10 Thoughts on Texas Tech's Spring Game

US PRESSWIRE

Ten thoughts about the Texas Tech spring game, including thoughts on the maturation of Davis Webb and the depth of the defense.

Some of these are random, but all related to the spring game. I know that you all have already seen this, but the game stats (via Texas Tech) and recap (via Texas Tech) are all there. Plus, you can find links to a handful of recaps here:

Talbot: Kingsbury right dance partner for Tech | Red Raiders (Anyone know who NicholasTalbot is, the writer for this article?)
Tech football notes: Fehoko family makes impact on Tech program | Red Raiders
Williams: Wallerstedt has work cut out for him in year two | Red Raiders
Three takeaways from Tech's spring game | Red Raiders
A six-pack of thoughts from Tech’s spring game - Big 12 Sports

I've got the official site highlights in a couple of places through this post.

1. We Can Shut This Down: That offense is gonig to be pretty good and I think now I see what Kingsbury did, whether you agree with him or not. Kingsbury went with the guy with the greatest upside of all of the quarterbacks last year. That's not any sort of revelation, but I'm pretty sure this is what Kingsbury saw in Davis Webb, which was the ability to be, not just pretty good, but great. Webb gives Texas Tech the opportunity to be absolutely spectacular if he pans out the way that he's supposed to pan out. Not only that, but Webb's progression will be a shining example of what he can do to take a quarterback from A to B. Webb showed control of the offense and made every type of throw he could make. He really has come a long ways since this time last year where he was hurrying throws, throwing into coverage and just winging the football if he got pressured.

The offense, at least the passing offense, looks like we can pretty much shut it down. Next year, I'm not going to worry too much about the state of the offense and putting up enough points to keep pace. The offense wasn't spectacular, it was spectacularly efficient.

2. One Good Turn: Well, if the offense was spectacularly efficient, then the defense struggled, and they did on some level. I don't think I'm as down on them as some others, but there is work to do. I think the offense is much closer to being a finished product, while the defense still has some things that need improvement. A guy like Davis Webb fixes so many different things for a team, a good quarterback that can help receivers get open and running backs space, and sometimes that sort of thing isn't all that available on the offense. In that case, it takes a handful of players that get it done and I think there are parts and pieces, but it's not there just yet. Again, I don't think it was all that bad, but there isn't one guy on the defense that elevates everyone else. Someone that can be transcendent. I'd also add that I think there's a handful of guys on the offense that are game changes, but it is just going to take a bit longer on the defense.

I do think the depth is much better than I imagined and that's a positive. Last year, just about any injury meant serious issues, but these guys, from one through three on the depth chart, I think they are all more ready to play. Getting all of these guys acclimated takes time and that wasn't happening in year one, but it is happening in year two.

3. Let's Focus On Individual Defenders: Donte Phillips continues to improve. He's a guy. That's a good thing. This team needs some guys. He gets a good push and he's initiating contact. He's got good strength and I'll be surprised if he doesn't get in the rotation. He's ready. I thought that Jackson Richards played well too. He's a guy as well. He's not going to be a world beater or anything like that, but he is smart and plays smart gap-assignment football. I was also impressed with Demetrius Alston and Keland McElrath.  They're going to contribute.  Branden Jackson does look bigger, even though it was from the stands, he's put on pounds. I think he needs to still get stronger, but he's adding some pounds. Gary Moore had a bad penalty and he got sufficiently yelled at for it, but he's got some moves. I very much like Moore there over Zach Barnes at this point. I think Moore is the better prospect, but Barnes has something. Collin Bowen is a big and smooth athlete. He is tall and he runs as smooth as any linebacker on this team. He's just scratched the surface athletically.

Keenan Ward is aggressive and a good tackler and he's making significant progress. I really want to focus on the safety play when re-watching the video. And Josh Keys is going to provide some good competition. The cornerbacks have a tough task, and much like the safeties, I want to take a look at them in a bit more detail. The things that I like about them is that they are all faster and bigger the same thing as mentioned above, is that there is more depth there. Generally speaking, I think I feel okay about everything. The thing that I was thinking last year was that the defense just needed to keep pace. To force some turnovers and let the offense do it's thing. That was assuming a pretty good offense, or better offense than what was run out there last year. I think this defense can keep pace next year.

4. Lots of Recruits: Just a ton of kids there taking visits, whether official or unofficial. All of the big names. Jarrett Stidham and Brieden Fehoko sat next to each other during the game. And just like the Fehoko's have always done, since Sam was at Texas Tech, the entire family is awesome and they bring their culture to Texas Tech. It's a cool thing. They do the Haka dance and they bring leis for everyone and it's just a whole family affair. It's great. And that's just the two "name" guys. There were more players there than I really could keep track of. It was terrific seeing so many kids there. Most of these kids have a good time at every campus and every college, so I think it is about differentiating yourself from the pack. That's not always easy. I think Texas Tech has as good a shot as anybody with Fehoko, maybe the best shot of anyone. I don't know if the Fehoko Family spends a week anywhere else other than Lubbock because of F.J. and Sam being in Lubbock. I also think it is about being embraced by the family and Texas Tech does as good as anywhere else.

