- Legitimate Big 12 Athletes: This was probably my biggest takeaway from the day. I’ve already told you that I’m going all in this year and with my rose colored glasses, I thought a handful of times that the defense isn’t running out a couple of guys that can actually plan and then running out a defense that’s held together with some duct tape, baling wire and Elmer’s glue. I’m going to to ahead and need everyone to get up on that hype train with me because I absolutely believe that there’s some legitimate Big 12 athletes on this defense. I’m not predicting that the defense is going to be top 20 or 50 or whatever, but the defense is going to be better. The guys on the defense are bigger, they don’t look over-matched. And the defense doesn’t even have what is likely the two starting linebackers in Dakota Allen and Jordyn Brooks playing this spring. I thought guys that were running with the second team were good, Tony Jones and Jamile Johnson and Christian Taylor. They all looked like they could play and they were playing behind Brayden Stringer D’Vonta Hinton.The defensive backfield doesn’t look undersized and mis-matched, they look like Big 12 defenders. The defensive ends don’t look like they’re 30 pounds underweight, they look like they’re legitimate players with legitimate size. The problem with starting over with the defense like Texas Tech did is that you’ve got to get the size component before you can really compete and I think the size component is finally there. Not declaring the defense to be back, but the size component. That’s significant for me.
- Shimonek Should Be Fine: Shimonek was 26 of 33 for 273 yards, 3 touchdowns and no picks. That was a pretty good line and despite any praise for the defense, I never would have guessed that Shimonek was that efficient. That’s 79% passing for 8.2 yards per pass and given the strange situations that the offense and defense are in during the day (it’s a lot of situational stuff, so it’s not always first down). Shimonek was probably sacked a couple of times and I also think there were a couple of offensive holding penalties that I thought should have been called and weren’t and that would have been interesting to watch Shimonek try to get out of that.
- Don’t Expect The Same on Third Downs: Last year, Texas Tech was an amazing 51% on third downs and I think Texas Tech will most likely come back to earth in 2017. That’s not a knock on Shimonek, who was apparently 52% on third downs on Saturday, but without a significant running game, I don’t know that Texas Tech will be able to grind out those yards. Kyle already mentioned that the running game wasn’t really all that great on Saturday and that was true. The addition of Desmon Nisby will hopefully add some power to the running game.And in my own personal opinion, I still think that Demarcus Felton is the best option at running back. Justin Stockton didn’t play this weekend because of a head injury (and he just tied the knot last weekend I think with his long-time girlfriend, so he could have the weekend off just for that reason as well).
- The Rest of the QB’s: I’m guessing that everyone has written that Texas Tech has a good starting quarterback, but there are questions with the other three. If Shimonek goes down, it’s not going to be pretty. McLane Carter is rough and just isn’t seeing the entire field. He’s got nice athleticism, but when Kingsbury said that Carter needs to get in the film room more, I’d agree with that. He’s got work to do to master the offense. Payne Sullins is an okay option, and I think ahead of Carter, but he doesn’t have a strong arm and so the playbook seems a bit limited. Xavier Martin is fun as hell and I think if he has enough time, he’s going to be fun as hell when he actually sees meaningful playing time. Martin is like buying a Porsche (or insert any other fast car that you’ve never driven before) and not knowing exactly what it can do and how to handle it. You just don’t get all of the capabilities of a Porsche unless you’ve driven one and seen how fast it can go. That’s Martin. Martin is mechanical right now, but he’s a true freshman and the way he dropped in that pass to Bowman was terrific. It was a bit mechanical, but there won’t be anyone that can play-action pass to keep defenses honest like Martin will be able to do.
- Defensive Backfield Will be Better: Gibbs really does have some options now and they’re pretty good. I thought the star of last week’s scrimmage, D.J. Polite-Bray, had the roughest game of the bunch. The pass interference on him was a bad call and he’s got to figure out how to look back when he’s got Willies pinned in the endzone. But I really like the options that Gibbs has and I think there’s a legitimate 10 players back there that I think can actually play. Long lost Payton Hendrix even looked okay.Jah’Shawn Johnson, Desmon Smith, Justus Parker, Octavius Morgan, Jaylon Lane, Douglas Coleman, Vaughnte Dorsey, Kisean Allen, etc. They all bring something.
- Who Is Justis Parker? Parker is a transfer from Texas Lutheran and he played in one game last year, with his freshman season at Texas Lutheran. As a freshman, he earned first team all- Southern Collegiat Athletic Conference and first team all conference defense. He also apparently likes Magic the Gathering card game, so I’m sure that Parker and Tim Duncan can hang out sometime in the future. Aside from that, Parker also had two tipped passes, a near interception on one of them, and he’s got some athletic ability at safety.
- Deep at Receiver:I can’t remember a time where Texas Tech was more deep at receiver. It’s a bit ridiculous. Aside from the main players, it was good to see some of the freshman from last year look more consistent. T.J. Vasher looks more coordinated as does Antoine Wesley. De’Quan Bowman looked terrific on the go route where he connected with Xavier Martin for 46 yards. Tony Brown looks like a natural at inside receiver, although he did drop one I think, but the pass was behind him a bit.
- Grown Men on the Defensive Line: Nick McCann, Joe Wallace, Broderick Washington, Eli Howard, Lonzell Gilmore, Mychealon Thomas, Kolin Hill and Kaleb Hill all look like grown men. Even Nelson Mbanasor looks like a grown man. I can’t tell you how excited I am about that. The defensive line held their own. The backside pursuit was something terrific, especially for the defensive ends and especially Gilmore who was just great. Howard really is good with his hands, while a combination of McCann, Wallace, Washington adn Thomas can all play significant parts this year.
- What to Think of the Offensive Line: I’m a bit town here. There were times that the offensive line looked tighter and better than last year. They still can’t move bodies around very well to physically dominate and this adds to my worries at running back. I do think the group is more cohesive and I like that. I do think that Brandon Jones is a good coach. Jack Anderson looks great pulling and I didn’t think that Paul Stawarz had a ton of issues at center.
- Rangy Linebackers: I loved the play fo the linebackers. D’Vonta Hinton didn’t get too involved, but you can see the range of Tony Jones and Braden Stringer isn’t afraid to stick his nose in any situation. Jamile Johnson looks like a Big 12 linebacker and Christian Taylor looks like a hybrid safety rather than a linebacker right now.