September 01, 2012
By Mike Graham
Here are three things to keep an eye on during Texas Tech's opener against Northwestern State.
1. Race to the third quarter
The Red Raiders should have this game in hand by the third quarter, meaning the coaches should be able to start pulling the team's starters and get guys like backup quarterback Michael Brewer some playing experience. Tech can't completely erase the bad memories from last year with a rout, but the team could exercise some of those demons with a convincing win tonight against NSU.
2. Return of Eric Stephens
Today's game marks Eric Stephens' return from that horrible compound knee injury he sustained during the Texas A&M game last year. Is Stephens still the same running back as he was before the injury?
Stephens won't get a whole lot of touches tonight, but we will be able to see the senior running back do some work.
Check out his top end speed. Is it still there? Also watch his body language and running decisions. Is he confident in that left knee?
Today will go a long way toward learning where Stephens actually is in his recovery from the injury.
3. Will Smith's debut
One of the biggest talking points this offseason was the Red Raiders' improved corps of linebackers. Watch No. 7 on defense, Will Smith.
The 6-foot-3, 224-pound middle linebacker had a great spring and carried his great performances through preseason camp. If the Red Raiders' front seven is going to have a better year, Smith is going to be a big part of it.
Don't be surprised if he is part of a Northwestern State turnover today.