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Five Thoughts From Texas Tech’s Midland Scrimmage

Very little can be told about a team from a spring scrimmage, but it’s football in April, so we just can’t help ourselves!

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Texas Tech spring game in Midland Texas - Twitter - BHollandSports

It’s April. The days are longer, flawless weather is setting in, and it has been almost three months since there’s been any football played. Those of us in college football withdrawal are looking for something, anything, football-related to talk about.

Enter open spring games.

These are basically glorified practices where quarterback are untouchable, the playbook never gets turned to page two, and defenses get a bit of slack, but aren’t completely let off the rope. Nonetheless, they consist of organized football, so we’re on board.

Texas Tech fans got their first look at the 2016 Red Raiders this weekend in Midland, TX. Here are five notable takeaways from Saturday’s scrimmage.

1. JUSTIN STOCKTON MAY BE A TICKING TIME-BOMB

Speed is the name of running back Justin Stockton’s game. The question surrounding him going into 2016 is, can he have the same explosiveness with an elevated number of carries now that he has DeAndre Washington’s colossal shoes to fill?

That question can’t be answered until the fall, but Stockton looked good on Saturday. If he has even the smallest of space to work with he can break any play at any time for a huge gain. Stats are essentially pointless in spring scrimmages but, for what it’s worth, Stockton had 44 yards on three carries with two touchdowns on Saturday.

When asked about Stockton head coach Kliff Kingsbury said,

“(Stockton) has been great ever since he stepped on campus and if it wasn’t for DeAndre everyone would be talking about him already.”

2. PATRICK MAHOMES PICKED UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF

Last season Patrick Mahomes led the Big 12 with 4,653 passing yards, tied Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield with 36 passing touchdown, and added another 456 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Mind you, he did all of that while splitting his time in the spring pitching for the Red Raider baseball team.

This year Mahomes has decided to give up baseball and focus on football full-time.

In the spring game, Mahomes was electric. He played in four series and led the offense to scores on all four drives. He completed 13 of his 20 throws for 188 yards and two touchdowns, along with some nice scrambles that he’s become known for.

“I’d still be playing if I could do what he can do. His improvement, not playing baseball and only focusing solely on football has been incredible. It’s scary to see what he is going to do this next year but I am excited to watch him. He’s been phenomenal all spring.” Coach Kingsbury said after the scrimmage.

It’ll be interesting to see how his throwing motion evolves this year having left the pitching mound behind, but if the spring game is any indication, big things are in store for Mahomes this fall.

3. THERE’S A GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR THE DEFENSE

You’re no doubt familiar with the defensive struggles in Lubbock, so I’ll spare you the gory details. There’s reason to believe that this may be the year things start to change for the Red Raiders.

Last season David Gibbs was Tech’s seventh defensive coordinator in seven years (a stat that still blows my mind). This means that, for the first time in eight years, Tech will have the same guy leading the defense that was there the previous season. That, alone, should help Tech find some form of a defensive identity.

If predicting how an offense is going to be via a spring scrimmage is difficult, doing so for a defense is next to impossible. Defenders can’t come near the quarterbacks so a pass rushers have to let up before they can disrupt much of anything, and for the guys they can tackle, it’s heavily restricted to avoid injury as much as possible.

However, there were some notable performances. Breiden Fehoko, who started every game last year as a true freshman, continues to establish himself as the foundation of Tech’s defensive front.

Another pleasant stand-out on Saturday was Notre Dame transfer Kolin Hill. Hill’s talent has been talked about by the coaching staff ever since he arrived in Lubbock, so seeing him make waves, even in a scrimmage, was a welcomed sign.

4. Too Much Laundry

While it’s hard to judge how well the offense and defense are playing in a spring scrimmage, one constant you do hope to see is a clean game. You don’t want to see too much laundry on the field. Especially after a season where penalties were an issue.

It looks like the Red Raiders have a bit of work to do in that area though. False Starts were a bit of an issue claiming the majority of Tech’s 7 penalties for 50 yards.

“We had too many penalties and had some guys in there that weren’t focused,” coach Kingsbury said. “We had a lot of positives, but we don’t want the penalties.”

5. DERRICK WILLIES – YIKES

Derrick Willies is a highly touted 6’3, 215-pound JUCO transfer, and represented a big get for Tech. On more than one occasion over the last week he’s shown why. Last week Willies set Twitter ablaze by leaping onto a 60-inch block from a sitting position while wearing a ten-pound vest.

Willies had 65 yards and a sick touchdown on Saturday delivered by backup quarterback Jett Duffey. So far, so good would be the best way to describe Willies’ short time with the Red Raiders.

OTHER NOTABLES FROM SATURDAY

RB Corey Dauphin had 44 yards on seven carries but did account for a fumble.

WR Cameron Batson had 83 yards and a touchdown. Many think Batson will help fill the void left from the departure of Jakeem Grant.

The Red Raiders were impressed by the atmosphere in Midland once again.

“Being in Midland, though with the crowd and the whole event — it exceeded our expectations like it does every year.” – Kliff Kingsbury

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