The long, long offseason is now over, and the Red Raider coaching staff was eager to see where their players were at physically today. Head coach Tommy Tuberville felt that many of the players came in looking and feeling fantastic, and he's excited about the quality depth on his team this fall.
"Everybody's come back in pretty good shape. We've got energy, which we need. For the first day, we moved around good. We've got more talent. We've got a lot more quickiness. The big thing is that we've got more depth than what we've had.We're looking for 3-deep. we're going to have a lot of competition this year for a lot of positions, and that'll make us even better. The thing is that we've got to add speed and playmakers on offense, and speed on defense. I think we've done that, and now we've got to just get them in the right spots, see some technique, and get it going."
Anthony Smith injured
Incoming freshman defensive tackle Anthony Smith apparently suffered an ankle injury due to a scooter accident. Coach Tuberville elaborated a little bit, and I don't think you'll see many players on a motorized cart in the near future.
"Anthony Smith had a scooter accident and got an ankle sprain. Typical 320 pounder on their scooter. That's not a pretty sight. You won't see that anymore, but he'll be back in a few weeks."
Players ready to prove themselves in 2012
One of the biggest thing that Coach Tuberille spoke about on Monday was the attitude of the veteran players. Tubeville said most of them have a chip on their shoulder and are ready to pull the 2012 team together.
"We've had guys stand up and talk about last year and how disappointed they were," he said. "We've got a lot of guys that are seniors that want to finish this thing up strong and do it the right way. You can tell that being picked ninth has set in with them a little bit. The attitude is much better in terms of everybody pulling for each other."
The defensive players have been particularly chippy. Tuberville said that the seniors want to build a lasting tradition on that side of the ball after over a decade of defensive negligence.
"As poor as we've been the last two years defensively, the players, they want to create something here at Tech about defense. It's been a lost art here for many years in terms of just playing decent. They don't want to do that. They want to have a good defense. They want a great defense. They want to win games on defense, and they want their own personality," he said. "That comes from your leadership. We've got good older leaders on this team. They've had enough of it. They've had enough of just getting pushed around people pointing fingers at them," he said. "They want to make sure everybody is on the same page by the things that they're showing."
Amaro could be special
Head coach Tommy Tuberville had some especially noteworthy things to say about tight end Jace Amaro. He feels that the monster of a receiver can become not only one of the best players in the country, but also one of the absolute best in school history.
"Jace has got a chance to be one of the best to ever have played around here, anywhere I've been. He's got the ability, he's got the size. God blessed him with a lot of athletic ability. He's obviously been through a few tough times here in the last six or seven months. Unfortunately, it gets pretty never wracking. I think in the long run, it's going to play a lot of dividends for him growing up pretty quick. He needed to do that, as all young guys do. He went through a tough situation. But, he's got great hands, quickeness, and he might be one of the fastest guys out here if you just lined them up and ran," he said. "He's everything you want in a football player that plays that type of position. I'd be shocked if he didn't catch 65, 70 balls this year."
Technique will be stressed by Kaufman
Tuberville feels that he and defensive coordinator Art Kaufman want the same thing from the defense: solid fundamentals. Tubs said that he felt the technique was lacking much of 2011 but feels that Kaufman will drill the ideas into his players.
"We're on the same page. He's a technique guy all the way. We know we've got to stop the run, and we know we were so bad last year. We couldn't stop anybody running the football. You have to be able to take away one of them," he said. "We've got to work a lot more on run defense. We play a lot of running quarterbacks, and last year we were out of position and technique. Art's one of those guys that's going to stress it. He's going to demand technique from day one. Adding to the speed that we've got, I think we're going to have a chance to play much, much better defensively."
Kaufman is ready to see his defense in action
Defensive coordinator Art Kaufman is ready see his veteran defenders make the next step this fall. They've all learned the schemes, and he wants them to apply them at full speed.
