LUBBOCK, Texas - The Texas Tech Red Raiders began the 2009 college football season by being interviewed by national and local media at the annual Big 12 Media Day on Wednesday held at the Westin-DFW Hotel in Irving, Texas.
Preseason All-American and senior offensive lineman Brandon Carter, senior defensive back Jamar Wall, and Junior defensive lineman Colby Whitlock as well as head coach Mike Leach attended.
The group was ushered around to interview with national television networks such as ABC/ESPN, CBS, FSN, Versus. National, state and local radio and print media were given the opportunity to chat with the student-athletes. Over 350 members of the media were registered for the event.
Other teams from the Big 12 were making the rounds the interviews as Colorado, Kansas State and Texas were all apart of the final day of the Big 12 Media Day. Football players report on Fri., Aug. 8 and the first practice for the Red Raiders will be Sat., Aug. 8.
Head Coach Mike Leach's Quotes from Big 12 Media Day
COACH LEACH: Good summer. Our group's been in town working hard, going to summer school. Had a good summer. Looking forward to camp.
Q. Last year Big 12 produced the top two quarterbacks in the Heisman, First Team, Second Team All-Big 12 was flip-flopped back and forth, talking about Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford. Can you talk about those two guys, what you like about those two guys? Is it splitting hairs to say one is better than the other, or would you say one is better than the other?
COACH LEACH: I don't worry about it too much. They're both good players. They're both -- they've got some differences, I guess, but they're both really good players. I don't worry about splitting them. But the biggest thing you worry about is the impact on their team. They're both good leaders for their team.
They both, you know, draw good performances out of the players around them. So I pretty much just worry about them overall and don't worry about who ranks what. You know, you just go out and play the games and kind of bottom line it from there.
Q. Coach, with the way the season ended last year, what do you feel like your kids learned from that loss, and how can you guys take what you learned from that loss into the beginning of this season?
COACH LEACH: We just go out there and do the best you can and play better. You know, it's unfortunate that we lost, but, you know, the biggest thing is there's a lot of things that we did well. Just kind of duplicate that as much as we can.
Q. Mike, when you have the kind of success and the kind of season you had last year, such an incredible season, talk about the transition you have to go through coming back from that, especially when you're making changes at quarterback and you lose Crabtree.
COACH LEACH: I don't think it's really that dramatic. A lot's been made out of it, but there was a time when nobody had heard of Harrell and Crabtree too. It was a couple years ago where, you know, the questions were a little more along the line of how's this Harrell going to be any good? How's this Crabtree guy? What do you mean he's just a freshman? And all this other business. You know, it's a yearly ritual, honestly. So, yeah, there's some guys that are going to play that most people haven't heard of. But they've been around our place for a while, and we feel good about them. I think they're going to do well. I don't feel like there's a big letdown this year. I feel like we've had the best off-season we've had since I've been there. I think we're - I don't know that we'll have an individual player that's as good as Crabtree was, you know, among the receivers, but I think the overall receiving unit is going to be a little deeper and could very well overall be better. Quarterback, you know, if Taylor Potts ends up being the starter, which at the end of spring he was our front-runner. He could have started for a lot of teams last year. Could have started for ours except for Graham was ahead of him. You know, which that's -- in Graham's case, you've got a guy who has thrown more touchdown passes than anybody in the history of college football and is the only guy in the history of college football to throw back-to-back 5,000-yard seasons. So it's not like he was following a guy that didn't have pretty good capabilities. So I feel really good about it. And I think, to me, everything is very impressive. So regardless of who ends up being our starter, if Potts is our starter, I know we've got a good one. If somebody beats out Potts, I know we have an even better one.
So I feel really good about it. And, you know, he's a bigger guy, stronger arm, where's the whole experience, learning curve and all that? I don't know. Probably there will be some things learned along the way, but he's been with us for three years, and he's familiar with all the receivers he's throwing to.
Q. With the loss of Dixon, what's your sense of how strong your defensive line's going to be?
COACH LEACH: I think it will help our team. You know, there is a certain addition by subtraction that exists in football. You know, guys that are willing to pull the right direction as a unit I think are more important than, you know, individuals that can strum up some flashes here and there. So I think it makes us a stronger team. I think, to answer the question in general, I think our defense will probably be a little better than it was last year. We certainly have the chance to.
Q. When Taylor was at Abilene, he had a little bit of a side-arm motion. Did you work with him on his mechanics the three years that you had him?
