Back to Earth: After a highly energetic opening practice on Monday, the Red Raiders predictably returned to more normal levels of adrenalin on Tuesday. The second straight day of baking heat and high—by west Texas standards—humidity might have had something to do with that.
Receivers on an Uptick: On Monday there were altogether too many dropped balls. There were still probably too many today, but the receivers and backs still hung onto the ball better than they did yesterday.
Quarterback Report: After a weak opening practice, Michael Brewer was a little sharper today. Not to say that he was a John Elway clone, but his passes were more accurate.
Seth Doege was flawless on Monday, and for the first half of Tuesday's workout, looked like he could do no wrong. Then the turnover bug bit. It all began in skeleton drills when Cody Davis picked a Doege offering that glanced off of Jace Amaro's hands. A few plays later Happiness Osunde snared a high Doege pass intended for Eric Ward. Then, on The Opening play of team drills, defensive end Branden Jackson blew through a convoy of blockers and intercepted a Doege screen.
Not all was Doege's fault though. Amaro could have caught the ball that was picked by Davis, and Jackson's theft was just a freakishly athletic play. Still, Doege's perfect August is no more.
Tackling a Priority—What a Concept! It may seem like the most obvious thing from a defensive coordinator, but Art Kaufman is serious about tackling. For the first time in my memory—which dates to spring of 2005—Tech's linebackers worked on tackling dummies and they actually tackled the dummies! This wasn't a case of just hitting a sled. The linebackers fired into the dummies and brought them to the turf as quickly as possible. Blake Dees, who looks like Tech's most physical linebacker, excelled here.
Later Kaufman led the linebackers through a much more finessed tackling drill where he very quietly but urgently instructed his charges on proper pursuit angles and form. Kaufman's approach is very low-key compared to Chad Glasgow's, but one can tell the players pay close attention to him.
Amaro Not There Yet: Above I noted that the receivers caught the ball better today. One exception to the rule was inside receiver Jace Amaro who dropped at least three catchable balls, one of which resulted in an interception. At this point in his career, Amaro can be counted on to make the routine catches, but on anything that's the least bit difficult there's a 50-50 chance he will not reel it in.
On a related note, Tyson Williams, Amaro's back up at Y receiver, had a mediocre outing after doing very well Monday. He simply had a difficult time separating from coverage. In one instance from skeleton drills where D. J. Johnson blanketed him and knocked down the ball, Williams complained loudly and protractedly about Johnson's alleged holding. It looked like a good defensive play to me.
Ringing the Bell: Javon Bell shows signs of developing into a serious deep threat for the Red Raiders. During skelly he torched Cornelius Douglas—no mean feat—on a deep go route, and a couple of plays later did the same to Tre' Porter. Neal Brown has told me that "if Bell is not the fastest player on the team, he's in the conversation." After today, Bell is making a believer out of me.
Joltin' Jakeem: Freshman receiver Jakeem Grant is only five-foot-six and 165 pounds, but pound for pound is probably one of the toughest players on the team. He will flat out get after much larger players while trying to make a block, and we're not even in pads yet.
You Don't Want to Be Out of Shape: Toward the end of Joe Walker's Torture Session, defensive ends Mike Starts and Chris Knighton reached the end of their rope. After repeatedly pushing a blocking sled 20 yards or so, both were in a state of semi-collapse. There wasn't any sympathy to be had from coach Robert Prunty though. He kept on driving them. Fortunately practice ended before Starts and Knighton fell out entirely.