"They've gone through the learning stage. Now it's just a matter of making it second nature. I thought our older guys did a good job of that today," he said. "Our older guys, they know what to do. We've got to get into pads and scrimmage stuff to try and get a feel and see who made the jump in the offseason in terms of being physical and I'll have a better feel."
He's also drilled the idea of moving on to the next play into his squad's mind. He wants them to move on, good or bad, from the last play, more specifically last season.
"The thing I talk to them about was don't play the last play. Don't get beat twice by the same play. Go to the next play. The last play isn't important. Now it's about the next play," he said. "That's all we talk about. Play the next play, play the next play. That goes into focus with last year. So what? Let's go into the present and this year and how we're doing."
Lovett talks secondary
Monday afternoon was the first chance that most media members got a chance to speak with defensive backs coach John Lovett. Lovett talked briefly about JUCO corners Bruce Jones and Olaoluwa Falemi and their expected roles this year.
"For sure they're at least depth players. Both of them are very talented, and I expect both of them to contribute this year. We'll just kind of see from there."
He also knows that the starting job is up for grabs at the corner opposite of Cornelius Douglas. He saw the havoc that Big 12 offenses can weave on opposing defenses and plans to use his depth to counteract the quick-play passing attacks.
"They're all fighting for their lives. Neboh's the starter right now, but they're fighting for their lives. That's about as clear as I can tell you this minute." he said. "Looking at last year, looking at this conference, there were so many plays run on a Saturday, and you play 13 games a year. It's very hard to stay healthy and play that many snaps. I don't expect any guy to finish a game with that many snaps. I'm going to try and capitalize on using the depth that I have or hopefully will develop here to get guys in the game."
He even went into detail about corner Cornelius Douglas. Lovett compared him to former Miami and current Houston Texans corner Brandon Harris.
"Corn is just a tremendous competitior. He's one of those guys. I compare him a little bit to a guy I coached at Miami named Brandon Harris. Brandon maybe wasn't the biggest, fastest, strongest guy of all the guys there, but when you walked into the gym, he was the first guy you picked. He's got a lot of stuff about him. I think he's going to be one of the guys that will certainly be a competitor and a leader out there."
Scott ready to see Stephens, Washington in action
The first day of fall camp is always a little nerve racking. It's the first day the Texas Tech coaching staff gets any indication whatsoever as to how the summer workouts correlate to true football. For the players, all positions are technically up for grabs.
But then there's running backs coach Chad Scott who was going to see for the first time whether or not two of his best backs would hold up in regular team drills. Both Eric Stephens and DeAndre Washington are back from traumatic knee injuries last season.
"I wasn't really nervous at all," Scott said. "It's really about how those guys felt mentally. Listening to those guys and knowing their progress throughout the summer, I wasn't nervous at all. Just kind of wanted to see them go out there.
"We were smart with their reps. So I wasn't nervous at all."
Stephens actually looks like he found time to put on some good weight while in the final phases rehabbing his knee this summer.
"He is heavier," Scott said. "I think he'll lose some weight as we go through camp. I think he has a real appreciation for the opportunity he has. I think he's more hungry now. I think he's got the understanding, and I'm not saying he didn't have it before, that the opportunity can be gone in a moment's time."
Scott never had an injury like Stephens or Washington's in his playing days and admires how they got back in time for the start of camp.
"If I had a knee injury as serious as Eric's I'd be questioning if I still wanted to play," Scott said. "For that guy to come back after that kind of injury shows the toughness the kid has and that's what we need on this team."
Scott added he's adjusting the two running backs back into the game.
Stephens and Washington are the type that will push their bodies to the limit and that's just not needed this early in camp so their reps are limited more than the other running backs on the roster.
"At the same time, I have to let them do what they do," Scott said. "They're running backs so at some point they'll have to do inside period and get thumped around. We can't baby them through all of camp and not see what they can do for us. We're being easy on them but as camp progresses we've got to throw them in the fire."