Taking Notes | New Mexico vs. Texas Tech

Sept 1, 2012; Lubbock, TX, USA; Northwestern State wide receiver Phillip Harvey (5) looks for running room against the Texas Tech Red Raider defensive in the second half at Jones AT&T Stadium. Texas Tech defeated Northwestern State 44-6. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
We didn't get off the field as much as we wanted to or as quickly as we wanted to in the second quarter, but the adjustments were very good with Art Kaufman and John Lovett at halftime in terms of how we adjusted our pass defense to get us off the field. We didn't give up much yardage the second half. But it was good to see us do that
- Head Coach Tommy Tuberville
On the adjustment of the defense

QUOTABLE | Notice who Tuberville talked about making adjustments. The old guys. The guys who have been around the block a few times, DC Art Kaufman and secondary coach John Lovett. It is their experience as to why they were hired and maybe it’s going to pay off this year.

Now we're to the point where we have to know we're going to take more baby steps than giant leaps in a lot of areas. The baby steps being focus, understanding that the only way we're going to get better now as we get into each week is technique. There are some rough areas of technique in the game that we've got to get better at. We're not going to play much harder than what we played. The focus is going to be probably pretty much the same. We're very worried about this game going in, in terms of playing a team that's been pretty good the last few years. So now we've got to really focus on technique and try to work on depth. Not just the first and second teamers, but some of the third teamers that might have to play as we get down the stretch.

NOTES | These are notes from around the interwebs this morning (I missed the links yesterday):

* LAJ's Nick Kosmider writes that TE Jace Amaro is eager to meet high expectations:
As Tech headed into spring practice, Amaro said he met with offensive coordinator Neal Brown, who told the tight end that he needed to put an emphasis on his work ethic. Brown told Amaro he had the ability to be among the best players in the country at his position.
* LAJ's Don Williams has a notebook about how the staff wants to redshirt DT Michael Starts if possible and that RB Eric Stephen's knee is a little sore.
* Mountain West Connection writes about New Mexico's passing incompetence and how it will ruin their season.
* Barking Carnival has an excellent breakdown of Texas defending the New Mexico offense. Really good stuff.
* LAJ's Don Williams summarizes about how the two coordinators want to improve the offense and defense. Here's DC Art Kaufman:
"That wouldn’t have broken had we fitted up a little bit better, and that comes with learning to play the scheme," Kaufman said. "We’ll get better as the year goes along of fitting up the scheme, but we’re going to have to, because with the people we’re facing, hey, one thing goes wrong, then it becomes a house call (touchdown)."
* ABQJournal writes about how the Lobos are having trouble tackling down the field.
* KOB reports that New Mexico QB B.R. Holbrook is downgraded to doubtful and WR Lamar Thomas is out for Saturday's game.
* DT's Michael DuPont II files the notebook and the confidence of the "chain gang" defense.
*
DT's Zach DiSchiano writes about how the Lobos are fighting injuries.
*
RRS.com's Mike Graham files a notebook and writes about when Texas Tech runs the NASCAR offense.
*
The New Mexico athletics official site talked with New Mexico head coach Bob Davie about Texas Tech:
"In a lot of ways, Texas Tech is going to be a bigger challenge (than Texas)," said Davie. "They are going to come in and throw the ball 55 or 60 times. This week may be tougher than (Texas)."
* Blatant Homerism writes about how UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds lost his flirtation with Notre Dame as they joined the ACC yesterday.
* Burnt Orange Nation goes around the Big 12.

FINDING THEIR WAY | The pass rush is still a work in progress and Tuberville admitted to that this week. Granted, this defense hasn’t played a passing team yet, but this is going to be something to watch over the course of the year. We’ve focused on the lack of big plays on the defense and sometimes teams can get by without making big plays, like Kansas St., but are successful as a result of limiting the number of yards. It is a shame that the pass rush folks won’t really be able to work on those skills in a game until sometime October 6th against Oklahoma. Despite not playing a passing team, this appears to be top-of-mind for Tuberville:

Your best pass defense goes back to one thing. It's pass rush. We're a little better in pass rush than we were last year because we can keep guys fresher. But there are some situations that we have to improve on. We had a problem with that route that they scored on all week against Sam Eguavoen. He had a problem with that route all week. Keenon Ward completed it a couple times in practice, and sure enough they ran it in a game and got it in the game. So it's just the recognition again. Just getting lined up and understanding what you're getting into and what you've got to focus on. And that's probably good for us to see. We didn't execute in practice, and we didn't execute in the game.

THE LIGHT BULB HAS GONE ON | It was hard for me not to highlight IR Jakeem Grant this week as he had 5 catches for 78 yards, including a long catch for 42 yards. If he gets in open space, he will be problematic for every Big 12 defense. I also have a feeling that I could probably rotate a different receiver each game for this section for every game this year. The depth is ridiculous.

