After a scrimmage that was mostly dominated by the defense, head football coach Tommy Tuberville said, maybe for the first time in his tenure on the South Plains, that the defense was well on track to turning the corner.
Tuberville was impressed with the defensive play on Saturday and liked what his new coaching staff has put together so far.
"Defensively we're a little bit ahead of where I thought we'd be. We looked a lot better than I would have expected, running a lot of different fronts with the four man front that we're running. I think the coaches have done a good job."
The head ball coach said that the secondary had a good overall day and competed well with the receivers across the board.
"I was impressed defensively with how we played our zone and man coverages. Pretty impressive for the first scrimmage," he said. "It was good. You can just tell from watching man coverage that technique was pretty good. We played receivers very close, we were able to knock down a lot of balls. I thought defensively that was probably one of the better things that we did."
Tubs was also impressed with, like most other observers, linebacker Will Smith. Smith had a freakish one handed interception during the scrimmage, and coach Tuberville said that his play hasn't surprised the coaching staff.
"Will Smith, he obviously showed up. We knew he was going to make a huge impact early if he can just continue to learn. He's got to get stronger. I tell you, he's going to be a good leader for us too. He's got experience playing junior college, that's what's helped him."
Tuberville said that the defense has gained a little attitude in the offseason and knows that there's only room for improvement.
"We were the worst in the country last year, and we can't do anything but go up, but we'll go way up. I like the temperament of our defense. They were embarrassed last year, and it wasn't a lot their fault. We just weren't able to stop the run, so we've been really focusing on playing run technique with our defensive front and linebackers for the first five days."
Tuberville Likes His QBs
Now that he has a full season as a starter under his belt, senior quarterback Seth Doege knows all the rigors that come with spring football. Tuberville said that he likes what he's seen from the senior signal caller so far.
"The thing about Seth is the first three or four practices, he's been throwing the ball well even with the wind blowing the way it has been blowing. He's got a lot more speed on the ball, looks like he's got a tighter spiral. He's into it. He's into it every day. He's working receivers, working on short passes, working on deep passes. He's going to be fine as we go along, but he's going to get a lot more chances as we go through the next couple of scrimmages to make some impact. Today he was probably doing more coaching than he was playing quarterback."
With the recent departures of Jacob Karam and Scotty Young from the quarterback depth chart, Michael Brewer is officially the back-up QB. Tuberville said that he thinks Brewer can be a star in the Big 12 if he continues to progress at his current rate. The offensive staff also hopes to be able to use the redshirt freshman in some special packages this season.
"Michael Brewer, number one, he competes, he listens, he learns. He absorbs everything that goes on in practice, watches a lot of film on his own. The players respect him . The thing that he does a little bit more of, he's going to be a little more elusive. We'll probably run him with the ball some and give him a chance to make some plays, but he throws the ball well too. He's got to get stronger. He came in at 165 and he's probably right now about 185. He's probably gained 20 pounds of muscle in the last year. He's got a huge, huge chance to be a real good football player and a real good quarterback in this league and on this level if he continues to get stronger," he said. "He's going to play some next year. We're going to get him in as much as we possibly can. We'll probably have a package for him every game of possibly running it and play action. He's a guy that can get out of the pocket now and put pressure on a defense."
Smith making early impact
With Smith at linebacker, good things are happening even with the departure of Cqulin Hubert.
Smith was a force to be reckoned with in Saturday's scrimmage.
"It's been fun," the Riverside (Calif.) Community College transfer said. "This is my first time to come out here and compete with the pads on. It's been fun to come out here and just fly around with my teammates and stuff like that."
As mentioned earlier, Smith got a big interception on a Doege pass and caused problems in the running game as well.
"I was just going through my reads and I saw him throw it and I was just like, 'I can probably grab that,'" Smith said. "So I just jumped up and tipped it. At first I thought I lost it, but then was like 'hey I got the ball' and ran with it."
Everything has been going right for Smith early in spring ball. He's being looked at for all three linebacker positions and enjoying the success he's had thus far in his Red Raider career.
"The level of competition is about the same," Smith said. "At junior college, everyone is trying to get out and here it's the same thing because people are trying to go to the next level. It's a little bit of an adjustment and it's just focusing a lot more to the small details."
Running back competition
A bright spot in the offensive performance today was the running game.
Both Kenny Williams and Ronnie Daniels looked good at times and both could be desperately needed if Eric Stephens and DeAndre Washington can't play the 2012 season coming off of knee injuries.
The Red Raiders experimented with a diamond formation today with the quarterback, two blocking backs and the ball carrier bunched in the backfield for a power running game. If Williams and Daniels run it, it could be very successful.
"The diamond formation, I love that formation," Williams said. "As a running back, you love to run the ball and the diamond formation allows for power running."
Williams and Daniels will most likely see the field often in 2012 and the two running backs are pushing each other very hard right now.
"A competition like this is good," Williams said. "Ronnie tells me every day he wants my position and I tell him every day he's not going to have it. Someone has to win and it's a competition every day. We're pushing each other hard."
Things look even better with Riverside Community College running back transfer Sadale Foster in the mix. Foster had the longest run of the day Saturday -- a 30-yard touchdown.
"Sadale definitely made some plays today, he definitely surprised me," Williams said. "He's definitely another guy that promotes good competition out here."
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