Red Raider Gridiron | Defensive Line Depth Charting and Discussing Injuries, Coaching and Talent

THOMSEN BEING WATCHED | The subject line actually sounds creepy, but head coach Tommy Tuberville was at the The Big Country Celebrity Ultimate Hunt in Abilene on Friday night and had this to say about new offensive line coach Chris Thomsen, who was the former head coach at Abilene Christian. Per the Abilene Reporter-News:

"Chris was on our watchlist the last few years," Tuberville said. "Finally the opportunity came up, but unfortunately he had left and gone to Arizona State.

"He wanted to come home. He's a West Texas guy and he loves it out here."

And:

"He'll do a great job with our football program and be a great recruiter and a good ambassador for West Texas," Tuberville said. "He knows a lot of high school guys, so it's a perfect fit for him and me.

"He had a very good recruiting month for Arizona State in Texas. We didn't recruit against him (for specific players), but he got a couple for Arizona State from the Dallas area. He's going to be a huge help by name recognition, the high school coaches knowing who he is."

INJURIES, COACHING AND TALENT | The topic of injuries has come up a couple of times the last couple of days, the question being to what effect did the injuries on this team in particular late in the season where Texas Tech suffered some of their worst losses. And of course, the topic of injuries isn't being discussed in a vacuum, but rather, this is a question of injuries and coaching and I still think that talent should be part of the equation, but I think I'm in the minority here. I think last year's 5-7 mark is a combination of all three things, poor coaching, what seems like a bunch of injuries and young or not very good talent on the field.

The LAJ's Don Williams has in the title of his article that says that there were 24 long-term injuries. These are just the players mentioned in the article:

RB Eric Stephens (knee), RB DeAndre Washington (knee), WR Alex Torres (knee), CB Happiness Osunde (knee), S Chris Yeakey (knee), S/LB Terrance Bullitt (shoulder), CB Shawn Corker (shoulder), S Desmond Martin (knee), LB Zach Winbush (broken foot), WR Darrin Moore (ankle, knee), IR Aaron Fisher (knee), IR Austin Zouzalik (concussion), S/LB Pete Robertson (shoulder), S Tre Porter (concussion), and C Tony Morales (shoulder).

I know there were others, like DE Leon Mackey, who missed 4 games, and C Justin Keown, who I don't think missed any games, but that still seems like an inordinate amount. I don't know how to quantify how important a player like Stephens is to a team, but I think it's safe to say that he was most likely the best player on the offensive side of the ball last year, with runner-ups being WR Eric Ward and QB Seth Doege with apologies to the entire offensive line.

I'd also say that the coaching regressed as well otherwise there wouldn't be a turnover of just about the entire defensive staff, save Robert Prunty. The offensive side of the ball regressed, but overall didn't perform at near the level that the defense performed. There is no doubt in my mind that the coaching could have been better in all facets of the game.

And I know that I tend to be dismissed when I argue that I just didn't think that last year's team had all that much talent and I've made a connection between how the NFL isn't knocking down the door to draft any of the seniors in 2011 other than Baron Batch and that no player has been invited to the 2012 draft. And before anyone brings up what Texas A&M did or didn't do with all of their top recruiting talent, that's irrelevant to this argument. If you want to discuss the success and failure of TAMU, then that's a separate discussion about the Aggies and you can have that all day long with Beergut. I don't want to have talented players that aren't developed either, but that's not the discussion right now.

And for me, this isn't a discussion about which players have caught on with other teams (i.e. Bront Bird), it's about what the NFL views as being part of the talent pool.

More after the jump.

For the second straight year, the NFL has not invited any Texas Tech senior to the NFL combine. I honestly can't remember what it was in 2010, but I'd bet that OL Brandon Carter and CB Jamar Wall were the players invited. In 2009, you most likely saw S Darcel McBath, DE Brandon Williams, OL Louis Vasquez, WR Michal Crabtree and QB Graham Harrell. The NFL Cobmine is not an exclusive invite list and it's intended to get as many players that they think have pro-potential as possible. It's not a guarantee either way and Batch is a prime example, but to not have even one player invited. And the NFL doesn't just invite players from winning teams, and there is the thought that Tuberville may not have developed some of these players further. I'll definitely consider this to be a very real possibility.

All I'd ask is that you open your mind to the thought that these past two teams, despite having the same number of star ratings and things like that, may not have been as talented as prior teams. Merely asking that you just entertain it as a possibility.

DEFENSIVE LINE DEPTH-CHART | LAJ's Don Williams has your depth chart for the defensive line. Prunty is quoted quite often through this. As an aside, on the offensive previews Williams quoted OC Neal Brown, but I do know that DC Art Kaufman's father passed away during the week of National Signing Day and would guess that a lot of these quotes came from NSD, which is why you probably won't see any comments from Kaufman. In any event, Prunty says that Texas Tech has to get to the opposing quarterback:

"We’ve got to rush the passer," he said. "We’ve got to get to the quarterback. We’ve got to create some havoc. I went back and watched film, and we were one second away from at least 10 or 12 (sacks)."

As far as specific players, DT Donte Phillips appears to have put on about 15 pounds, which is good, but probably still not enough and newcomer DE/DT Lee Adams is up to 272, but expect him to be at about 285 by the fall:

"We figured after he got here — working out and with the proper diet — Lee will be 285 by the time the season starts," Prunty said. "He was one of those guys in between being a defensive end and a defensive tackle, but you could see with the weight he was putting on he was headed toward being a defensive tackle."

You can check out Williams' thoughts on where he thinks players are on the depth chart by going to the link###

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