ITEM COMPLETED | I think that CB Derrick Mays, CB Jarvis Phillips, CB Jeremy Reynolds and, to an extent, CB Eugene Neboh needed to be rehabilitated a bit this year. It seems like I recall Tuberville talking at the end of the year that the game had gotten into Mays' head. He would let one bad play beat them and then, one of the fastest players on the team would be worthless once he couldn't get over that bad play. Both Lovett and Kaufman had to rehabilitate all of the returning cornerbacks to the point where they had to stop focusing on what they did, but I think that Kaufman had said something like, "You can't let the last play beat you on the next play." Kaufman and Lovett deserve some credit here because Mays, Phillips and Reynolds are different players than they were last year. This team needed Mays to step up and will most likely need Mays to step up next year too. Tuberville talked about Mays' improvement earlier in the spring:

"He’s a lot more aggressive," Tuberville said. "We all know he can run. He’s played a lot. He’s just been a little tentative. He and John Lovett spent a lot of time working and watching film and looking at what he did last year, and I think he could be a surprise for us if he can stay healthy. He’s one of those guys that tends to come down with (injured) hamstrings, but he really has practiced well the last 21/2 weeks."

KEY TO SUCCESS | I think the key to the success of this week’s game is going to be the defense playing an unspectacular, yet incredibly solid game. New Mexico racked up quite a few yards against Texas and I’d imagine that they’ll do the same thing this week against Texas Tech. The toughest thing for a defender in this veer based offense that New Mexico runs is that the team must follow the ball. I found myself looking for the ball against Texas St. a few times and this week this will be an even bigger problem for the team. That’s why the defense has to be committed a gap-controlled and assignment based defense. They can’t guess as to where the ball is, but they do have to go through their assignments each play, doesn’t matter the mis-direction, and there will be mis-direction.

A FLASH | I haven’t really talked about the play of RB Kenny Williams, RB Sadale Foster and RB Eric Stephens and their big runs on Saturday. It’s easy to overlook them sometimes, but they are truly a trio of really talented running backs. I shake my head trying to figure out why a team didn’t offer a kid like Foster as he’s so danged versatile. The three running backs combined for 176 yards on just 21 carries for an average of 8.3 yards per carry. Both Williams and Stephens displayed how they can both be explosive out of the backfield as Williams had a 27 yard run for a touchdown and Stephens ran for 46 yards before being pulled down.

GOOD JOB GOOD EFFORT | Tuberville highlighted the scout team players of the week and I’m going to take applaud the effort of Snyder freshman ATH Keenan Ward, who probably thought that his quarterback playing days were over. Ward played quarterback, very well I might add, in Snyder, but arrived at Texas Tech to most likely be converted to the defensive side of the ball. This week, Tuberville had this to say about Ward:

Offensive scout player of the game was Keenon Ward from Snyder. Quarterback there last year, now playing defensive back. But we played him in an option quarterback position. He'll do the same thing this week.

Ward will play quarterback again this week and he just might need to do it the next week as this team prepares for Iowa St. These are the kind of things that help a team, players willing to help the team in whatever way is needed.

TAKING AIM | I always enjoy watching teams do things that I don’t get to see, so from a purely aethetic standpoint, I will enjoy watching what New Mexico does offensively because we won’t see it for the rest of the year. Most Big 12 teams are spread oriented, other than Texas and sometimes Oklahoma, so seeing a veer based team will be an interesting way to see if the defense can be patient. I’ve casually mentioned it late this week, but B.R. Holbrook was injured against Texas, but Tuberville has said that the defense is preparing for the various formation, shifts and motions. Those sorts of things absolutely killed Texas Tech last year.

But they're good at it. They've gotten better. I know their quarterback got hurt. I don't know his status, so we'll prepare to play. We've played against him the last two years. We know who he is, and we'll prepare mainly for the formations is what you do. You prepare for formations. You prepare for all the shifts and motions and try not to get out of position. Because what they do is try to get you outnumbered, out of position, and get an angle on you when they're running the option. A lot of people have had success with it over the years. Of course, as I said earlier, it's probably good that we're seeing it two weeks in a row where we can kind of have a little carryover.

INJURY REPORT | After the jump.

Fall Practice: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year; ATH Shawn Corker (broken foot - out 4 to 6 weeks); DT Anthony Smith (rolled ankle from scooter mishap - out 2 weeks); RB Quinton White (broken foot).

Week 1 vs. Northwestern St.: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year); ATH Shawn Corker (broken foot - may be out 2 to 4 more weeks); RB Quinton White (broken foot - may be out 4 to 6 more weeks); WR Aaron Fisher (broken leg - out for the year); OG Tony Morales (knee injury - out 2 weeks).

Week 2 vs. Texas St.: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year); ATH Shawn Corker (broken foot - may be out 1 to 3 more weeks); RB Quinton White (broken foot - may be out 3 to 5 more weeks); WR Aaron Fisher (broken leg - out for the year); OG Tony Morales (knee injury - out 1 week); WR Eric Ward (concussion - out 1 game).

Week 3 vs. New Mexico: OL Matt Wilson (torn ACL - out for the year); WR Aaron Fisher (broken leg - out for the year); ATH Shawn Corker (broken foot - may be out 2 more weeks); RB Quinton White (broken foot - may be out 2 to 4 more weeks); OG Tony Morales (knee injury - should be available); WR Marcus Kennard (groin - day to day); CB Cornelius Douglas (pulled abdominal muscle - 1 week).

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