September 13, 2011

Notebook: Daniels going home

Circumstances have made it where freshman running back Ronnie Daniels will make his collegiate debut where it all started out: Albuquerque, N.M.

Daniels sat out the Red Raiders season-opener but the Albuquerque La Cueva High School grad will get play in front of his parents at New Mexico's University Stadium.

"When I was young, I never thought my first game would be a UNM," Daniels said. "But going in with this team, and knowing what we can do, I'm kind of excited about it."

After winning a New Mexico state title in 2009, Daniels took hold of the state's career rushing touchdown and career rushing records as a senior. His senior season ended with a playoff loss to Las Cruces High School.

Daniels has never played at University Stadium though. It's a final milestone to cross off his New Mexico football before playing almost every other game of his career out of that state.

It doesn't matter much to Daniels where he starts his college football career as much as he just wants to establish his spot in the Red Raiders' running back corps.

"I'm just trying to get my feet wet," Daniels said. "Trying to have a real good rushing game and show the coaches what I can do to. Just ready to get after it."

That being said, he doesn't believe there will be any jitters or goose bumps coming out of the tunnel in front of his family and friends back in his home state.

"I don't get nervous before football games just because it's something I've always done my whole life," Daniels said. "I've been playing since I was eight so I'm just looking at it as a regular game and it's going to be a good place."

VIRUS, INJURIES MIGHT MAKE TECH A LITTLE RUSTY OUT OF THE GATES

Head coach Tommy Tuberville said a stomach virus has hit the Red Raider squad.

A few players missed practice time last week with it, but Tuberville said half-dozen players sat out of Tuesday's practice.

"We had a few last week, really haven't had a lot of continuity (because of it) on offense because we just haven't had guys that have been able to go," Tuberville said. "They'll be back by the end of the week though."

Add the ill players to the losses of Leon Mackey and Justin Keown and you have a situation where younger players took a lot of Tuesday's reps. That could be slightly problematic to establish a rhythm early against New Mexico on Saturday.

Good news about Keown though, he was working out in full pads Tuesday and is getting closer to playing in a game. He won't see action against the Lobos, however.

"He's been good and out snapping a little bit," Tuberville said. "Moving lateral, he's got full pads on. He's probably a good three weeks away from even giving it a shot, still a little loose so we'll have to see how that progresses."

Meanwhile, Mackey was revaluated by doctors Monday for his partially deflated lung and it looks like the possibility he misses the rest of the season is slimmer than it appeared a week ago.

"He's out here walking around now," Tuberville said. "He can't do anything, but they scanned him and he's doing a bit better. Hopefully he's on track to come back before the end of the year. He had shoulder pads on today, inside he's a little bit better than he was."

DEFENSIVE LINE WILL PLAY A BIG ROLE SATURDAY

Despite losing the first game of the year 14-10 to Colorado State and losing a 52-3 matchup against No. 14 Arkansas the new week, New Mexico's offensive line improved.

The Lobo offensive line allowed 10 sacks against Colorado State and none against Arkansas. Defensive tackle Donald Langley and the rest of the Red Raider defensive line hope to get a sack number somewhere in the middle, at least.

"Congratulations to New Mexico," Langley said. "They really buckled down and definitely improved. Really, it's all about Texas Tech. We just have to play Texas Tech football, do our job, play for each other, play hard, play fast and play with that tenacity and just get the job done."

Part of that job includes containing dual-threat quarterback Austin Tarean. He leads the team in rushing yards with 136 yards through two games as well as through the air, averaging 170 passing yards per game.

If Tech can contain Tarean, it should set the Red Raiders to open the game wide open early.

"I feel like our role as a defensive line is that we just have to do our jobs," Langley said. "Defensive ends just have to contain and us inside guys have to make sure to get pressure to make the defensive backs and linebackers look good."

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