I'm guessing that the biggest forcus for coaches Kevin Curtis and Trey Haverty was to figure out where all of the parts went. I'm guessing that they probably moved a bunch of guys around and eventually settled on these players.
I can't really imagine a scenario that is different in terms of how these players are utilized. I do very much like Bruce Jones at field cornerback and Tre' Porter at free safety. I think I'm undecided about the rest, although admittedly, I wasn't unimpressed or thought that the secondary did a poor job during the spring game. I came away very much impressed overall with their play, their ability to tackle in open space, and their ability to cover.
Of course plays were made, long passes to a couple of receivers, but for the most part I couldn't have been more impressed with the secondary. And just like with the linebackers, I've got guys in spots, but other than what was released as part of the depth chart, these are just guesses, so don't read anything past the first two players.
Right? This is the one thing that this group lacks, other than Porter and maybe Jones. The options are perhaps talented, but inexperienced. That's problematic for a Big 12 that still passes more than enough to test these players almost every week. I don't know if I saw enough of Gaines and Falemi to be comfortable. I didn't think they played bad at all, I just don't seem to have enough of a basis about how they play, which is why Kingsbury went after two JUCO defensive backs in Crawford and Hill. It is interesting in that Crawford is supposed to be all cornerback, but Texas Tech really isn't used to that sort of size at cornerback and would seem to be better at safety. But then Hill is listed generally as only a safety.
This, of course, assumes that Crawford and Hill can play immediately, which I have doubts. I think that sometimes it takes time. I think you could say the same thing about Barnes, who the coaches touted in February as a freshman that could play immediately. I'm not going to hold my breath for that to be true because I think it takes a talented player to make that immediate transition. Plus, as inexperienced as Gaines is, Barnes is obviously more inexperienced at the college level.
There also seems to be some push about Dee Paul making an impact, maybe even starting, but I'm firmly in the camp of needing to see that before believing it happening. I think that Paul has elite athleticism, but to pencil him in as a possible starter seems incredibly premature. It's tough to make the jump from high school to college for players playing at a higher level than Munday. I think he has the size and ability to be a terrific field corner, which is supposed to be your best corner, but I don't know about Paul being able to lock down Big 12 receivers right now. Cornerback is a tough position to master and there's a lot of detail there to learn.
The purpose of this chart is to demonstrate the depth and eligibility remaining for returnign players. Any year marked black is a year that the player has available. A true freshman has five years of eligibility to include a possible redshirt year.
|Secondary Eligibility Remaining|
|29||Boundary Corner Olaoluwa Falemi||SR||5-9/157|
|4||Boundary Corner Derrick Mays||SR||5-11/175|
|14||Boundary Corner La'Darius Newbold||FR||5-11/190|
|22||Boundary Corner Dawson Gamble||FR||5-11/175|
|-||Boundary Corner Dorian Crawford||JR||6-2/200|
|24||Field Corner Bruce Jones||SR||5-7/171|
|23||Field Corner Jeremy Reynolds||SO||5-9/175|
|32||Field Corner Brandon Bagley||JR||5-10/155|
|36||Field Corner Theirry Nguema||FR||5-10/168|
|-||Field Corner Dee Paul||FR||5-11/160|
|5||Free Safety Tre' Porter||SR||6-0/202|
|35||Free Safety Keenon Ward||FR||5-9/189|
|-||Free Safety Martin Hill||JR||5-11/184|
|-||Free Safety Jalen Barnes||FR||6-0/181|
|-||Free Safety Justis Nelson||FR||6-2/180|
|41||Strong Safety J.J. Gaines||SO||5-10/180|
|30||Strong Safety Austin Stewart||JR||6-0/206|
|26||Strong Safety John White||SO||5-10/200|
|-||Strong Safety Summitt Hogue||SO||5-11/184|
|-||Strong Safety Caleb Woodward||FR||6-1/190|
A couple of notes about a couple of the walk-ons. John White is actually a guy that I think I've written about before, but he is a guy that was the 1A defensive MVP of the state his senior year, which was 2010. If you look at his biography for Texas Tech, he had a game where he recoreded 32 tackles and threw for 320 yards. So this is probably one of those situations, like Garrett Carter, where he's at a school that's just incredibly over-looked, but I don't think that a player makes that many tackles by mistake.
With Hogue, he's very much embraced his walk-on status and doing good things with it. He was one of the players that was featured earlier in the year for mentoring with elementary school kids. It's just a lunch, but sometimes it's more than just lunch. Just give back as much as you can.
KEY TO 2013
I really want for the key to 2013 to be to be better and that sounds as dumb as it was to type. But it's true. As much as we very much appreciated Davis, Johnson, Neboh, and Douglas, they just didn't make enough plays. For two years in a row, Texas Tech was last in the Big 12 in interceptions as Texas Tech had only 8 interceptiosn last year and 5 the year before that.
I suppose this is really symptimatic of the entire defense. Not enough plays being made, but it is especially true of Texas Tech. I've got my fingers crossed thinking that Curtis and Haverty can improve that statistic. And I know that some of not making plays on the ball was intentional, but still. This team needs turnovers and that really hasn't happened for two years in a row.
Meanwhile in Ft. Worth, Haverty was the coach that was part of a secondary that had 21 interceptions in 2012 alone, although they only had 10 in 2011. The same sort of thing could be said about Curtis' La. Tech secondaries, where they only had 10 in 2012, but 21 in 2012. At the very least, they have a year where they are getting the ball back for the offense and that was really one of this team's biggest problems the past few years. Not giving the ball back to the offense enough.