The Texas Tech defense came away from Friday night with reasons to be encouraged.
Midway through the 90-minute scrimmage at Jones AT&T Stadium came a sequence in which the defense foiled the offense seven series in a row, five on series that started in plus territory. Right after that, though, the offense scored on eight straight possessions.
“We made a lot of mistakes in the second half, but we came out with a lot of good energy,” inside linebacker Will Smith said. “Other than that, we’ve got to limit our mistakes in the second half. Just focus when we’re tired; that’s the main objective right now.”
The Red Raiders wrapped up their next-to-last week of spring football with their first session in Lubbock that was open to the public. It attracted a crowd Tech officials estimated at nearly 6,000.
The seven-series stretch of airtight defense started with redshirt freshman La’Darius Newbold intercepting sophomore quarterback Michael Brewer and returning it 30 yards. Two plays later, Smith tagged Brewer in the end zone for a safety, coming unblocked around end on a blitz call.
Those were highlights, but the next five series were more impressive based on where they started. With the Red Raiders drilling red-zone and goal-line defense, the offense started three drives at the plus-25 and the next two at the plus-8.
The results: Two failed fourth-down attempts, two Kramer Fyfe field goals and a missed field goal.
“That’s just fitting up your gaps and making sure everybody does their own part of the 1/11 on the defense,” Smith said of the defense’s production with its back to the wall.
The defense forced one field goal on a series in which Smith had a sack and cornerback Bruce Jones broke up Brewer’s third-down pass into the end zone. The offense settled for another field goal after nose tackle Anthony Smith hurried Brewer into a third-down misfire.
The series after that, with freshman Davis Webb in at quarterback, linebacker Branden Jackson and end Dartwan Bush made stops behind the line. That sequence ended with Fyfe missing a 27-yard field goal.
The tide did a 180-degree turn, though. Over the next eight series, Brewer threw four touchdown passes, Webb tossed three TDs and Kenny Williams ran for the second of his two touchdowns.
“We started off pretty bad,” said slot receiver Jordan Davis, who caught seven passes for 85 yards and two TDs. “But once we started rolling and getting our confidence, we did really well. We’ve got to make sure that if we’re doing bad, we can come back and do well instead of only when when things are going right.”
Given that both sides can’t be great at once in an intrasquad, Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said he liked seeing good stretches from each. He was asked if he had a preference for the offense or defense being ahead at this stage.
“Not really,” Kingsbury said. “I like the way it went, where you trade punches. Defense was getting after us early and offense came back and finished strong. The teams rising up at different times, so it was good to see.”
The offense had some help scoring touchdowns on eight straight series. Two of those started from the plus-8 and two more from the plus-45.
“I felt like they had some good calls,” Will Smith said, “but it was more fatigue for us. We’ve got to learn how to play when we’re tired.”
Kingsbury and his offense staff have said they’ll go at a breakneck pace on offense, one of the objectives being to wear out a defense.
When asked what his message was to the offense around the midpoint of the scrimmage, Kingsbury said, “Just that this is when we take over. With our tempo, our pace of play, the second half we should wear down the defense and start making plays. They responded, so that was good to see.”
Friday’s scrimmage was the Red Raiders’ 11th of the 15 sessions allotted for spring ball. Tech finishes this week with practices scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and the Red-Black Game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium.
TEXAS TECH SCRIMMAGE
at Jones AT&T Stadium
Kenny Williams 2 run (Ryan Bustin kick)
Jordan Davis 37 pass from Davis Webb (Bustin kick)
Safety, Will Smith sacked Michael Brewer in end zone
FG Kramer Fyfe 30
FG Fyfe 23
Dominique Wheeler 8 pass from Webb (Fyfe kick)
Davis 8 pass from Brewer (Seth Mannon kick)
Quinton White 14 pass from Brewer (kick failed)
Derreck Edwards 19 pass from Webb (Mannon kick)
Williams 7 run (Mannon kick)
Jakeem Grant 19 pass from Brewer (Mannon kick)
Grant 65 pass from Brewer (Fyfe kick)
White 35 run (Fyfe kick)
RUSHING: White 9-71, Williams 12-48, Sadale Foster 4-23, Webb 4-8, Clayton Nicholas 1-3, Grant 1-(-4), Brewer 5-(-37).
PASSING: Brewer 20-31-1—281, Webb 12-23-0—135, Nicholas 0-2-0—0.
RECEIVING: Davis 7-85, Grant 4-125, Williams 4-22, Brad Pearson 3-60, Brent Mitcham 3-31, White 3-25, Jace Amaro 3-21, Foster 2-11, Edwards 1-19, Reginald Davis 1-9, Wheeler 1-8.
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