5. Mike Mitchell Sighting: Former 5-star or 4-star recruit, who was at Ohio St. last year and redshirted, Mike Mitchell was in Lubbock for the spring game. Mitchell decided to transfer and apparently his father is battling some healthy issues and wants to be closer to Texas (via Cleveland). That's a good link for some good thoughts about players transferring, in particular Mitchell. Texas Tech having Mitchell on campus was a complete shock to me, in fact MikeTTU showed me a tweet during the game and I am pretty sure I sat there slack-jawed in disbelief. I suppose I need to get used to this sort of thing. This is hopefully the new normal and not the exception to the rule. I have no idea if Mitchell will really play for Texas Tech and there will be a ton of schools looking to add Mitchell. If he's wanting to get back to Texas, there are a handful of colleges all with scholarships available.

6. Texas Tech Has a Hype Man: I am not going to do this justice, I'm just not. If you were there, then you know what I'm talking about, but there was a guy that got on the microphone a handful of times during the game and he was was a hype man. A guy there to deliver some energy to the crowd and pump people up. It was nothing short of awesome and every time he spoke, it giggled like a school girl. There was one time that the sponsor was some local attorney that's called the Gorilla Law Firm. I don't exactly remember what he said, but I'm pretty sure that he called the Gorilla Law Firm a monkey or something. And then the sponsor was McDonald's and he asked some random dude what his favorite McDonald's meal was and the hype man's response was "WOOOOOO!". I ain't even playing. It was glorious. Maybe he was the full-time D.J., I don't know.

7. Meeting Famous People: I met MikeTTU for breakfast and it was great. We at at The Pancake House it was great to get to know him. Sitting right next to us was Baron Batch, so when we got done, I introduced myself to Baron and it was cool. I told him that I wrote this post about him and also this and he said he remembered that, which was really great for me. It's always good for people to remember the things that you write. I told Baron that I was appreciative of the work he did in Haiti and told him that I had adopted from Ethiopia and soon-to-be from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I didn't want to interrupt his breakfast any more than I did, so I thanked him and his breakfast partner for letting us intrude and Michael and I had some errands to run (I had to buy sunscreen, because I am a delicate flower). Then, on our way to the stadium, with LoneStarRedRaider, Mrs. LoneStarRedRaider and ttuvault, here comes Spike Dykes and as you might expect, he's met a million people during his lifetime and is is as gracious as you would expect. He had a great first line to LoneStarRedRaider, who immediately told him that he outkicked his coverage in regards to his lovely wife. High fives for everyone.

8. VTMer's Everywhere: Literally, it started with oldschool and ttuvault and remington and blackbeard and LoneStarRedRaider and MikeTTU and DoubleTFaithful. And there are folks that I'm forgetting and I got to talk to a bunch of people and it was great and I'm so happy that I got to meet and see so many of you. Seriously, I can't do this without you and seeing you all makes me happy (and I wish I was better with names).

9. Let's Talk a Bit About that Offense: I thought both groups of lines were pretty tight. The first unit was better than the second, but the second unit wasn't all that bad. I thought from a protection standpoint, they were really good. Maybe just 1 sack in 37 attempts, maybe another, but it was generally pretty good. I'm going to have a hot sports opinion that I'll need to explain in better detail later, but I think that Le'Raven Clark has issues run blocking and maybe there really is something to moving him inside. He just doesn't seem as aggressive as I thought that he could be. He wasn't bad, but I think he's gotten so used to being that left tackle that can't let anyone get to the quarterback that he's trained himself to be just a guy that pass blocks. I'm not sure, maybe I'm wrong, but maybe there's something to mixing this up a bit. Again, the running game just hasn't had much of anything this spring and I'm afraid of the for the spring. It just hasn't been there and again, maybe this is why Lee Hays is looking towards those JUCO guys to make an impact.

There's so much speed on the field, it's going to be something new. It's going to really be a bit unfair on some level, but it's going to be different. I don't know of Neal Brown really ever had the ability to really go NASCAR, but this is going to be a different level. He never really had the flat out speed except for Javon Bell that's at the disposal of Kingsbury. Davis, Lauderdale, Grant, Marquez, Polite-Bray, Edwards, Corker etc. It's great to have competition that goes past two-deep.

10. There Are Reinforcements on the Way: The best thing is that Texas Tech has reinforcements on their way in the areas that need the most help, offensive line and defensive line. Texas Tech looks more like a Big 12 team from 1 through 3 than they have in a long time. That was the biggest take-away from me, which is that this looks just more competent and I didn't feel that way last year. With the additional JUCO guys heading this way that should help along the line, then I think we're talking about a legitimate two-deep without any true freshmen in the mix. Maybe other than quarterback where that's a necessity. That's a good thing. You don't want to have to rely on freshmen and if just one of the JUCO offensive linemen pan out and if just two of the defensive linemen can add to the depth, then I'm pretty happy with how this thing is going to turn out next year. Much of it is going to be dependent on where Webb progresses, but if Webb progresses like I think he will, then I think that this is a 9 win team, without a question.

10.a. Allison Working Wonders with Double-T Varsity Club: I’m not exactly sure how this went, but if you were a letterwinner and you went to the spring game, you were invited to sit in the box seats. ttuvault had an extra ticket for me to go up there, but I didn’t want to leave TTUMike and LSRR (and anyone else) that was sitting in the stands. It would have been pretty cool because I’ve never been up there before (I have been up on the East side for lunch). Allison is doing something right. I haven’t heard a bad word about what Allison is doing with the Double-T Varsity Club. The number of alumni back was astounding. This doesn’t normally happen at Texas Tech, but they all came back in droves. Droves, I tell you.

10.b.  Best Weekend Ever.

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