Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury confirmed Monday that defensive tackle Josh Outlaw is no longer on the team. Kingsbury declined to provide specifics to a follow-up question.
Outlaw was just starting his third year in the program. He was a highly recruited offensive lineman from Georgia who made the travel roster for several games as a true freshman.
He played in nine games last year and was moved to defensive tackle late in the season, but wasn’t in the two-deep when camp ended.
One of the decisions facing Texas Tech co-defensive coordinator Mike Smith early this week was identifying personnel for his speed front, the package the Red Raiders use when they have opponents in third-and-long situations.
“I’ve got Pete (Robertson), B-Jack (Branden Jackson), Andre (Ross), Zeus (Zach Barnes), DA (Demetrius Alston),” said Smith, who coaches the defensive line. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can rush the passer, and so I’ll get my four best pass rushers.”
One of the neat stories of Texas Tech’s preseason workouts came when sophomore defensive end Talor Nunez was placed on scholarship. That development came just two years after he joined the program as a 200-pound walk-on safety candidate who’d been a high school quarterback.
Apparently, achieving that didn’t make Nunez complacent.
Some eyebrows were raised Sunday when the Midland Lee product showed up second team on the depth chart to starting defensive end Branden Jackson. Co-defensive coordinator Mike Smith said Nunez passed Gary Moore and Andre Ross on performance.
Texas Tech offensive lineman Conner Dyer from Mesquite Horn will undergo season-ending knee surgery, Tech coach Kliff Kingbury said Monday.
Dyer is a freshman and already was expected to redshirt this season.
Texas Tech’s defensive line was criticized as much or more than any other part of the team’s 122nd-ranked defense last season, but the players returning there have looked as good as any unit to new defensive coordinator David Gibbs.
“Simply because they’re older. They’re veteran guys,” Gibbs said Monday. “A few of them, this is the last go-round. I think they’re taking advantage of it. They’re working harder.”
Defensive coordinator David Gibbs is a lot more concerned about a Texas Tech run defense that was fifth-worst in the FBS last season than he is about a pass rush.
“We’ve got some depth up front, some guys we’ll rotate in that we think can rush the quarterback,” Gibbs said Monday, “but I’m not sure that’s been the problem around here. I’m thinking the problem around here has been, can we stay in our gaps in the run game? So that’s what we’re focusing on.”
Cameron Batson started the 2014 season wearing jersey No. 13, and now he’s going to wear it again.
Forget the notion that it might bring him bad luck.
“I just say it’s lucky for me and unlucky for the defenders,” Texas Tech’s inside receiver and return man said.
Batson had to trade No. 13 for No. 80 early last season after the Red Raiders were penalized for having two players simultaneously on the field wearing the same number. Sam Eguavoen, the team’s starting middle linebacker, had dibs on No. 13.
Four Texas Tech linebackers seem to be in good position to play. At least linebackers coach Zac Spavital spoke favorably on Monday of Micah Awe, Kris Williams, Malik Jenkins and Dakota Allen.
Awe, a 6-foot, 221-pound senior, is the acknowledged starter at middle linebacker, and Williams (6-1, 230) and Jenkins (6-1, 225) appear to have the inside track to the other two spots.
Allen (6-2, 224) is a redshirt freshman who’ll be playing for the first time.
It’s looked since the end of last season as if Baylen Brown and Justin Murphy would comprise the right side of the Texas Tech offensive line this year.
That’s still likely, though they might switch positions.
Line coach Lee Hays said Monday he could wind up with Murphy at right guard and Brown at right tackle — a flipflop — for the Sept. 5 season opener against Sam Houston State.
“Baylen’s more of a natural tackle,” Hays said. “Murph might be a little bit more of a natural guard. He doesn’t have to be as technical.”
Texas Tech cornerback Nigel Bethel and linebacker D’Vonta Hinton both were in non-contact blue jerseys at the end of Monday’s practice.
Defensive coordinator David Gibbs and cornerbacks coach Kevin Curtis referred questions on injured players to head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who wasn’t available to the media Monday.
Bethel also was outfitted with a padded splint or cast on his left hand that extended from mid-forearm and covered several fingers.
He stayed several minutes after practice, however, getting in extra work with an assistant coach.