COACH LEACH: Not for three years. Just initially kind of got it -- you know, just got it up. You know, it's not as hard as you think. Hey, raise your elbow up. Oh, okay, lift my elbow up? It is harder than you think. If you have to wholesale change a guy's mechanics, you're asking for trouble. That's why I get a huge kick out of all these quarterbacks -- and you see it goes right along. You've got a guy, well, I've got a great high school coach. I've got a great quarterback coming along. All I've got to do is work on his accuracy.
Then the college guy, yeah, this guy at the high school, he's a great player. All I've got to do is work on his accuracy. Then the NFL guy. He's great, this big, this strong, he can throw it this far. All we've got to do is work on his accuracy. And those guys will just be inaccurate at virtually every level they play and just kind of the perpetual project. So I think they do have to start out being accurate, and I think, you know, monkeying around with throwing motions is a little bit like messing with batting stances and swings and things. But, you know, little corrections. You just kind of start out -- and you do it in the drills. You do it in the drills where maybe there's not as much going on. You just focus on it, and then pretty soon it's habit. Pretty soon they do it. One good way to do that -- just a little bit like you telling me the best way to reach the "J" key with your finger or something. The best -- another good way is to push up with the bottom hand. They take the snap, push up with the bottom hand. That's going to automatically raise this elbow. And then you tell them not to separate until the last second. You don't want some guy going like this (indicating). It's bad ball security, for one, and then the ball is thrown from all different points. You're maybe here. So you don't want the hands to separate until they're ready to throw, and that forces it up here. Elbow stays high. Then they separate here, and it turns out pretty good. So anybody that's got a side-arm throw or trying to straighten out your rotisserie quarterback or whatever, that's what you can do.
Q. Do you like Brandon Carter's game-day look? Do you think it intimidates anybody?
COACH LEACH: I don't think it intimidates anybody. Well, I'll tell you, the funny thing about him -- have you guys talked to him yet? Oh, you'll enjoy him. A couple things about him. Yeah, kind of looks like a curveball, but it's going to come in as a fastball straight down the middle. He's got the highest test score on our team. He's a ridiculously articulate person. I remember he hadn't had German or anything, and he had the class, so he takes something like German II, I can't remember what it was, because it fit his schedule better, and then of course did real well at it. He's a real intense guy before the game. He's one of those guys that wishes we were playing a doubleheader instead of one game. He plays really intense. And you can literally see, regardless of the score, he's disappointed the game's over. And you're talking about just a huge, gigantic person ambling around, diving at stuff, hitting stuff, wrecking stuff, and then looks up at the clock and is upset that it's over. So with that intensity before a game - to me it seems, you know, as he would come up with his design and his workmanship, it kind of leveled him out and relaxed him a little bit. So, I mean, as odd as it sounds, I really thought it had a pretty positive effect on him out there. And because I've -- you've got to understand, I've studied not just him but tattoos and hardware in a fairly broad way over the years. You know, a couple things you learn about when you coach and you've got 125 players running in and out of there and probably 50 staff members at some point, and everybody's going to the training room for this and that, you learn something about medical stuff that you didn't know. But you also learn something about tattoos and body piercings. What you discover, even though it's not really my cup of tea, there's kind of a creative element to it. You know, and a lot of times it's -- I don't -- you know, it's something that they draw from in some way. So it suits him. He's asked me do I want to get one. And I've pointed out, no, it looks very good on him, but if I was interested in something, it would probably be a piercing because, when I got tired of it, I could pull it out. And you don't have anything to look forward to with regard to me and piercing, believe me.
Q. Now that you've got a little distance from the very public contract issues of the off-season, how difficult was it to put that aside and let bygones be bygones?
COACH LEACH: You're trying to minimize the distance or you're --
Q. I'm trying to find out how difficult it is to put that aside and move on.
COACH LEACH: I don't think it's been a problem. You know, I didn't have a problem. I think that, you know, there's always bumps in the road and ups and downs. In the midst of that, you just go to work every day and continue to work, and then once it all got solved, just continue to proceed without distractions. But I think it's worked out well. I'm just excited about Texas Tech and what we've got going on there and, you know, our opportunities this season.
Q. With the way you guys beat Texas at the end of the game last year, what kind of atmosphere do you expect when you guys go to Austin?
COACH LEACH: It's always tough in Austin. They're a good team. It's always - you know, I don't worry about the atmosphere quite as much as I do, you know, the Longhorn players and coaches and just the quality of the team.