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April 23, 2009

Notebook: Leach not caught up in draft hype

LUBBOCK, Texas - While former Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree is widely expected to be one of the first players drafted in this weekend's 2009 NFL Draft, his former head coach is not going to be glued to his seat watching the event unfold.

"I hope he (Crabtree) gets drafted as high as possible and I'm sure things will go fine,"

said Mike Leach on Wednesday. "I really haven't given it much thought. I'm devoting most of my time worrying about the people here."

Leach didn't stop there.

"I'm not one of those people that is on the edge of my seat worrying about the draft," he said. "I don't think about it. I don't listen to a bunch of dumb prognosticators guess at it. I'm not a person that is sitting there, held in suspense on what is going to happen in the draft.

"It's a little bit like the Academy Awards. I wait until after it happens and then, maybe, I read it in the newspaper the next day."

The Red Raiders' Friday practice will be their last of the spring, and that is all that Leach is focused on.

"The stuff at hand," said Leach, answering a question about what has his attention.

"Practices here. Our film, here. The stuff that we're doing day-to-day, because that's what relevant on this field right now."

He did have a word of advice to players that may get drafted this weekend.

"Oftentimes, those guys will get drafted and they think that's the end of it," explained
Leach. "You haven't done anything at that point. Now you have to make the team. That's
probably the most important part."

The 2009 NFL Draft is scheduled to begin on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. CT.

FLANNEL COMFORTABLE AT SAFETY

After moving from cornerback to safety at the beginning of the spring, sophomore Jared Flannel feels that he has transitioned nicely into his new spot.

"It's been easier, or smoother if you want to put it that way, because I've been putting more effort into it I guess," said Flannel. "But it's been going pretty well, pretty smooth."

Since the beginning of the spring, Flannel said that he has seen improvement in every aspect of his game, but feels there are things that he still needs to work on.

"Just breaking down and getting my tackling a little better instead of overrunning my plays," he said. "And I guess a little bit assignment because you can never get too much of that."

Flannel saw significant time in last weekend's Red & Black Game and said that his performance was better than he had originally expected. When asked if he felt he was on the right track to seeing playing time in the fall, Flannel felt confident he would.

"I believe so, like I said, just keep working and going out every day and doing our assignments and our job and we'll see the field."

Though Flannel is anticipates seeing the field next fall, he said that safeties coach Carlos Mainord has been telling him and the others to just go out there and improve on a day-to-day basis and that the starting positions will take care of themselves.

"Just go out there and work every day and get better at your assignment every day," Flannel said, repeating his coach's words. "Each day get better at something little that way you don't make the same mistakes as the day before and let that, the starter stuff, take care of itself later on."

Q&A: REDSHIRT FRESHMAN OL TERRY MCDANIEL

On if he's caught on to being first-team left tackle and if he's "there" yet:
TM: "I feel like I'm getting there. I'm almost there, I think, in my opinion. I'm getting better every day."

On if getting stronger was a priority for playing left tackle:
TM: "Getting stronger is one thing, and picking up blitzes is another. Getting back off the ball and set down is important also."

On how much more comfortable he feels currently than when he stepped on campus:
TM: "It's a big relief now."

On if he's earned offensive line coach Matt Moore's trust and confidence:
TM: "I believe he's confident, in me, so far. I think I've done a pretty good job and he believes in me."

On if there's discussion about moving him to the right side:
TM: "I'm staying on the left side as far as I know."

On how much different Tech's scheme is compared to what he learned in high school:
TM: "It's not that much different because in high school, we ran the same offense. It's not that big of a change for me."

On if he accomplished what he wanted to in the Red & Black Game:
TM: "I think I did pretty good and had fun."

HENLEY PROGRESSING AT END

Texas Tech defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill's experiment with cross-training
senior defensive tackle Rajon Henley at end has seemingly paid off. But Henley still thinks that there is much work to be done.

"It's still a learning process for me," admitted Henley. "I'm trying to learn it and it's going good, but I think I still need a lot. I need to learn a bit more, watch some more film on it and I'll get it down pat.

"I have improved in some areas, but there's a lot I need to work on. Making the that transition to d-end is something new to me so I'm just working on the defensive end position and getting better at it."

The Galveston (TX) Ball product registered a tackle for loss during Saturday's Red & Black Game and had two sacks in the team's first spring scrimmage. Indeed, the defensive line as a unit has had an extremely productive spring.

