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Red Raider Gridiron: Key Spring Battles; Chiaverini Selected for Academy

We take a look at some key position before spring practice starts. Darrin Chiaverini is one of thirty coaches selected for a coaches academy and ESPN ranks the Big 12's defensive backs.

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Key Battles. DMN's Tommy Magelssen has his key position battles, which include quarterback, right tackle, middle linebacker and flanker (i.e. z-receiver).  Here's the portion for inside linebacker:

New defensive coordinator David Gibbs will run more four-man fronts, switching away from the 3-4 scheme Texas Tech ran the past two seasons under Matt Wallerstedt and Mike Smith. The Red Raiders lost their two starting middle linebackers to graduation, V.J. Fehoko and Sam Eguavoen, but both their backups bring in a bevy of experience: Micah Awe and Sam Atoe. Awe plays with a chip on his shoulder and has earned his playing time and logged 139 tackles his first three season. Atoe was a junior college transfer who didn't have the numbers that Awe did, but made his mark on special teams. While Awe appears to be the No. 1 option heading into spring, don't discount wildcard Mike Mitchell. Though he is just a sophomore and has no game experience, he is a former five-star recruit who transferred to Texas Tech from Ohio State after his freshman season. Kingsbury said it will be hard to keep a player like Mitchell off the field.

Okay, I think this is a bit of an issue that we may end up fighting for the better part of the offseason, but I'm pretty sure that in watching film, Houston really ran more 3-4 looks with a stand-up defensive end / outside linebacker, so I don't really think that Texas Tech is really going to be running a 4-man front and defensive coordinator David Gibbs has said that he'll run whatever works.  I think someone mentioned that they spoke to Gibbs at one of the recruiting reviews and Gibbs said that there would be a stand-up pass-rusher.  Of course, that can change on the opponent, but this is just something to watch to see how this gets played out through the year.  I don't think Gibbs or anyone else has said that Gibbs "will" run more 4-man fronts and I think Gibbs has said that he will be pretty flexible.

Chiaverini Selected for NFL and NCAA Coaches Academy. I originally found this with the Big 12 site, so congrats to special teams and wide receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini for being selected for the NFL and NCAA Coaches Academy! It's a lot of networking and he's only one of thirty selected:

At the academy, coaches are trained in a variety of areas that encourage effective coaching and improve the athletes' well-being at both the college and professional levels. The coaches gain knowledge from workshops and interactive discussions. Topical education and conversation during the academy can include: effective communication with campus and community constituents; the importance of building a culture focused on the overall success of athletes on and off the field; budget management of a football program; coaching strategies and philosophies.

Pre-Spring Big 12 Defensive Backs. The ESPN Big 12 blog bros are ranking the positions and yesterday it was defensive backs, where Texas Tech is #8:

8. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders return the entire two-deep from a secondary that held up reasonably well. Of course, opponents were also merely content to just hand the ball off most of the time against Tech's porous run defense. Still, this secondary has potential. Cornerback Nigel Bethel II leads the way in the potential department. After serving a three-game suspension he held his own as a true freshman starter. Bethel II, Justis Nelson and Tevin Madison, who was also a true freshman last season, have promise and a ton of experience for their age. If they can stay healthy, Keenon Ward and J.J. Gaines have the chance to form a competent safety duo. ESPN 300 signee Jamile Johnson Jr. could be an immediate factor there, too.

Miscellaneous. Football Study Hall has the receiver stats for 2014, the only ones mentioned on this page are Bradley Marquez and Jakeem Grant, the biggest number for me is that Grant had a catch rate of 60.9%, which isn't on the good side of things, and Marquez was at 63.7%, which is sorta in the middle . . . . West Virginia was slapped with a two year NCAA probation for recruiting violations . . . congrats to Joel Filani who is joining Mike Leach at Washington State an an offensive quality control assistant . . . per the DT, Texas Tech will not be raising the student ticket prices . . .