July 21, 2011

Chemistry can't be overlooked

Team chemistry can make or break a team. As sports fans, we've seen many talented teams fall because of internal strife.

The 2011 Red Raider football squad doesn't want that to ever happen at Texas Tech. If you read Wednesday's piece on Leadership, you know the Red Raiders are trying to follow through on what they preach.

Building team chemistry starts with getting Tech's talented incoming freshmen class to buy into hard work.

The 2011 recruiting class was one of, if not the single best, recruiting classes in Tech history. It's likely that several of the freshmen will see significant playing time this upcoming season but the upperclassmen think there are still things the youngest class needs to learn between now and kickoff.

"We're looking pretty good, real athletic," senior linebacker Sam Fehoko said. "We've got some new cats, new recruits that just came in and they look pretty solid, pretty fast. We look like we'll be a good Texas Tech team for the next couple of years. These young cats, most of these guys look good on seven-on-seven. But they have a lot to learn like all young guys do."

Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown said to have successful team chemistry the coaching staff needs to initially preach accountability and foster a healthy locker room. After that period, it's up to the team's leaders.

"You've got to really stress accountability," Brown said. "You've got to make them accountable to their teammates. Then you've got to stress really caring about that other individual. I think if you can develop accountability and they really genuinely care about those other guys is when team chemistry really takes affect. "

Fehoko said being a leader takes patience at this point in the year.

"You don't want to break down anybody but you just want to tell them they have to realize how to work hard," he said. "Usually when you take off a play or take off a rep it's all in your head. You're just telling yourself it's acceptable.

"You don't necessarily want to blast them. You just tell them, 'hey, let's work. We've got something to do, something to accomplish and we want to win a championship this year.' That's how you get into their head. You're not blasting them but your making them realize, 'my teammates are working hard, why can't I work hard?'

Free safety D.J. Johnson said attendance at optional team events has been improving lately across the board.

"Commitment, that's one thing that we had really been struggling with in the past." Johnson said. "We have a lot of people who show up and then the next day they won't. Just a couple of people, it's not just drastic, but we're starting to come together a lot more as far as that goes.

"Saturday we have at least 15 to 20 people showing up and working out on the defense alone and that's a big change."

Junior receiver Alex Torres said the best way to get someone to buy into the program is to approach them one-on-one.

"I feel like that's the best way I've been able to get through to these guys," Torres said. "My biggest thing is try to lead by example and whether it be on and off the field, in the classroom, overall just as a player and a person just really try to give these younger guys a basis of what to do."

Ultimately team chemistry is going to be decided by how good the 2011 squad's leaders are but everyone can take a part in setting an example for others to follow.

"That's one thing I really appreciate, everyone that has stepped up into a leadership role and kind of advised has really done their part and really shown us this is the right way to do things," Torres said. "I think for these younger guys that it has really impacted them early."

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