Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville thought the cool weather that blanketed Lubbock on Tuesday morning would help his team turn up the heat with only four days of fall camp remaining.
That didn’t turn out to be the case.
“Not a great practice,” Tuberville said after the two-hour session. “We should have had the best one we’ve had all year long. The good Lord blessed us with a lot of pretty weather. It’s awfully cool out here, but for some reason we’re not physically tired, but it looks like we were mentally tired.
“We’ve got no room to slow down. We’ve got to even pick it up.”
Tuberville labeled the offense as “sloppy,” citing a number of dropped passes, some poor throws and lackluster pass protection.
“That’s about as sloppy as you can look on offense,” Tuberville said, “from quarterbacks on down.”
Tuberville acknowledged that this home stretch of camp, when players have been facing off against the same opponents for weeks, can be a tough period for players to keep their energy levels elevated.
But with young players still trying to grasp schemes and techniques, the coach also knows he needs his team to get all it can out of the final precious days of practice.
“We can’t afford to be in neutral,” Tuberville said. “We’ve got to be shifting gears. We’ve got to be getting better with our technique. We’re not good enough to rest on how much we’ve improved in two weeks. We can’t waste these four days coming up. We’ve got to keep getting better.”
The Red Raiders will scrimmage for about 80 plays this morning, and Tuberville is hopeful is team will show up with the energy needed to make progress in these final practices.
“Right now we kind of hit a wall,” he said, “but that will change.”
Kennard on the bubble
During the first week of fall practice, senior split end Marcus Kennard looked as impressive as any member of Texas Tech’s deep receiving corps.
But with a unit as talented as Tech’s, there is never any time to rest.
Kennard returned to practice this week after missing most of last week with an injured hamstring. After a rough practice Tuesday in which he dropped a couple passes, he finds himself playing catch up.
“He’s one of those guys that’s on the bubble,” Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. “He’s got people in front of him. When we sit in there (in the meeting room) and talk depth chart, his name doesn’t come up right now. There’s other guys in front of him that are performing.
“That’s the beauty of having competition. I think he’ll respond as a lot of guys have to respond when they don’t have their better days.”
Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown said on Saturday the competition for two-deep at the outside receiver positions was down to five players: Kennard, Eric Ward, Bradley Marquez, Darrin Moore and Javon Bell.
Of those five, Kennard and Ward are the two players slated at the split-end position, but Marquez received some repetitions at that spot Tuesday.
With the race so tight, the final four days of camp will be key for players fighting for those final spots. Kennard, who caught 12 passes for 182 yards as a junior last season, is no exception.
“We don’t play favorites out here,” Tuberville said. “The best players are going to play in the games coming up, and we’ve finally got some competition, which will make everybody better.”
Wide receivers Eric Ward and Alex Torres and defensive back Happiness Osunde missed practice on Tuesday, but none of the three are expected to be out long.
Ward and Osunde were held out with the flu, Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said.
“Once they get that,” Tuberville said, “we get them away from the team for at least 12, 14 hours until they’re not contagious.”
Tuberville indicated Torres, meanwhile, was just being given time to rest. The senior is coming off major knee surgery in the offseason, and the staff doesn’t want to push too hard before the season opener on Sept. 1.
“He’s just as old as me and you,” Tuberville quipped. “He’s trying to make it through a camp that he’s been through a lot of. He’s beat up and warming his body up, and this wasn’t a good day for him to come out. We know what he can do. He’s mentally into. He’s physically into it as much as he can. We want to get him to the season 100 percent healthy and keep him going.”
Compiled by Nick Kosmider