The spring game starts at 11:00 am on Saturday, April 12th and the official site has your official details (via Texas Tech).
These are my top five questions heading into the spring game.
1. Can the Cornerbacks Keep Up? It seems that the cornerbacks that may have separated themselves a bit are Thierry Nguema, Dee Paul, Tyler Middleton, Justis Nelson and La’Darius Newbold. This deftly coincides with item #3 below and if the receivers aren’t getting separation, then this is a good thing for Texas Tech at the cornerback spot. Admittedly, I think that the cornerbacks are going to get beat because that's what happens, but it will be interesting to watch how the cornerbacks are running with this group of receivers. I think that generally speaking, this group of receivers are pretty fast and they are going to test a lot of cornerbacks this year. I won’t at all be surprised if they get beat, but it’s how they react and how they play that’s important. Who is running stride for stride with the receivers or who is getting beat on a consistent basis. It seems that Nelson has locked up Field Cornerback, with Dee Paul as the likely backup, and perhaps the more significant question is who is going to step up to Boundary Cornerback.
2. Who is Making the Most Impact at Defensive Line? For the better part of the spring, we’ve heard that Demetrius Alston has been the best defensive lineman this year, but all of these guys should really be setting themselves up to be a part of this year’s rotation. I’ll be interested to see how Jackson Richards plays and how he plays his gap, as well as Alston. Aside from those two guys, it is imperative that some of these back-ups make their case, Donte Phillips and Anthony Smith are about to get lapped if they don’t make some noise. Perhaps Phillips has done the best job thus far in getting some ink this spring, but we really haven’t heard much of anything about either of them. Keland McElrath is still getting used to playing at a high level and fast pace. Not only that, if Branden Jackson isn’t playing defensive end, then how is Zach Barnes filling in his shoes. Not only that, but we haven’t heard from Gary Moore all spring (I think because of a injury, but we still haven’t heard his name).
3. Are the Wide Receivers Getting Deep? This part goes with the cornerbacks. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury has said a couple of times this year that a big part of the offense is getting more vertical. That previously, the offense was only working within a 20 yard box and he probably wants to be working within a 30 yard box. That means higher yards per attempt and if we’re talking about higher yards per attempt then that means the receivers have got to beat their coverage. Devin Lauderdale, Reginald Davis, Dominique Wheeler, Derreck Edwards, Dylan Cantrell, Shawn Corker, etc. Whoever it is, they need to be able to beat the cornerback and force the safety to make a decision. That’s going to help the offense better than just about anything else (sans item #5).
4. Who is Leading the Charge at Linebacker? Other than Sam Eguavoen and Micah Awe, I’m not sure what Texas Tech has at the linebacker spot. I’m excited how quickly Kenny Williams can make reads and if Collin Bowen is a capable backup. I’m interested to see if Kris Williams is capable of rushing off the edge. Is Kahlee Woods the future replacement at weakside linebacker? What is Malik Jenkins going to be for this team? What is V.J. Fehoko going to add to this team, from a talent perspective and from a leadership perspective? Lots of questions, huh? And that’s not even all of the players, that’s just the ones that I can think of off the top of my head.
5. Is the Offensive Line Opening Holes? This is my biggest concern. It is silly for me to think this, but I really want the offensive line to open up holes for the running game. Running games add consistency and I like consistency. I can’t help it, it’s part of my DNA. Don’t get me wrong, I love the wide open passing attack, but combine the two and it’s almost always going to be lethal and I really want that for this team. I’m worried about whether or not the offense can really get the punch that I think needs to happen to run the ball. Most teams don’t have 285 pound right tackles and the backups are also at the same range offensively, which bothers me (I’m writing more about this rather than this short blurb). I don’t know if added size can make things better or just time, but this is something that I think I really want to see be better.
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