Texas Tech’s spring game is set for a 12:00 pm start time on this Saturday, April 16th at Jones AT&T Stadium. We look at five things I’ll be looking at for that game.
1. How is the Offensive Line Holding Up? There’s lots of new pieces at the offensive line, at some of the most important spots. Terence Steele might have the inside track to the left tackle spot, but I don’t at all expect Madison Akamnonu to go away any time soon. Add in a new center and a new left guard, maybe either Steele or Akamnonu, and we have a group that should really excel on Saturday. Or maybe we’ll see a different combination than we saw in Midland, which included Tony Morales, Paul Stawarz and Baylen Brown. Maybe this will be a deep group, especially when Justin Murphy returns. Should be fun.
2. Don’t Focus on the Overall Defensive Line Play. With an under-sized and undermanned defensive line, it’s probably not going to be real useful to actually grade the defensive line based on the yards they give up. Just consider that Lonzell Gilmore is playing defensive tackle at 250 or so in order to give the team a bit more depth. What you should focus on is the individual performances of each player on the line. Perhaps collectively, it won’t all look great, but maybe it will look better Ondre Pipkins gets some time and can help a bit inside. I can’t wait to see Kolin Hill in action. How is Gary Moore holding up at that rush end, especially as he is paired up with Hill?
3. How is the Play of the Defensive Backs? I think this is the weakest position group on the team and it’s going up against one of the strongest positions of the team. I think I’ve read that Justis Nelson is playing the nickel spot, but who is going to play the other two cornerback spots? How is D.J. Polite-Bray and Paul Banks? How are they breaking on the ball? What about the maturation of Jah’Shawn Johnson? Is he playing the pass better and not biting on play-fakes? What about the range of Payton Hendrix? Is he able to support the run as well as the pass. Who is pairing up with Keenan Ward at the second team safety spot (assuming he’s running with the second team?
4. Who is Making a Move at Wide Receiver? I think I feel pretty comfortable at the inside receiver spots, but what about those outside guys. How is Derrick Willies transitioning? Are they being pressured at the line of scrimmage and if they are, are they getting off the initial pressure and breaking free? How does Dylan Cantrell look on the outside? Is he able to get separation on Texas Tech’s defensive backs? Is Reginald Davis putting the time in for each and every play? Is Tony Brown making a move as a more consistent threat. As you may recall, he had the lowest catch-rate for the receivers and he needs to improve upon that. This is also Emmett Jones debut as the wide receivers coach (I know that Midland was technically the debut) and I’ll be watching as to how crisp the routes are being run as well.
5. How Are Shimonek and Duffey? It seems like we’re all pretty comfortable with Patrick Mahomes, but like a lot of you, I’ll be interested to see how the back-ups compete. Nik Shimonek has waited a full year to be eligible to play and after he sat out the Midland scrimmage, I bet he’s ready to let things go a bit. Last year, he was hurried for pretty much the entire scrimmage and didn’t get a real clean look. Jett Duffey apparently had a rough start in Midland, but redeemed himself with some deep passes to make the overall numbers look good. Duffey will have to become more adept at reading the short stuff that’s available underneath. That’s tough to see because there’s more defenders there lurking for interceptions.
Those are my five things, would love to know what you’ll be focusing on during Saturday’s scrimmage.