Texas Tech Football Things: Defense Comes Out on Top in Midland Scrimmage; Recap

The three scrimmages are offense vs. defense with a modified scoring system, where the defense receives points for making the offense go 3 & out while the offense receives points for various items that aren’t necessarily touchdowns. The defense won, 50-36 and you can read the official site recap.

 LAJ’s Don Williams writes that the offense started with four straight three-and-outs and the offense only scored two touchdowns in normal drives, a 24 yard touchdown pass from Nic Shimonek to Zach Austin and a 5 yard touchdown pass from Nic Shimonek to Dylan Cantrell.

It sounds as if the offensive line gave up way too many pressure sacks because the defense blitzed and maybe showed them some things that they weren’t used to seeing:

“I think we’re fine,” Cantrell said. “The O-line’s still a bunch of young guys that this is really their second time to go live at the college level. They’re getting a lot of experience, so we’re going to get better from there. I think we settled down and came out and had a better second half.”

Backup defensive end Noah Jones was credited with two touch sacks and defensive tackles Broderick Washington and Joe Wallace with one apiece, all in the first half. The four three-and-outs at the outset came with Shimonek and Carter quarterbacking two series apiece.

“I think they were doing some stuff (defensively),” Shimonek said. “They blitzed a little more than they usually do. Also, I think we just had to settle down. I don’t know if we were nervous. … Kind of collectively, we weren’t dialed in like we should’ve been.”

It sounds as if the offensive line struggled to protect the quarterbacks, a theme we saw all of last year for the most part, but thanks to Patrick Mahomes escapability, the numbers weren’t as bad. But the defense had 4 sacks in the first half alone, which is great for he defense and a positive move for sure.

LAJ’s Williams also has a notebook of items, with the headliner being that T.J. Vasher received a medical redshirt for last year, so he’s officially a redshirt freshman this year. That’s great news for sure. Williams highlighted the play of Zach Austin, who had 6 catches for 68 yards and a touchdown, and also the play of D.J. Polite-Bray, who had 5 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss and has played much more aggressive this year:

Kingsbury said Polite-Bray has played aggressively all week and was the team’s player of the day for Thursday’s practice.

“He really has gained confidence,” Kingsbury said. “Even the pass interference, he was down there being physical, which is what you want. He’s come a long way. This is his third year playing corner, and hopefully some things are clicking.”

OAOA’s Royal McGregor wrote about the return of Desmon Smith to Midland:

Three of the top 10 schools with the most passing yards in the FBS were in the Big 12, which included a group of receivers that Smith faced every day in practice. Texas Tech finished with the highest receiving mark of 5,556 yards in the FBS. The Red Raiders returned their top four receivers — Jonathan Giles, Cameron Batson, Keke Coutee and Cantrell — from 2016.

Smith’s willingness to go toe-to-toe with some of top receivers in the country hasn’t been lost according to Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

“He’s a tough kid,” Kingsbury said about Smith. “He’s real physical and very tough. He wants to fight every snap, and that’s what you want. He’s a hard-nosed, tough kid. We’ve got to continue to develop him in the weight room, but he’s got a chance.”

MRT’s Oscar LaRoy recaps the quarterback play and Nic Shimonek was 20 of 28 for 196 yards and 1 touchdown:

“Coach (Kingsbury) puts a lot on our shoulders, you’re either a hero or a zero, that’s how it works, I’m fine with that. I kind of grew up like that in all my sports that I played. If we lost a game in high school for whatever reason, I was usually the one to blame, so I’m fine with that.”

Rising senior wide receiver Dylan Cantrell had a good connection with Mahomes, dating back to their high school days at Whitehouse. But Cantrell is confident that the chemistry with Shimonek will develop with more reps they get and the offense will be fine with Shimonek running the show.

“He’s just a guy that’s tough and he’s going to do everything he can to put us in a good situation,” Cantrell said. “He made some really good throws. I know he was getting pressure at some points on the day, and he’s going to get used to that and will work on that. But he can make every throw and we’re going to be in good shape.”

It’s also interesting to note that Kingsbury also said that McLane Carter and Xavier Martin need to get into the film room more and work harder.

MRT’s Oscar LaRoy opines that he’s heard that defensive coordinator David Gibbs thinks he has some talent this year:

But from what I hear, third-year defensive coordinator David Gibbs seems to smile more around the Texas Tech football offices, knowing that he’s got a more experienced defense with some potential.

The improvement of the defense will definitely be the key, as well as the improvement of the offensive line and running game.

I’m not worrying about the quarterback position, even with Patrick Mahomes II leaving to pursue his NFL dreams.

Kingsbury is a quarterback guru and he’ll make Nic Shimonek or whoever is passing the ball perform well under pressure.

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