February 18, 2012

Notebook: Cold, but no wind

Saturday's practice was a cold one.
It was about 41 degrees inside Jones AT&T Stadium for spring practice No. 2, but with rain and wind it felt more like it was in the mid-20s.

"A little cool, but we worked through it," head coach Tommy Tuberville, who almost always mentions the weather in his opening address, said. "We had a couple of pulled muscles."

Tuberville continued talking about the weather later on in his eight-minute question and answers session with the local media.

"It doesn't bother the players," he said. "They were running full speed so they weren't cool at all. It's just all of us standing around and watching that is affects more than anybody. This was not too bad, it could be a lot worse. The wind has been good and yesterday we didn't have any wind at all. I'd rather have this with no wind than 65 degrees and the wind blowing 35 miles per hour.

"That's why we need an indoor workout area. That's why we've started so early, the wind blows a lot harder once we get into March and hopefully we get some good practice in throwing the ball before the wind picks up."

In cold weather and a drizzle that blew nearly sideways during practice, the coaches saw about the same performance they saw yesterday. It's hard to tell much before the Red Raiders can put the pads on, but everyone seems pleased with the junior college transfers and overall speed that has been added to the roster thanks to the early enrollees.

"You can't have any contact, but I like the speed of the team," Tuberville said. "We looked quicker, looked faster at a lot of positions. We've got a lot of depth especially at receiver. A lot of the offensive and defensive line things will start sorting themselves out when we get the pads on.

"We're getting a little faster. Every year we want to add a little faster and quicker. That's the name of the game in this league."

Tuberville also addressed the biggest story of Friday's practice in his first media availability of the spring practice sessions.

"We made some strides in recruiting," he said. "When you get Will Smith and Chris Payne, both those guys are really going to help. Gives us some depth. You've got a couple of guys last year who shouldn't have played in Sam Eguavoen and Blake Dees, true freshmen, that's hard to do in the Big 12.

"They'll grow up. They've learned. Had some hard knocks and they'll need a good spring in front of them."


Glasgow thrown under the bus

Red Raider fans always wondered how popular former defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow was with his players last season.

Glasgow loved to yell, but seemed like a nice guy off the field. His players acknowledged that last season.

The players also said they liked the simplicity of the 4-2-5 defense and its terminology compared to what they were trying to accomplish with James Willis' 3-4 defense in Tuberville's first year as head coach in 2010.

But with Glasgow gone, defensive tackle Dennell Wesley said the team likes new defensive coordinator Art Kaufman and the 4-3 defense better.

"No, not at all," Wesley said when asked about whether the transition from the 4-2-5 defense to the 4-3 defense was difficult. "This coordinator makes things simpler than the last defensive coordinator. (Glasgow) just complicated things more than they were supposed to be."

Then the local media got to talking about the new 4-3 defense with Wesley.

"It's a much better defense to stop the run. You've got more linebackers than cornerbacks on the field," Wesley said rather tongue in cheek.


Amping up the physicality

Many coaches will tell you that if you can run the ball and be physical on defense, you'll likely be able to play with anybody in the country. Tuberville is definitely a proponent of that theory. The head ball coach wants to see his offense and defense ramp up the level of physicality in 2012, especially in the running game.

"Offensively, we've got to be able to run the ball better. We ran for 50 yards against Baylor and they ran for 300. You can't beat anybody doing that. We've got to do what we did in the first three or four games last year running the football, getting 150 plus, 200 yards a game. That'll help everybody. Help the defense, help the passing game, help our special teams, and with Ronnie Daniels back, I think he's really going to help."


Injuries and absences

There were several players either missing or injured on Saturday. Coach Tuberville gave an update on three players after practice and made his opinion on NCAA spring protocol clear.

"(Jackson Richards) has an eye infection, so we kept him out the first two days. He'll be back on Tuesday. Leon Mackey had some personal issues back home. He'll be back. Eric Ward fell on his shoulder yesterday and bruised his shoulder. He'll probably miss a couple of weeks. That's the bad thing about coming out in shorts. It's supposed to be one of those things where you kind of ease into it, but it's kind of hard to ease into football. Spring football, you should be able to put pads on every practice."


Gallington settling in at center
Center Deveric Gallington is getting ready for his last season in the Big 12. The senior lineman is excited to start his final spring in the red and black and is looking forward to being a team leader this season.

"It's pretty exciting. You come into your senior year, it's your last go around of spring ball, and everybody looks at you as a leader. The young guys come in and they want to know who a leader is, so they look up to you, so you've got to set a good example. It's been exciting so far. All the new players that have come in, the returning players, everybody's here to work and we're excited about the season."

Gallington also said that he's getting the hang of center. His snaps have become much more consistent, and he hopes his hard offseason work will transfer to the football field.

"I'm a lot more comfortable with it. I've worked on it this offseason with Seth, getting some snaps in. It's going a lot smoother," he said. "The tempo of the offense kind of goes on the center and the quarterback, so if you guys are playing fast then the whole offense is going to go fast, so that's how the offense runs."

The Red Raiders will strap on the pads for the first time come Tuesday and just about everyone is ecstatic to hit somebody. Gallington said that the team is ready to see how the team will shape up over the next few weeks.

"Everybody' excited about it. They've got a new defense over there. A lot of them are comfortable with the 4-3, so I know they're pumped about it. We're pumped because we know we've got to improve the offense that we had last year and a lot of players have to fill in the open spots, so we're looking forward to getting pads on."


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