Offensive lineman Brian Thomas has left the Texas Tech team, a spokesman confirmed Monday, a disappointing development for the Red Raiders considering Thomas was a two-year starter at Texas A&M before coming to Tech.
Thomas, a 6-foot-3, 319-pound guard, had issues with conditioning and acid reflux, Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown said after the first few practices last week. He missed Friday’s practice and Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage.
“He’s got too many physical issues,” Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said after Monday’s practice. “He was second team and went down to third team. Physically, he couldn’t make it through a complete practice.”
Thomas, who has a year of eligibility left, earned a bachelor’s degree at A&M and transferred to Tech for graduate school. It looked like a godsend for the Red Raiders: a team with little offensive line depth getting a player who had started 25 games at another Big 12 program.
Thomas began last week backing up left guard behind Beau Carpenter, a sophomore getting his first chance to be a full-time starter.
Tuberville also said Monday that sophomore safety Urell Johnson has left the team to transfer to Southern Mississippi, which is near his hometown New Orleans.
Johnson, a 2010 signee, made no push to play for the Red Raiders. Aside from the starters, he was behind younger safeties Austin Stewart and J.J. Gaines on the depth chart.
“He wanted to try it and see where he was going to be going into the first week,” Tuberville said. “He just didn’t make a move up. He wanted to get close back to his mom back home, and so we gave him a release to go to Southern Miss.”
Kennard keeps it up
Marcus Kennard keeps putting together one good workout after another, helping his case to back up split end Eric Ward.
The 6-foot-3, 203-pound senior had already made a couple of tough catches in tight coverage Monday when he came up with another that had coaches and teammates oohing, aahing and complimenting him for several minutes afterward. Kennard ran a route about 25 yards down the left sideline, then made a turning, twisting catch when the pass went behind him.
He’s battling redshirt freshman Derreck Edwards for playing time.
Several times in Monday’s workout, running backs SaDale Foster and DeAndre Washington were paired together in a two-back formation. That’s in addition to the usual two-back sets that feature fullback Omar Ontiveros.
Third-year offensive coordinator Neal Brown said Saturday the Red Raiders have been using two-back looks quite a bit more than at any time in his first two years.
Brown said that could extend into the season, because Ontiveros has become more well rounded. The 6-1, 236-pound junior from Austin Westlake has been an effective run blocker in the past, but Brown said he’s improved at pass protection and catching the ball since the end of last season.
Still a gap
During Saturday’s scrimmage, Tech coaches devoted a lot more snaps to second- and third-team players than starters, which meant backup quarterback Michael Brewer got a lot more work than Seth Doege. Brewer threw four touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions in the red zone.
Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said he’s happy with Brewer’s progress, but there’s a gap between the senior who is No. 1 and the redshirt freshman who’s No. 2.
“He’s making good decisions, making good throws,” Tuberville said of Brewer. “He’s just not near as polished as Seth in a lot of things: running our NASCAR (no-huddle offense), running our play-action stuff, fakes.
“But he’s coming on. He made a lot of progress in the spring, and I think he’s going to have a chance to play some this fall. we’ll have some different things for him to do, too, that Seth won’t do.”
DT Anthony Smith probably will redshirt if he’s not able to practice by the middle of next week, head coach Tommy Tuberville said. The 5-10, 312-pound freshman from Spring Westfield has been out with a high ankle sprain he suffered in a scooter accident. ... Tech has 13 scholarship offensive linemen, and only eight practiced Monday. The key absences included starting OGs Beau Carpenter and Le’Raven Clark. Starting OT Terry McDaniel returned on a non-contact basis. All three have concussions, Tuberville said. ... Starting safeties D.J. Johnson and Cody Davis had good scrimmages Saturday. “Our first-team safeties probably played as good as what we’ve played the last three years in terms of assignment and technique,” Tuberville said.