August 21, 2012

Notebook: Flat Tuesday

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Texas Tech's Tuesday practice was flat.

Some players gave a consistently good effort. Quarterback Seth Doege seemed off throwing balls low at the line of scrimmage, but the good balls were being caught up by Jace Amaro, Darrin Moore, and Bradley Marquez. Cornerback Cornelius Douglas battled hard with the outside receivers and the secondary looked pretty good as a whole.

But the practice was missing something, especially considering where the team left off Monday.

The weather was cooler with overcast skies, a strong wind and temperatures in the low 60s and head coach Tommy Tuberville thought the weather would be perfect for the team to carry forward with some good momentum from the last practice.

He was wrong. Physically, the team is fine. Mentally, the collective team seemed bored Tuesday.

"Not a great practice," Tuberville said. "We should have had the best one of all. We were blessed with a lot of pretty weather. It's awful cool out here. But for some reason --We're not physically tired, but it looks like we're mentally tired. We've got no room to slow down, we've got to pick it up as I just told them.

"We only have four days of camp left. We've got to improve. Offense, we looked sloppy. Defense, we got a little better. But that's about as sloppy as you can look on offense."

Tuberville added the best teams in his 32-year career as a football coach don't drop off from one practice to the next.

"Your great football teams are experienced and they've been through it," he said. "They know what to do, but they mentally stay in it through all of practice. We've got so many young guys out here that haven't learned as much. They're having to put their body into it and their mind to it and it doesn't come naturally. When you do that, mentally, you just burn out. It's like studying for an exam for three weeks and finally your mind just gets weary. Things jumble up together.

"But we don't have time to take days off or go back and just run basic stuff. We're 11 days from teeing it up and a lot of these young guys just have to keep piling it on. We hope some of it sticks. Once we get to preparation week, we can cut back on a lot of it. But this is still spring practice mode and trying to get them to learn as much as they can."

Tuberville then hammered down his point. He said he told the players the key isn't surviving fall camp but rather learn the mechanics of their position and how they fit into the bigger picture.

The Tech players entered fall camp mad about their ranking in the media poll but that frustration mindset has taken a backseat. It seems like the Red Raiders are searching along with fans for a magic fast forward button to Sept. 1 or at least Aug. 24 when they're game planning exclusively for Northwestern State.

"We're adding things every day so it's the coaches' jobs to get them mentally going and get every rep they can out of it," Tuberville said. "They don't all have to be perfect, but it's all a mental game and we're playing against ourselves all this year."

- Graham

Torres was M.I.A

Receiver Alex Torres sat out Tuesday's practice.

Tuberville said Torres is banged up and the cold weather wasn't going to help him loosen up.

They gave him the practice off because they already know how he is going to fit into the offense and he knows the playbook.

Eric Ward and Happiness Osunde also missed practice and have been asked to stay away from the team Tuesday because they have the flu.

- Graham

Douglas settling in

After being thrown into the fire midway through 2011, former receiver and current cornerback Cornelius Douglas finally feels good about his role on defense. He has a full spring and summer under his belt, and he knows what he needs to do to succeed this fall.

"I feel a whole lot more comfortable," he said. "I actually got to learn the basics of the defense and actually go out there instead of coming in (during the season) and going out there and trying to learn the defense. I really caught on and I'm getting acclimated to what's going on."

Douglas thinks his experience at receiver has aided his move and helped him to adapt as a DB.

"Yeah, just learning from the splits, where they line up, and the different formations, that really helps. How a receiver comes off the ball, how they stem, how they lean, that really helps you to understand what they're going to do on the field."

- McKay

Hyder likes depth at DT

Junior defensive tackle Kerry Hyder has been through some tough times at defensive tackle. Most thought he was the best interior defender in 2011, and the coaching staff had to burn him out a bit with such little depth. Hyder thinks he has some help this fall and is ready to see what the rest of the two deep will do come Sept. 1.

"With the depth, we're a lot better," he said. "We've got people that can keep coming in and rotating. I felt like last year, once the first team came out, it was a little let down. This year we've got more depth, are faster, and are moving better. I feel like we've got more depth this year."

Hyder has emerged as a leader on the defense. He's become one of the most vocal players on the team, and he made it apparent on Tuesday when he tried to pump up his teammates during the post practice conditioning.

"I just try to keep everybody on their toes, keep everybody energized because it's easy to get sluggish and start slowing down at the end of camp," he said. "It was too quiet out here. That's the fourth quarter drill. At the end of the game, we've got to still be energized and still be hyped, so I just try to spread a little energy throughout the team."

- McKay

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