Texas Tech has a good idea who will be in its defensive end rotation. Still to be determined is how roles and playing time will shake out.
Returning starter Dartwan Bush, a junior, has redshirt freshmen Pete Robertson and Kindred Evans behind him at right end, while redshirt freshman Branden Jackson and sophomore Jackson Richards are competing at left end.
Coaches gave Robertson first-team snaps last week to accelerate his development at a new position. They had only two days to evaluate Robertson in March when he moved from linebacker to end after the spring game.
“Pete really did well the first few days. Then he had mental lapses,” Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said after Tuesday’s practice. “We moved Dartwan back in front of him.
“The other side is going to be a battle between Branden Jackson and Jackson Richards. I think we’ve got five guys that are going to be ready to go.”
None of the five is a senior. To make things simpler, the Red Raiders aren’t flipflopping the ends based on the strong and weak sides of the offensive formation.
“It’s a lot easier to learn one side than learn both sides where you’ve got to put a different hand down,” Tuberville said.
Through the first eight sessions of preseason drills, Texas Tech’s injury count in the offensive line has been a hindrance. Starting right tackle Terry McDaniel returned Tuesday on a full-contact basis, but starting guards Le’Raven Clark and Beau Carpenter remained out, as did backup center Tony Morales.
That’s on top of backup tackle Matt Wilson submitting to season-ending knee surgery and backup guard Brian Thomas leaving the team.
“We’re probably down to about 10 right now,” Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. “We’re scraping to find two groups. Hopefully, we can start getting some guys back and help out the other guys that are having to take all the reps.”
More than once, coaches have complimented the work of center Jared Kaster, a second-semester freshman who has taken advantage of the chance for meaningful snaps. James Polk, a sophomore who to this stage of his career hasn’t pushed for playing time, also has done well, Tuberville said.
When he was asked Monday about details of injuries to the linemen, Tuberville said, “All concussions.”
When asked Tuesday how they all happened, Tuberville seemed a little puzzled by it.
“We don’t have that much contact with the head,” he said. “With offensive linemen, you’re supposed to be leading with your hands. I’m not going to play doctor. It’s a little bit of both maybe, slipping and heads banging.
“Nowadays, you don’t have a lot of contact with offensive and defensive linemen — and you don’t have that much in a game. As much as the spread’s brought to it, it’s not line up and 3 yards and a cloud of dust.”
More work in store
Tech has added five more workouts to its preseason practice schedule. Tech’s original schedule had no two-a-days, and the additional practices will result in five two-a-day sessions.
The Red Raiders are still below the NCAA limit of 29 practices before the first game.
Short scrimmage on tap
The team plans to devote about half of Wednesday’s workout window to scrimmaging in Jones AT&T Stadium. The Red Raiders had a 115-play scrimmage Saturday in which they committed 10 5-yard penalties, mostly illegal procedure.
“We made a lot of mental mistakes last week in procedure and lining up offside and too many men on the field,” Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said.
During one-on-one drills matching receivers and defensive backs, freshman FL Reginald Davis had a big-time catch over CB Brandon Bagley, the junior-college transfer who just arrived last week from College of the Sequoias in Visalia, Calif.. ... During screen-pass drills, FL Javon Bell made an impressive run, using blocks from IRs Tyson Williams and Javares McRoy to break free from heavy traffic. ... S Cody Davis intercepted a pass in the 11-on-11 team period. ... SE Derreck Edwards made perhaps the best catch of the day, a diving effort on a pass down the sideline from QB Michael Brewer.