The next few weeks are important for Texas Tech’s Josh Outlaw. What he shows in preseason practice will determine whether he’s a genuine, game-time backup early this season or just No. 2 on the depth chart.
Outlaw, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound redshirt freshman, is Tech’s second-string left tackle behind newcomer Dominique Robertson. But should Robertson or right tackle Reshod Fortenberry get hurt in a game, it’s likely line coach Lee Hays would move right guard Le’Raven Clark outside and tap his surplus of guards.
Texas Tech running backs coach Mike Jinks and his wife, Meredith, had their third child on May 21, a son they named Tristan.
The newborn, along with the Jinkses’ 8-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter, has made the Tech coach introspective.
“I started late,” said Jinks, who is 42. “Most guys my age have kids playing in high school, making their way to college. I’ve got little ones at home and, really, it’s given me, over the last couple of years, a different perspective.
Pro teams don’t invest much of their payroll to fill certain positions — think kickers and punters in the NFL, low-leverage relief pitchers in the major leagues. The same goes for college football teams, who seldom sign players at certain positions to scholarship agreements straight out of high school.
Texas Tech figures it can find big blocking backs by sorting through non-marquee players on the roster.
As of late afternoon Tuesday, Texas Tech had about 100 tickets left on sale for the Red Raiders’ Nov. 1 home game against Texas.
The tickets are in section 13 at the north end of Jones AT&T Stadium.
Tech spokesman Blayne Beal said Texas returned 500 tickets of its allotment and did not need 1,300 tickets Tech had reserved for the Showband of the Southwest, because it’s bringing only a pep band. Nearly all those 1,800 tickets have already been sold, Beal said.
Texas Tech went through its first workout of the preseason Monday in pleasant early evening conditions. Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury reiterated that an NCAA rule change allowing coaches to provide two hours of weekly instruction to players makes a difference.
“It was good, spirited,” Kingsbury said. “We moved around pretty good. We can tell this summer, being able to meet with them really helped. They were following along a lot better than last year. That’s encouraging.”
Texas Tech guard Cody Hayes is expected to miss significant time and possibly the season with a shoulder injury he suffered during summer weight training, line coach Lee Hays said Monday.
If the injury requires surgery, Hayes would be out for the year.
Losing Hayes doesn’t significantly hurt the team’s depth, given that he’s a young player not in the two-deep and the team has five or six solid options at guard. But Tech coaches like the 6-foot-4, 306-pound redshirt freshman from Fort Worth Western Hills.
The look of Texas Tech’s rushing game could change somewhat this year, given that smaller, shiftier backs are likely to get a lot higher percentage of the carries.
With two-time rushing leader Kenny Williams expected to play defense primarily, junior DeAndre Washington becomes the feature back with sophomore Quinton White and freshman signees Justin Stockton and Demarcus Felton vying for time.
None weigh more than about 200 pounds, a big difference from the 228-pound Williams.
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said all four of the team’s new junior-college defensive linemen are on campus. And he’s greedy about the number he expects to deliver.
Asked how many of the four the Red Raiders need to hit on, Kingsbury said, “I’d say all four need to play. We found out last year playing in this league, we need to be able to rotate more bodies through with these fast-tempo offenses. We weren’t, and that hurt us in the run game a bunch.
“All four of these guys are going to have to play, and play right away.”
Texas Tech’s starting duo at inside linebacker figures to shake out one of two ways: with senior Sam Eguavoen at middle linebacker and senior incoming transfer V.J. Fehoko at weak inside or with Eguavoen at weak inside and junior Micah Awe in the middle.
“It’s going to be a three-linebacker rotation regardless,” Eguavoen said. “I’m going to be playing both, circling around.”
In Tech’s scheme, the weak inside linebacker plays to the tight side of the field and the middle linebacker to the wide side, making speed and range more important from the latter.
Texas Tech and Oklahoma State battle each other every other year in Lubbock and Stillwater.
More and more, the Red Raiders and the Cowboys might be squaring off in places like Lufkin and Tyler. Oklahoma State sees East Texas as a prime recruiting territory, and Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has made it a priority, too.
Does it have potential to be a battleground?