College football never ends, and during the next few weeks teams will be getting ready for the 2013 season in their spring practice sessions. Here's a look at the Texas Tech Red Raiders and what they'll be working on this spring.
Spring practice began: March 22
Spring game: April 20
2012 record: 8-5 (4-5 Big 12)
Returning starters: 13 (five offense, eight defense)
Following a productive 2012 in Lubbock, no one could have expected the tumultuous offseason Texas Tech experienced. Former coach Tommy Tuberville reportedly left a dinner with recruits amid his courtship with the Cincinnati Bearcats, where he is now the head coach. Left without a coach fewer than two months before National Signing Day, the Red Raiders turned to former Texas Tech quarterback, Kliff Kingsbury, to lead the program. In the process the 33-year-old became the youngest active head coach of a BCS program. The decision to go with Kingsbury was designed to inject youth and energy into the program. With a new system to learn and a new coaching staff to deliver the message, spring practices will be instrumental in positioning Texas Tech for a prolific season.
The Least You Should Know About Texas Tech This Spring
-- Look for quarterback Michael Brewer to make strides in the spring. Kingsbury is well respected for his ability to develop quarterbacks. In only one season as Texas A&M's offensive coordinator, he played an instrumental role in elevating Johnny Manziel to a Heisman Trophy. Manziel broke Cam Newton's SEC offense record, with 4,600 total yards, and he added 47 total touchdowns. Following the departure of Seth Doege, who racked up 4,205 passing yards and 39 touchdowns in 2012, the Red Raiders will most likely turn to Brewer as the starter in the spring and beyond. Brewer played sparingly as a freshman in 2012, throwing for 375 yards and four touchdowns on a 70.8 completion percentage and no interceptions. There's a good chance Brewer may not be named the starter after the conclusion of spring practices, but Kingsbury will want his starting quarterback to become more of a leader throughout players-only workouts this summer. There may not be a lot of competition at the position, however, as Brewer's biggest hurdle to the starting spot may be David Webb, a 6-foot-4, 194-pound freshman, who is an early enrollee and will participate in the spring. Although Kingsbury's offense will require new terminology, because Brewer has experience in last season's pass-happy offense, he comes into spring practice with an advantage to claim the starting spot.
-- Kingsbury has entrusted his players with one of the youngest coaching staffs in college football. The Red Raiders were particularly undisciplined in two areas last season: penalties and forced turnovers, where they ranked 121st (75.5 yards per game) and 122nd (11 takeaways), respectively. To break those bad habits, it takes control and attention to detail. Many times younger coaches aren't the most adept at provoking disciplined tendencies in their players. Sonny Cumbie and Eric Morris -- both of whom hold co-offensive coordinator positions under Kingsbury -- graduated from Texas Tech in 2004 and 2008, respectively. While younger coaches can relate well to college football players, experience is always a big key in proper instruction and teaching technique. Kingsbury will need to be the most vocal coach in the spring so that his younger assistants can follow his lead once fall camp gets underway.
-- For the Red Raiders to compete for a Big 12 title, the defense has to improve significantly. Last year's unit ranked 90th in scoring defense (31.8 points per game). Part of that was due to a lack of defensive pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Red Raiders had only 18 sacks last season, tying for 100th-best in the country. The good news for Texas Tech is that it returns senior defensive ends Dartwan Bush and Kerry Hyder -- both of whom registered a team-leading 5.5 sacks last year. One area for concern for Texas Tech is its secondary, as both starting safeties from 2012, Cody Davis and D.J. Johnson, have run out of eligibility. Both Davis and Johnson were the team's leading tacklers in 2012, finishing with 101 and 90, respectively. Senior Tre' Porter has played exclusively at cornerback in his career but is listed as a safety on the spring roster. Porter recorded 30 tackles and two pass breakups as a reserve last season, and he is one of the favorites to become a starter in the spring.
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