . . Rivals.com's Olin Buchanan with a good look at week 8 of the Big 12 (a good part is focused on Texas Tech vs. Texas A&M) . . .
Expectations: DT's Adam Coleman writes that both men's and women's basketball coaches, Pat Knight and Kristy Curry, have not had to face the high expectations during the media days (they are ongoing yesterday and today) and Pat Knight likes the challenge:
"It’s good we’re picked low," Knight said. "I actually did an interview with (a magazine). I’m not going to say what magazine. He had no idea about any of the players. I went down through all our players. He was like ‘Well I’m gonna move you up.’ I was like ‘No, you keep me in the basement where I know you have me.’"