January 28, 2012

Spring Look: The Secondary

How do things stand with the Red Raiders as they prepare for spring football? We will be breaking down the team position group by position group to give you a good idea of what to expect once Texas Tech opens practice on Feb. 17.

We continue with a look at the defensive backs:

Who are the cornerbacks?

The biggest problem with the Red Raiders' secondary last season was the depth at cornerback.

The most adequate corner, Tre' Porter, was sidelined with a head injury and none of the other corners were consistent. Red Raider fans expected bigger things out of sophomore corners Derrick Mays and Jarvis Phillips and three-year walk-on Sawyer Vest outshined those two at times.

Then the injury big hit. Hard.

By Tech's last game, against Baylor, Happiness Osunde and converted receiver Cornelius Douglas were the starting corners. Early in that game Osunde suffered a significant knee injury and things got even worse.

This year, Jeremy Reynolds will probably join the cornerback rotation after redshirting last season along with junior college transfer Bruce Jones and highly-touted recruit La'Darius Newbold. Expect Mays and Phillips to bounce back with better junior campaigns and significantly more depth at cornerback.

Adequate safety depth

With new defensive coordinator Art Kaufman's 4-3 defense, Tech will revert back to two safeties on the field rather than three safeties like we saw in the 4-2-5 defensive scheme.

As it stands right now Cody Davis will play strong safety like he did prior to the 4-2-5 defense while Terrance Bullitt and D.J. Johnson will compete for free safety.

Each of those players has started at least one full season.

Add to those familiar faces junior college transfer Chris Payne and you've got a lot of experience at those safety positions.

Then you add redshirt freshman Pete Robertson into the mix and you've got a talented last line of defense if nothing else.

The new coaching staff

Head coach Tommy Tuberville added three former defensive assistants that all worked under Tuberville at Mississippi to his defensive coaching staff at Tech. That leaves only defensive line coach Robert Prunty from last year's struggling defense.

Of the new coaches, John Lovett will coach the secondary and has a ton of experience coaching the defensive backfield. Lovett also has been a defensive coordinator during certain stints of his career.

But the bigger thing for what was a poor pass defense last season is Lovett, Kaufman and co-defensive line coach Terry Price understand what each position group is trying to accomplish. In Tuberville's first two season at Tech, he brought in some coaches that had shown talent but their beliefs didn't mesh perfectly.

With three new coaches that have experience with each other, all position groups within the defense should better understand their role. If the front seven do a better job, the secondary will greatly benefit.

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