My Pants Are Going Crazy for Special Teams
Yep, that's right, my pants are flying around the room as LAJ's Don Williams talks with new special teams coach Eric Russell. Here's Russell on what he expects:
"You hope you have one or two guys that their only role is to be dominant special-teams guys," he said. "They’re not going to play offense, they’re not going to play defense, but they’ve got a role because they can play on all four teams and make things happen.
"A couple of our most productive players at Louisiana Tech never played a down of offense or defense in their time there, but really bought in and embraced the chance they could get in 30, 35 snaps a game through special teams."
And sophomore cornerback Taylor Charbonnet sounds impressed:
"He knows what he’s doing," Charbonnet said. "He came here with a system, and it’s going to work. It’s worked at every school he’s been. It’s nice having him just being able to focus on that. He knows his stuff with all the teams."
And Mike Leach likes the results thus far, as well as the intensity that Russell brings to special teams:
"I think he’s done a really good job," Leach said. "He practices at a really high level of intensity, which I like. As we get further into it, those guys will have an awareness of what he expects and I think respond better perhaps than they are right now."
This probably excites me more than most things in the offseason, and I keep saying it, but it's so great that the staff finally found a true special teams coach and I'm hoping for huge improvements on every special teams unit.
Finding a Punt Returner
More on the special teams front, LAJ's Don Williams writes about various options vying for the punt return job, including Cornelius Douglas, Jacoby Franks, Harrison Jeffers, Jamar Wall, Eric Ward and Taylor Charbonnet. Here's what Russell looks for in a returner:
"Vision, the ability to make people miss and, obviously, you’ve got to be dependable. We’re not going to put a guy back there that’s going to drop one out of every three punts," Russell said. "And courage. You’ve got to be courageous, because that’s the one time where they’re going to have free access at times. Confident and courageous."
And here's what Russell intends to do going forward:
Russell said he’ll start narrowing down the candidates within the next week or two, and he’d like to find one "special guy" who can handle most of the workload. But he also said it would be ideal for the team to have two capable punt returners, and that Tech might occasionally use two at the same time.
Red Raiders Football Notebook
- Captain Mike Leach made Ed Britton sit at a desk and chair at the 50 yard line. I'll let Leach take it from here:
"Ed didn’t like showing up and studying at places I felt like he needed to and like the academic people asked him to, so he can go study out there on the 50-yard line," Leach said. "We’ll take baby steps, and if he does good studying out there, we’ll decide if we’re going to actually let him practice."
Asked if Britton was on thin ice, Leach said, "I’d say that’s accurate. All guys that don’t study are on thin ice, as far as I’m concerned."
Leach said Britton was to remain out in the cold, studying for at least an hour and a half after his teammates had gone in for the day.
"If somehow he fails to do that, then that’ll be the last we ever hear of Easy Ed," Leach said.
Hopefully I'm not the only one that absolutely loves this move. It may not be politically correct to publicly punish a player, but I would assume that if Britton isn't going to put in the work in the classroom, then Leach has an obligation to make sure that he does when it's his time. There's a reason why Texas Tech has such a high graduation rate with the football program.
- Colby Whitlock will wear Graham Harrell's #6 jersey:
"He couldn’t have any better-looking guy take it over for him," said Whitlock, who was the leading tackler among Tech’s defensive linemen last season.
- Hawaiian Sam Fehoko on practicing in the snow yeserday:
"I told one of my teammates, Tyrone Sonier, that I was going to call my mom after practice and tell her that it’s snowing here and I’m practicing in snow and she’s going to trip out," Fehoko said. "It’s really different practicing in this snow."
Neglected Video, Pictures and Audio
Lots of things to look at and listen to:
- Fox34 with a Friday practice report: Leach wants some tougher receivers, McKinner Dixon on his new role, and Leach loves Lubbock.
- LAJ practice pictures from Friday
- The second hour of Tech Talk: Texas Tech vs. Baylor, the hiring process of Eric Russell