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April 19, 2009LUBBOCK, Texas - With the departure of two-time Biletnikoff Award-winning wide receiver Michael Crabtree, it seemed fitting that the initial first down in Texas Tech's Red & Black game on Saturday came on a nine-yard strike from Taylor Potts to little-known receiver Alexander Torres. Potts finished the day a respectable 20-of-27 for 211 yards and a touchdown, but his Red team lost to the White, 19-7.
Head coach Mike Leach thought Potts' performance, while solid, was not spectacular.
"I thought he was pretty average, really," Leach said. "I didn't think it was a bad day. I think we consistently moved it, but anytime you split the teams up - literally just split them up - there's going to be breakdowns in execution because you are spread a little thin."
Steven Sheffield, the White team's starting quarterback, completed 11-of-18 passes for 99 yards and an interception.
"I thought he played pretty good," Leach said. "He forced a couple, and then when something bad happened, rather than taking that into the next play, I thought he did a good job of playing the next play.
"I thought he really did a good job creating a level of tempo out there, and then if he made a bad play out there I thought he did a good job of bouncing back and playing the next play."
Senior linebacker Marlon Williams, who finished with five and a half tackles, felt that the scrimmage's low score was indicative of the performance of the defenses.
"I thought the scrimmage was good," Williams said. "The defense had a lot of big plays. We had a pick-six, we had a lot of coughed up balls, and a lot of the cornerbacks were breaking on a majority of balls. So, it was a good day."
As for Williams' individual efforts, he felt defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill put him in the right situations at the right times.
"Ruff blitzed me a lot today," Williams said. "I made quite a few plays off blitzes. Pass defense was pretty good, and I just did what I was supposed to do. When it was my time, I showed up.
"If you look at a lot of those drives, they weren't able to throw the ball downfield because we were blitzing," Williams said. "It was forcing them to have to hot-route the ball. So, they were only getting two or three yards a pop or we were breaking on the ball and making the drive shorter."
The Red Raiders introduced a new format for their spring game, opting to divide their roster down the middle into two teams. According to Leach, his team's depth allowed them to do this.
"Most years you're not able to do it," Leach said. "We were able this year, but if you're not deep enough, especially at o-line and d-line, you can't do it. We had to have the backs go on both teams because we didn't have quite enough of them.
"I thought it was good; I thought it was pretty good competitive work, disjointed as a result of some folks working next to each other that they aren't familiar with."
DEFENSIVE LINES RULE THE DAY
Despite the White team's advantage over Red on the scoreboard, the real winners on Saturday was Texas Tech's defense, specifically the two defensive lines that combined for nine sacks.
"I think it was pretty good by both sides of the ball," said senior Richard Jones, who registered a sack himself on Saturday. "As far as defense, I know the defense on both sides played good today."
Senior Daniel Howard, who was one of three players with two sacks, felt that the defensive line set the tone.
"[Defensive line] did really well," he said. "Everybody was hitting their stunts and executing all of the plays really well, and that just led to a good day for the defense."
What is even more impressive about the defensive front's performance on Saturday is that they were missing one of their biggest contributors, senior McKinner Dixon.
"I love McKinner," Howard said of his suspended teammate. "But he's not here right now, and we've got to go."
Senior Brandon Sesay filled in for Dixon and then some, logging two sacks on the day.
"We know we have big shoes to fill," said Sesay. "As far as me and my position, playing behind him, we just have to step it up even more because that's a big part to our defensive line. We really miss him and hope he gets back as soon as possible."
CARTER HUMBLED BY PRESEASON RECOGNITION
After Saturday's Red & Black Game, senior offensive lineman Brandon Carter made his first public comments about being named a first-team preseason All-American by NationalChamps.net.
"It's an honor," said Carter. "After last season, I never really expected to make All-American, and to already be seen as a preseason All-American is a huge honor.
"It's a huge honor to our whole offensive line, as well, because if they didn't get me seen, nobody would be able to notice me. I give those guys credit, also. They've worked just as hard as I do, but I'm really glad to be on that list.
Putting on a gameday uniform, after a four-month layoff, is still exciting for veteran players like Carter.
"You know, I think [the spring game] went well," he said. "I think some people try to make too much happen, but as a whole, I think everyone did pretty well. Everyone was excited to come out here.
"It was good to be back on the football field and in our jerseys. I think, as a whole, we did pretty well and had fun out here."
When questioned about the Red Raiders' effort in the scrimmage, Carter spoke of a never-satisfied approach that surely helped him bounce back from a recent injury.
"You know, I think whenever you're satisfied with what happens, you're done as far as getting the best you can," explained Carter. "I don't think anyone's satisfied with the performance. Everyone's got work to do. As a whole, I think everyone came out here and did well. I think everyone played hard and had fun."
RECEIVERS TURN IN SOLID PERFORMANCE
The Red and White offenses did not produce gaudy numbers on the scoreboard on Saturday, but that may have been partly due to the mix and match nature of both units.
Junior receiver Detron Lewis, who has been running with the first group all spring, felt he had a solid performance despite not running with Potts.
"I think I did pretty good, overall," said Lewis. "I was on the White team, obviously I wasn't with Potts, but I think Sticks (Sheffield) did good.
"I informed Sticks of the stuff that me and Potts do, that's why we did pretty good on the times when we were in there together."
Saturday's scrimmage also showcased some young talent at receiver that most Red Raider fans had yet to see. Local product Austin Zouzalik registered five receptions for 67 yards and felt like the offense did some pretty good things.
"I think I did pretty well," said Zouzalik. "I mean, I wasn't really disappointed with anything I did. I think I did pretty well."
Senior receiver Edward Britton turned in a good performance as well and, according to Leach, would have received more touches if Saturday was an actual game. Leach also added that Britton was out of his dog house, but that status could always change.
"This is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business," said Leach. "Today, I like Ed. A couple of weeks ago, Ed was at that Double T in 30-degree weather, and we are certainly prepared to go back to those days if we have to."
NEXT PRACTICE: Monday, April 20th at 3:30 p.m.