• Comment

Red Raiders football notebook: Levi day-to-day after injury

Step for Payne

Posted: September 1, 2014 - 9:39pm  |  Updated: September 2, 2014 - 12:08am
Texas Tech's Reginald Davis gets past Central Arkansas' Tirell Wellmaker(11) and D.J. Holland(46) during their game on Saturday in Lubbock. (Tori Eichberger/AJ Media)
Texas Tech's Reginald Davis gets past Central Arkansas' Tirell Wellmaker(11) and D.J. Holland(46) during their game on Saturday in Lubbock. (Tori Eichberger/AJ Media)
Get your A-J Media Digital Subscription now!

Texas Tech noseguard Rika Levi is day-to-day, coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday, with the right knee injury he suffered in Saturday’s season opener.

“It wasn’t as bad as initially thought, which was good,” Kingsbury said. “So we’re going to brace him up and see how he’s feeling. But he’s day to day as of right now.”

Levi got hurt on his fifth play, a fourth-and-1 in Tech territory in the first quarter.

“I don’t know if he’ll be back this Saturday,” Kingsbury said, “but by all accounts it wasn’t near as bad as they first thought, so very soon.”

Senior Jackson Richards is the starting noseguard. With Levi down, third-team noseguard Marcus Smith or second-team defensive tackle Keland McElrath could be used more.

Defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt also mentioned sophomore Anthony Smith and junior Donte Phillips as interior defensive linemen who need to step up.

Wallerstedt said he needs the bigger bodies to progress to provide bulk against the run.

Central Arkansas averaged 3.3 yards per rush; Tech’s goal is no more than 3.3. Still, the Bears finished with 178 yards on the ground and managed to sustain drives, going 6 for 6 on fourth downs.

“Demetrius Alston’s giving us everything he’s got at that 3-technique (defensive tackle), but truly he’s a defensive end,” Wallertstedt said. “Jackson Richards gives you everything he’s got and he’s 270 pounds. With those two in, we’re playing aggressive and hard, (but) still getting moved around like we saw last year.”

Step for Payne

Linebacker Chris Payne is enrolled in school for the fall semester, defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt, and could be a candidate to help the team late in the season.

Payne was on the sideline in jersey and shorts Saturday night during the Red Raiders’ 42-35 victory against Central Arkansas.

The senior from Columbia, South Carolina, suffered a torn Achilles tendon before spring practice and is still rehabilitating from surgery. Otherwise, outside linebackers coach Mike Smith said 10 days ago, “he’d have been a huge factor” at the Raider outside linebacker position. Smith said it would be November or perhaps bowl season before Payne could help.

Nevertheless, Wallerstedt said he’s pleased that Payne has applied himself academically and is on track to graduate.

Vote of confidence

Texas Tech defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt picked a conspicuous stretch to insert safeties Jalen Barnes and Josh Keys for their first defensive snaps: virtually the entire fourth quarter of a game that hadn’t been decided.

Barnes, a redshirt freshman, and Keys, a junior college transfer, went in with 12:58 left and Tech up 35-21. They played every snap the last two series, during which Central Arkansas drove 15 plays to get within 35-28 and nine plays to cut it to 42-35.

Wallerstedt said he wanted to get both some playing time.

“We went up by 14,” Wallerstedt said, “and thought there might be a good point of the game for Jalen Barnes and Josh Keys to get their feet wet. Two guys that have a lot of potential, had not played in that arena yet. We felt like going down the stretch — not to say the game was won — but we trust those guys.”

On a night when it was 93 degrees at game time and Central Arkansas ran 94 plays, Wallerstedt said he also wanted to give starting safeties J.J. Gaines and Keenon Ward a breather.

“We’d seen (Central Arkansas’) menu. We knew what their receivers could do,” Wallerstedt said. “We think those (backup) guys are two really good players.

“We’re going to play maybe by committee a little bit more this year, and we also know that it’s a marathon not a sprint and we’ve got to be able to save J.J. and Keenon for the long haul.”

Barnes was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on a first-and-goal from the 4, and Keys made one tackle.

“It wasn’t clean,” Wallerstedt said. “Jalen hurt us a couple of times there late on a couple of things that exposed us, but we’re living and learning.”

Calling on Batson

Offensive coordinator Eric Morris said freshman receiver Cameron Batson will have a chance this week to play on offense, but at different positions than the ones at which he’s been projected.

Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury and Morris weren’t pleased with the play of their outside receivers in Saturday’s game and said they’ll plug in Batson there — at split end or flanker either one.

Batson started preseason practice training behind Jakeem Grant and Jordan Davis at “H” inside receiver.

“He’s a valedictorian kid that knows our whole offense,” Morris said. “Probably three of the four (receiver) positions, he can go out and play. He plays really hard. He’s smart. He’s going to get a shot to play this week.”

Batson quarterbacked his Oklahoma City Millwood team to a 14-1, state runner-up season last year, but played receiver the three years before that.

He won the punt-return job in August practices.

Disappointing effort

Tech expected to feel the loss of Eric Ward this season. Not only did he catch more than 80 passes three years in a row, but he played a rough, physical style when a teammate had the football.

The Red Raiders felt his absence right away Saturday.

Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said the outside receivers were “pretty nonexistent” and didn’t perform in the game the way they had in practice. Starting flanker Reginald Davis led that group with five catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, and split ends D.J. Polite-Bray and Devin Lauderdale were a composite seven catches for 78 yards.

Offensive coordinator Eric Morris said he probably kept Davis in the game for too many snaps and his technique and footwork got sloppy.

He said he needs to use second-string flanker Dylan Cantrell more and will put freshman Cameron Batson into the mix at both outside receiver spots.

“There should be a lot of competition this week,” Morris said. “Maybe some guys get their job taken. We’re going to give people opportunities to do that.”

Morris seemed more upset by a lack of consistent effort blocking than anything else. Inside receiver Bradley Marquez was a notable exception. Morris said Marquez “graded out better than any receiver I’ve ever graded on tape,” for more than just his 11-catch, 184-yard performance.

Otherwise, Morris said, the receivers’ blocking was “feast or famine.”

Tech figured to take a step back in that department with the loss of Ward, who had a reputation as a strong blocker.

“My thing I was more upset with was the lack of effort,” Morris said. “There’s going to be times D.J. Polite-Bray isn’t going to manhandle a guy like Eric Ward did, just because of (the difference in) physicality and strength on the outside. If he’s giving it everything he’s got and putting his body out there every time and putting out the effort, then I don’t mind it.

“But when they don’t do that, that’s when we have a problem.”

don.williams@lubbockonline.com

• 766-8734

Follow Don on Twitter

@AJ_DonWilliams

  • Comment
Comments (1) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
0
2

I agree

Outsider guys did not block the entire game.

Back to Top