One down and nine more to go.
The Red Raiders were the first team in the Big 12 to hold their annual spring game which they did before an estimated crowd of 3,000 people Saturday in Lubbock. For what it's worth, the Black beat the Red by a score of 25-19. Usually the spring game signals the end of spring practice, but Saturday's scrimmage was technically only the Red Raiders 13th practice (of 15 allowed) so Tech will have two closed practices this week before officially wrapping up spring ball.
Before diving into the stats of any spring game, it's always worth noting what format was used in the scrimmage. Every team does it differently with some going first team-versus-first team, or first team-versus-third team, or offense versus defense, or whatever other format the head coach chooses.
For Texas Tech, they divided the offense (reds) against the defense (blacks) with the first team offense going against the first team defense and the second team against the second team. For the sake of scoring, the Black team was credited with scores when the second team offense was on the field led by backup quarterback, redshirt freshman Michael Brewer.
As for who performed well, much of the talk following the game centered around the performance of Brewer who completed 20 of 25 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns. “You can’t compare them,” Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. “One’s going with the first team; one’s second team. They’re going against a little bit different defense. I like the way Brewer handled himself. First time he’s been in front of a crowd.
“We know what Doege can do. ... We were hoping Michael Brewer would have the day he had, and he did have that. You just hope he builds some confidence, because we expect him to play some next year.”
Reading into the coaches' comments following the game, it sounds like the there was an emphasis on helping Brewer build some confidence prior to fall camp. With last year's backups, Jacob Karam and Scotty Young, leaving the program in the offseason, Brewer will be the first guy off the bench should Doege go down at any point this fall. “It helps that he’s going against the (No.) 2 defense,” offensive coordinator Neal Brown said, “but I wanted to leave this spring with me having confidence in him and the rest of our team having confidence in him. I think we got that done today.”
Doege completed 25 of 39 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown leading the first team offense. With Doege and now Brewer as his backup, Tech looks to have a solid one-two punch at the quarterback position.
Junior college transfer SaDale Foster led the rushing attack with nine carries for 70 yards followed by Ronnie Daniels with 14 carries for 58 yards. Last year's starter the first half of the season, Eric Stephens sat out spring practice as he continues to rehab from last season's knee injury and didn't participate in spring drills.
Texas Tech's offense should be solid once again in 2012. This much we know. What we don't know is what to expect on defense under first year coordinator, Art Kaufman with Tech now moving to a 4-3 defense after experimenting with the 4-2-5. What kind of improvement Tech can make on defense will play a huge part in determining whether or not Red Raiders find themselves back in bowl game after missing out a season on postseason play a year ago.
It might only be spring practice, but most signs seem to be trending in a positive direction on that front. Junior college transfer, linebacker Will Smith, has already made an immediate impact for the Red Raiders throughout the spring and could be a difference maker Tech desperately needs next fall. He didn't disappoint on Saturday intercepting a Doege pass and also led the team with six tackles.
The defense totaled nine sacks on Saturday, as well. Of course, that can be good and bad because it was Tech's offensive line that was giving up the sacks - and so goes football in March.
All things considered, it sounds like Tech is taking steps in the right direction after losing their final five games on the 2011 season. Of course, optimism always reigns supreme in the spring. It's simply one step on the road back back to the upper tier of the Big 12 for Texas Tech.
For the complete stats during the game, here's a link from Texas Tech's official site.