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Tuesday Morning Notes - The McNeill Era

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Texas Tech Football:

This is pretty interesting, LAJ's Don Williams and DMN's Chuck Carlton both have interesting articles on the change at defensive coordinator where Leach opens up a little more about McNeill's promotion. Leach again points to Setencich's wife's condition for a reason as to the resignation and Leach's continued acknowledgment makes me believe that Setencich's heart just wasn't in it anymore and that's okay. I'm pretty sure that when I turn 60, and God willing, I'll be wearing a jump-suit everyday and my biggest decision will be which color I'm going to wear that day (yes, I'm serious about that).

Williams details that Sunday night, there was tackling, something that's typically been missing from Texas Tech practices:

Swapping Setencich for McNeill wasn't the only change Leach made Sunday. The Raiders immediately went out and worked on tackling during the Sunday night workout.

Leach has long espoused high repetition and limited contact to get his players prepared while keeping them healthy.

Asked whether the decision to work on tackling was his or something McNeill asked for, Leach said, "I think we all agreed with that. I think that (need) was pretty apparent."

The Raiders won't go from not hitting much to high level of contact, Leach said, but plans call for them to do some hitting during the Tuesday and Wednesday practices, which are the two longest workout days of the week.

Well, hot damn. It's interesting how the light went on for Leach. Leach is well-schooled in the school of thought that repetition on offense creates perfect performance, or at least theoretically. I pulled this from a post I did on Coach Leach and found Hal Mumme's Air Raid Practice Plan. I'm pretty sure that Leach has wholeheartedly adopted Mumme's philosophy regarding practice and perhaps here's the key (emphasis mine):

That old saying about you play like you practice is true. It was always my belief that five great reps of anything were worth more than ten mediocre reps. With this in mind, I encouraged our players to slow down their reps but to do them great. For example, if you have a QB and two WR working on the curl route don't rush through the drill just so you can say you got ten reps. It will be a lot more productive to have the WR walk back between reps, take there time, and have five great curl routes each one perfect. Hustle is fine but is not the only ingredient. Practice successful reps even if it means fewer reps.

I never wanted to practice anything that a player could not visualize doing in a game. The successful coach should look at every drill - be it individual, group, or team type - and ask himself if this will happen in a game. If this answer is no, throw it out, it is wasted motion, which means lost time . . .

Did Coach Leach get to a point with this team that he wanted to perfect the spread offense so much that it was to the detriment of the defense? Is the reason why the team is hitting in practice because Setencich is gone and McNeill is in place or is the change a result of Leach being accountable for the entire team? I can't figure this one out. Too many variables to consider as to the motivation.

Aside from my thoughts about hitting in practice, I applaud the move and I think most Texas Tech fans do as well.

Of course as I type the paragraph above I realize how silly a statement that is. Hitting in practice shouldn't be some sort of revolutionary procedure that we at Texas Tech are just now discovering, but we are.

As far the actual change in scheme here are some thoughts from Carlton on McNeill:

Monday, McNeill was busy watching film on the large-screen Sony in his office and meeting with assistants, a takeout lunch still untouched on his desk.

He said he wanted to build an aggressive, swarming defense as a counterpart to Tech's spread offense.

"They do a great job of moving the football and a great job of doing what they do," McNeill said. "We have to do a great job of upholding our end of the bargain."

McNeill acknowledged an emotional side that manifests itself in yelling, high-fives and even the occasional chest bump.

"Coach Ruffin is going to get in your face and he's going to yell at you a little bit more and make sure you do it right," cornerback Chris Parker said. "With cCoach [Setencich], it was more of that he would just expect you to know it."

Carlton reminds me of the comments that Setencich made last month and now I wonder if this was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, but I wonder how tongue-in-cheek this comment reallly was:

"They don't care about defense down here," Setencich told the World-Herald. "We're just here to practice against the offense. Mike wants to play good defense. But he's more interested in us just getting them the ball back."

FWST's Dwain Price has his own article on the McNeill's rise to defensive coordinator, much of the same that was written above, but there was this quote at the end of the story:

"My personality is I want -- when they watch us on film -- our defense to be known as a swarming defense that's physical and aggressive, that makes and finishes plays and causes turnovers," McNeill said. "That's something we've got to preach as coaches, and our players have to buy into it, and I think they did [Sunday] night."

I think this is what McNeill is talking about when it comes to a swarming defense that's physical and aggressive, that makes and finishes plays and causes turnovers (hat-tip to DTN reader Birddog):