Texas Tech held a scrimmage open to the public today after wrapping up their first week of fall camp. The scrimmage lasted a little over an hour, and guys as far down as third or fourth on the depth chart all got reps.
Portions of the scrimmage were set up like real drives, with the offense starting at 1st and 10 and going until stopped by the defense. Other portions were situational, where the offense would play 3rd and 8 multiple times in a row.
No official score was kept, but by the end it seemed fairly even between the offense and defense. Each unit made big plays at times, and while the offense sustained a few drives, the defense also forced multiple three-and-outs.
Some position battles are bound to carry all the way through fall camp and into the season, but below are some positions thought to be contested and their respective starter in today’s scrimmage:
Justin Stockton started the scrimmage at running back, but split a few reps with Desmond Nisby, who just joined the team a couple weeks ago as a JUCO transfer. Sophomore Da’Leon Ward and junior DeMarcus Felton did not play.
The five starters at offensive line were Travis Bruffy at left tackle, Terrence Steele at right tackle, Paul Stawarz at center, and Jacob Hines and Jajuan Delaney at the guard spots. The guards were a bit of a surprise, as Hines and Delaney are a JUCO transfer and graduate transfer, respectively and seemed to be behind Jack Anderson and Madison Akamnonu on the depth chart this summer. The guard spots are worth monitoring as we approach the season.
The defensive line starters consisted of Zach Barnes and Lonzell Gilmore at ends, and Nick McCann and Broderick Washington on the inside. Eli Howard, a projected starter at defensive end, didn’t play in the scrimmage.
At linebacker to start were Jordyn Brooks and Brayden Stringer. Dakota Allen didn’t participate today, but is expected to start alongside Brooks when the season starts.
At defensive back there weren’t any real surprises, though a few position battles will continue regardless of today’s starting lineup. Desmon Smith and Octavius Morgan were the corners, Jah’Shawn Johnson and Kisean Allen were the safeties and Douglas Coleman started at nickel.
All offseason the Tech defense has emphasized forcing turnovers and rushing the passer. There were some positive signs in both areas today, as they racked up a few sacks, batted down balls at the line of scrimmage and came away with two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Perhaps the biggest question regarding the offensive side of the ball for Texas Tech was how Nic Shimonek would look at quarterback after replacing Patrick Mahomes as the starter. No official stats were kept, but by my rough count he finished 16/23 for 168 yards with a 35-yard touchdown to Keke Coutee and an interception.
Many speculated that the offense would adapt to Shimonek’s skill set compared to how it was run under Mahomes, and there were signs of that in the scrimmage. Rarely did Shimonek throw downfield or throw on the move like Mahomes often did. Then again, the coaching staff likely kept everything pretty vanilla since it was an open scrimmage and they’re only one week into camp. The offense might look much more complex during the season.
Some defensive highlights included forcing back-to-back three and outs to start the game, followed by Desmon Smith intercepting Shimonek on the third drive. When the backup offense was facing the backup defense later on in the day, Justus Parker intercepted McLane Carter and returned it about 35 yards to the house. He was flagged for front flipping into the end zone.
Based on reps taken today, Carter appears to have a firm grasp on the backup quarterback spot. That may change when Jett Duffey returns from a two semester university suspension later this month. The other backup quarterback candidate, true freshman Xavier Martin, has been moved to slot receiver for the time being.
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