Friday Night Isolation: LAJ's Don Williams writes about the routine that the football program goes through each Friday night, which is going to the team hotel. DC Ruffin McNeill likes to isolate the team:
"I think you have to isolate the main core of the team,’’ said McNeill, the Texas Tech defensive coordinator. "They have got to be on the same page and have the same amount of football focus time as a group — as well as the coaches. It keeps us on the same page for a 48-hour period.’’
It was also fairly interesting to see Captain Mike Leach's comments regarding the proposed California legislation to outlaw (I like the word "outlaw") this practice:
"They act like it’s an unreasonable extravagance,’’ Leach said. "What about the burden on student-athletes having to go out there and perform in front of tens of thousands, furthermore, on national TV and not be able to put their best foot forward because they can’t get a good night’s sleep? It’s crazy. It’s crazy to the point I would like to meet the individuals in the Pac-10 that were foolish enough to propose it.’’
Influencing Academics: DT's Jon Vanderlaan writes about how Leach has positively affected the academics since he's been the head coach:
"I’ve got more degrees than I use. Than I know what to do with, really. And at one time more than I could afford," he said. "There’s no question you should have high academics. And there should be no excuse for not graduating people."
Despite the occasional temptation to be territorial between academics and athletics, Leach said, he supports the academic departments because it is another part of the university that enhances the quality of life for the students.
"I think attention to the university in general is very positive," he said. "For example, if someone looks to Tech for engineering or something like that and gets excited for our football team, that helps me. Just like if someone gets excited for the football team and looks at our math department, that helps our math department."
I love that this program graduates players and holds players accountable for their grades. Very proud of that.
Football Notebook: LAJ's Don Williams' notebook has the note that RG Brandon Carter will play in the East-West Shrine Game, which is scheduled for January 23, 2010 in Florida . . . a number of players were honored by being named to the academic All-Big 12 team:
First-team honorees were those with a grade-point average of 3.2 or higher. From Tech, those were linebacker Bront Bird (business major), cornerback Taylor Charbonnet (general business), safety Cody Davis (business), defensive tackle David Neill (human development and family studies), guard Mickey Okafor (pre-dental), tackle Chris Olson (general business), quarterback Taylor Potts (pre-physical therapy), flanker Alex Torres (general business) and inside receiver Austin Zouzalik (general business).
Second-team honorees were those with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.19. From Tech, those were kicker-punter Donnie Carona (general business) and defensive end Brandon Sharpe (human development and family studies).
. . . DC Ruffin McNeill talks about DB Trent Nickerson and LB Chris Wallace each getting a play during Saturday's game against Oklahoma because of their commitment to the team:
"Senior, great leader,’’ McNeill said Tuesday. "Great enthusiast on the sideline. He’s a guy who knew his role on the football team, accepted his role and took it to another level. He always has great support for whoever’s playing on offense, defense or special teams. He’s been a scout-team guy for us and gave us great looks.’’
Baylor Bear and Big 12 Links: Waco Tribune's John Werner writes that the Bears are bowing out earlier than expected, but in grand style at Jerry's World . . . the SAEN looks at the 8 teams that have a shot at playing the Alamo Bowl . . .
First Non-Conference Win on the Road Since 2006: That's all you really need to know. The game looked well in hand for a good part of the first half and second half, but the SFA Lumberjacks came storming back in the second half. This is the sort of game that we would have talked about had Texas Tech lost the game, even if it was close, but with a 1 point win, I don't know that we'll be talking about this game in a month. If this game were a loss, it would be discussed until the end of the season. As far as game-play is concerned, G David Tairu didn't have a huge game, but he did his the 3-pointer that put the game away. There was a point late in the game where Tairu chastised SF Mike Singletary for taking an ill-advised shot late in the game, when Tairu was incredibly open. It's interesting to see that dynamic with Tairu being one of the new guys but feeling comfortable correcting his teammates. Tairu is probably the most fundamentally sound player I've seen for Texas Tech, on both sides of the ball. I'd be completely fine if the offense ran through Tairu as I think he has the makeup to be that sort of player.
The thing that bothers me the most is that I'm not sure that this team has a guy that knows how or wants to set up his teammates. Right now there's a lot of one-on-one and not much offensive flow. I'm struggling as to why this team, which has a core players who have been around for 3 years, can't figure out how to get guys involved. Offensively, this team is frustrating so long as there isn't one guy willing to take the team on their back.
Defensively, there were frustrating points for sure. Singletary and Roberson still have their defensive lapses and I think there was 4 points that Singletary gave up because he simply lost his man under the basket . . . twice. I thought that for the most part, Tairu, PF Darko Cohadarevic, SF D`Walyn Roberts and SF Brad Reese all looked good defensively.
Darko's Big Night: LAJ's Courtney Linehan focuses on Cohadarevic leading this team with 18 points and 3 boards. Here's head coach Pat Knight on his depth and the play of Darko:
"Lew and Corbin, they gave us some good minutes, then Darko got his stuff together on the bench, came back in and played well," Knight said. "I think that’s the best thing, if your kid’s struggling, the bench is almost like brain surgery."
And Darko knows that he must rebound better:
"I should go for boards more," he said. "This should not happen again."
Linehan has a notebook with this quote from PK:
"It’s huge. They say you can’t take anybody lightly on the road, even after you built a big lead you think it’s over, but they’re able to hang on like that," he said. "We got down early, came back, got the lead, got a big lead, let them back in. It will help us prepare for the Big 12."
. . . PF Corbin Ray returned after suffering a concussion in a pre-season scrimmage . . . Darko takes some of the blame on himself for trying to post-up too much rather than screen for teammates:
"After I hit the 17-foot jumper, I thought for a second, they’re not guarding me. Then after I got the post move under them they fouled me and I realized they cannot guard me low because I’m technically sound. I realized I’ve got to post up. Later on I got lost a little bit, I posted up too much, and the coaches wanted me to down screen away, down screen, flare screen to get other guys open, but I got caught up in posting up too much. I can take the blame for them catching up our 15-point lead because of that."