"Overall, as a defensive line we all have experience," said Henley. "I think we are better as a group now. From last year's experience and those guys leaving, it's a big loss but, we can still work through it."

QUICK HITS

• Senior defensive linemen Brandon Sharpe, Daniel Howard and Brandon Sesay and senior offensive lineman Marlon Winn did not attend Wednesday's practice.

• Junior running back Baron Batch did not participate on Wednesday.

• Mike Leach began practice with the bull-in-the-ring drill, and chose to begin with a
matchup between redshirt freshman receiver Austin Zouzalik and junior cornerback Nathan Stone. Next, redshirt freshman quarterback Seth Doege battled against sophomore receiver Adam James. Doege must have been coached up since his last match, because the gunslinger had adequate leverage and forced James backwards. Senior defensive linemen Richard Jones and Rajon Henley battled to a draw, despite Leach joking before the matchup that "Richard Jones has got a beautiful girlfriend. I know he can kick anyone's ass." After this latest match, Leach said, "I think we're all a little excited about this one. Jonathan LaCour versus Donnie Carona." Carona, a former high school linebacker, quickly put LaCour on his back.

• Junior placekicker Matt Williams was listed on a posted special teams depth chart as the first-team field goal kicker. On this same sheet, Donnie Carona was listed as the first-team punter and kickoff specialist. Sophomore receiver Jacoby Franks, redshirt freshman receiver Cornelius Douglas and freshman receiver Eric Ward were listed as first, second and third-team punt returners.

• ESPN The Magazine senior writer, and frequent College Football Live contributor, Bruce Feldman attended the Red Raiders' Wednesday workout.

• During receiver/defensive back one-on-ones, senior receiver Edward Britton tipped a ball to himself for a catch before running out of bounds. Junior Jarrell Routt, who was matched up against Britton, said, "Good route, Eddie."

• Later during this same drill, Leach instructed wideout Rashad Hawk to sit out after the sophomore ran a bad route, leading to an easy interception by the defender.

• During special teams coach Eric Russell's first special teams period of the day, senior linebacker Marlon Williams talked with redshirt freshman defensive end Ryan Haliburton about facing Texas' special teams unit last year. Williams said that he would look up at the football, then turn around, only to have a defender in his face. When discussing Oklahoma's special teams unit, Williams said, "Picture a bunch of Sandy [Riley]s but who run 4.4s."

• Leach was not impressed with his offense's execution early during skeleton period. Speaking to quarterback Taylor Potts, Leach said, "I suggest you huddle them up. You know what this is? It's the period before the storm, where you nail all the boards to your house and get to high ground." Leach was likely hinting that ramifications, potentially updowns, were approaching if the unit did not pull it together.

• After catching a flare pass from Potts during skeleton period, redshirt freshman running back Harrison Jeffers spent quite a bit of time trying to juke Marlon Williams. After he was tackled, Leach pulled Jeffers aside and said loud enough for all to hear, "Why would he (Potts) throw it to you here? Because you're a hell of a lot faster than him (Williams)." The senior linebacker took mock offense and said, "Check the 40, coach." Leach then suggested a race from the 40 yard-line to the goal line between the two, to which Williams jokingly replied, "We'll do it after practice."

• After Britton caught a pass off of a post route, he stumbled and went head first into Jared Flannel's midsection. This prompted Leach to say, "There you go. Finish him with that helmet. Knock his belly button up to his throat."

• The Red Raiders conducted team and a final special teams period on the field of Jones AT&T Stadium.

• Jeffers electrified during team period. After knifing through the defense on a handoff for a 22-yard score, he lept up onto the pads covering the wall in the northwest endzone. This, however, was not Jeffers' best run of the day. Several minutes later, he caught a simple swing pass and ran 10 yards before being met by a pack of defenders. Jeffers broke through them, cut to the right, juked out of the grasps of another defender, and sped into the endzone for a 45-yard touchdown.

• Sophomore offensive lineman David Neill spent time working at left tackle during Wednesday's team period.

DAILY QUOTABLE

"He knocked the snot out of me," - Marlon Williams, referring to another defender during tackling drills.

"Big Tit Terry," - Terry McDaniel, on what he would like his nickname to be.

NEXT PRACTICE: Friday, April 24 at 3:30 p.m. CT


Aaron Dickens, Nicolas Fleming, James Marks III and Katie McCracken contributed to this report.


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