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August 17, 2012

Notebook: Saturday will be key

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Intensity picking up

Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville was pleased with the Red Raiders' intensity following the team's first Friday practice. The intensity occasionally translated into heated moments on the practice fields, but that's just a normal aspect of preseason camp.

"We were dragging a little bit earlier. But when we got into team work, they kind of picked (the intensity) up," Tuberville said. "We had a couple of push-arounds out here, guys losing their tempers a little bit. That's good. They're competing with each other. As long as they keep their helmets on they're not going to hurt each other.

"They're working hard. That's all we can ask of them right now, right in the middle of two-a-days."

Second full scrimmage on tap

The Red Raiders will go through their second full scrimmage of camp on Saturday and, unlike last week, the team's first-team units are expected to see a lot of action.

Tuberville said that Tech's first unit will get around 40 snaps, the second unit will get 30 to 35 and the threes will get at least 25. All told, with special teams play included, Saturday's scrimmage should max out at around 120 plays.

"We'll put them in certain situations that we didn't do last week," Tuberville said. "We'll put the offense in a bind. We'll put the defense in a bind. There won't be a lot of tackling, but it will be full-speed blocking and all of that."

There will be an increased emphasis on eliminating focus errors, as the offense struggled with needless penalties during the team's first scrimmage.

"We had five or six procedure penalties last week," Tuberville said. "This will be a true Big 12 group (of officials) that will come in, talk to the players, work with them. A lot of guys that will work a lot of our games this year. Look forward to having those guys here and calling (the scrimmage) exactly how we're going to see it in the games."

Special teams being emphasized

The Red Raiders' afternoon practice Friday is expected to focus almost exclusively on special teams.

"We're going to spend about an hour and 15 minutes working just on special teams," Tuberville said. "I think we're getting better in that area. We're practicing a lot of guys in that area that are not starters, which will help -- really helps."

Special teams was an area of concern for Tech last year. The team's specialists -- placekicker, punter, snapper -- performed well, but miscues on the protection and coverage teams proved costly and were arguably the difference between winning and losing.

"There were a couple games -- A&M, K-State -- where it was all because of the field goals," punter Ryan Erxleben said. "Obviously, playing in the Big 12, the battle for field position is huge.

"I think that's one area that we're really starting to harp and focus on. We've actually set aside another practice just for special teams. I think we're looking to go out there and shut a lot of people up about it. We actually want to win games on special teams this year instead of just going out and doing it. That's our mentality."

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