Everything will feel different when fans pile in to Jones AT&T Stadium on Saturday for Texas Tech’s first spring game under new head coach Tommy Tuberville.
This will not be a practice or small scrimmage to watch. The fans will get the entertainment of seeing two squads compete for touchdowns, field position and points.
There won’t be a quarterback controversy to fill the air around West Texas for this one, but there will be plenty of talk about the new offense and defense, as well as faces some may not recognize.
Here are three things to watch for in this one.
1. Wide Open Field
Tech has been known just as much for its receivers over the years as it has its high-passing quarterbacks. With only Edward Britton missing from last year’s squad, be ready to see some new, younger players snag balls out of the air.
Now its no argument that Alex Torres has by far had one of the best springs out of the receivers, amazing fans and media members with one-handed grabs and over-the-shoulder catches that leave most people sounding like longtime baseball announcer Mel Ott: “How ’bout that?”
Torres will be joined by 2009 returnees Detron Lewis, Tramain Swindall, Lyle Leong and Austin Zouzalik, but make no mistake, no position is for certain right now. Be sure to take in what outside receiver Eric Ward has improved on in the last year, showing outside receivers coach Tommy Mainord his strong hands and raw talent off the edge.
The other will be Cornelius Douglas, who showed promise in practices last year but needed to work on his quickness of the line and discipline of understanding the routes better. If he makes any plays like his zig-zag play in last week’s scrimmage, dodging multiple tacklers on his way to the end zone, fans won’t be disappointed.
2. On The Line
The basic 3-4 scheme Tuberville and defensive coordinator James Willis implemented this spring is far from being a finished product and there have been plenty of casualties along the way. Defensive tackles (the three down linemen) Colby Whitlock and Chris Perry are out with injuries but will be back for the fall.
Bront Bird and Brian Duncan, who were both starting linebackers last year next to the departed Marlon Williams, have new roles with the new D. Bird made the switch to an inside position just two practices before the first scrimmage and has shown promise while Duncan will be seen on the outside linebacker position as well as along the line.
Sam Fehoka began to show glimpses of his talent last season near the end of the year and will more than likely become a staple with the linebackers.
Keep an eye on the cornerback battles among D.J. Johnson, LaRon Moore, Will Ford and Jarvis Phillips. Tuberville and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson said they already know what Moore can do but need to see if he can be that vital piece on nickel situations and covering the inside receivers.
3. A Look Into The Future
Fan get a chance to see the 2011 quarterback battle – minus incoming freshman Scotty Young – when Seth Doege and Jacob Karam take the snaps under center on Saturday.
Doege has somewhat of a slight advantage when it comes to playing time after starting his first game in four years last season. Doege also showed his arm strength and range in last week’s scrimmage, completing 29 of 52 passes for 301 yards and five scores. Karam was no slouch, hitting 11 of 33 passes for 184 yards and another five scores.
While there will be plenty of short passes that fans are familiar with, Tech is taking a page out of the baseball language once again, going for the long ball more often.
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