Eric Ward

Texas Tech receiver triple jumps to join track team too

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Texas Tech wide receiver Derreck Edwards will be pulling some double duty this spring. Edwards, a reserve wide receiver for much of the 2013 season, will join the Texas Tech track and field team according to Dallas Morning News.

Edwards will get started with his second sport this weekend at a track meet at Texas A&M, where he will compete in the triple jump. In high school Edwards was a track star, having finished with a medal twice in the Texas state track and field meet. Edwards finished third in the high jump in 2010 and second in the triple jump in 2009.

Edwards backed up senior Eric Ward on the depth chart for much of the 2013 season, including the bowl game against Arizona State. It is expected Edwards will compete for a starting job as Ward moves on, so football practice will be a top priority when the schedules for both sports overlap later this spring. It is reported Edwards will be taking on track and field on a schedule that will not interfere with Texas Tech’s spring football schedule in March and April. Once spring football is done, Edwards will return to the track and field team.

Texas Tech was bound to lose Sooner or later

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Texas Tech’s undefeated season was put to rest Saturday in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma handed Texas Tech their first loss of the season by way of a 38-30 final score.

Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell shrugged aside a foggy start following an extended weather delay to have a solid game by the end of the day. Bell led the Sooners to a win with 249 passing yards, two touchdowns and was third on the team in rushing with 44 yards.

The loss silences Texas Tech from any mild BCS championship conversations that may have been going on in Lubbock, but a shot to represent the Big 12 in a BCS bowl game is still on the table. Baylor and Texas, pending the results on Saturday night, remain on top of the Big 12 standings and now Texas Tech will lose any head-to-head tiebreaker with Oklahoma, but the Red Raiders still have games to play against Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas so they will get a chance to remain a part of the Big 12 race and have a significant impact on race to a conference championship one way or the other.

The thing is, even in defeat, Texas Tech showed many good things that are going on with this program under first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Three different wide receivers (Jace Amaro, Eric Ward, and Jakeem Grant) had 100-yard games and the Red Raiders showed some creativity on offense that will continue to give opposing defensive coordinators something to think about moving forward. Texas Tech is going to live and die by the pass, and they are OK with that. But this team does have to avoid making costly errors. Texas Tech had three turnovers in the game, including two interceptions thrown by Davis Webb. Those mistakes can kill any team’s chances to win a football game, especially when playing on the road. And of course, Texas Tech needs to play tighter football on defense, but this has traditionally been a weak spot for the program so this is nothing new (although they have put up some solid defensive numbers this season).

Texas Tech gets their next two games at home, so they are not going to fade away after just one loss. Next week Texas Tech hosts Oklahoma State, followed by defending Big 12 champion Kansas State and then a huge showdown with Baylor in Cowboys Stadium. The Big 12 no longer has a conference championship game, but the conference’s automatic BCS bid could be decided in one of Texas Tech’s final two games. After playing Baylor, Texas Tech travels to Austin to take on Texas on Thanksgiving night.

But what about the Sooners? Oklahoma has just as much chance to win the Big 12 as Texas Tech, although they lost a head-to-head match-up with Texas. Oklahoma plays three of their final four game son the road, including the season finale at Oklahoma State. Oklahoma gets a week off next week before traveling to Waco, Texas for a big game at Baylor on Thursday, November 7. The way Baylor has been putting up points, Oklahoma’s defense could have their work cut out for them. But if Oklahoma can get out of there with a win, their path to a Big 12 title could become a bit easier to travel.

After weather delay, Sooners slowing down Texas Tech passing game

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A weather delay of one hour and 15 minutes forced a late start to the Big 12 contest between Oklahoma and Texas Tech, and the delay and inclement weather may have played a role in some sloppy play at times. Oklahoma will take it though as the Sooners are doing what they can to slow down on the Big 12’s top offenses. Oklahoma leads the visiting Red Raiders 14-7 at halftime.

Texas Tech has turned the football over twice against the rested Sooners (Oklahoma had a bye last week), and the Red Raiders offense has been held to 202 yards at the half. Texas Tech has had at least 500 yards of offense in each of their last four games. Texas Tech even needed to pull a trick out of the bag to get on the scoreboard, with running back Kenny Williams taking a handoff from Davis Webb and finding Eric Ward in the back of the end zone to take a 7-0 lead.

Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell overcame a shoddy start to pass for two touchdowns and lead the Sooners in rushing with 39 yards at the half. Jalen Saunders has been on the receiving end of both of Bell’s touchdown passes, one from 15 yards and the second covering 76 yards on a catch and run down field.

If Oklahoma happens to get to the end of this game with the win, it would hardly be considered a real upset, with the teams both ranked in the top 15 and Oklahoma playing at home. But it would prove Texas Tech’s offense can be slowed down. Texas Tech may not be quite as high-powered as Baylor (TCU held Texas Tech to 20 earlier this season), but their pass first, second and third offense is showing to have some holes in it against the right defense.

CFT Predicts: the Big 12

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As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the Big 12. 

While we’re at it, be sure to check out our other conference predictions: SECBig TenPac-12

1. TCU (Last year: 7-6; lost to Michigan State in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl) 
What happened last season?
Thanks to injuries, dismissals and attrition of various varieties, the Horned Frogs tossed a lot of young players into their first Big 12 fire and still managed to win seven games. Included in the list of new faces was quarterback Trevone Boykin, who played out the final two months of the season while Casey Pachall dealt with substance abuse issues. Of all the success Gary Patterson‘s had in Fort Worth, 2012 may have been was his best coaching job, and a young defense buckled down in the final month of the season.

So why are they picked here?
Most of them youngins mentioned above are back. The offense should be fine no matter which quarterback, Pachall or Boykin, takes the field. And they’ll have options at their disposal too. Running back Waymon James averaged nearly 10 yards per carry in two games before going down with a season-ending knee injury. In that vein, TCU’s backfield had its fair share of injuries, but when healthy, it should flourish alongside a solid receiving unit.

And that defense? It should be the best in the conference with just about everybody coming back (minus linebacker and second-leading tackler Joel Hasley).

Anything else?
Some departures just before, and around the start of, preseason camp have put a dent in the offensive line and linebacker units. Defensive end Devonte Fields will miss some early-season action as well. But Patterson is well-respected around these parts and he’s shown as recently as a year ago that he can coach around injuries. Also, the Horned Frogs have some intriguing road games at Oklahoma (Oct. 5), Oklahoma State (Oct. 19) and Kansas State (Nov. 16) that should provide tough tests. Going to Lubbock in the early portion of the season (Sept. 12) and Ames in November (Nov. 9) aren’t always picnics, either.

2. Texas (last year: 9-4; beat Oregon State in Alamo Bowl)
What happened last season?
Texas experienced about as many ups and downs as a nine-win team could possibly go through in one season. The Longhorns got taken to the woodshed (again) by Oklahoma and still couldn’t find a way to beat Kansas State, but a come-from-behind win against Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl cleansed the football palate just enough to make the offseason bearable. The offense, led by quarterback David Ash, was inconsistent and the defense exhibited too many breakdowns in fundamentals and tackling. 

So why are they picked here?
That’s a handsome question considering there wasn’t a lot praise being doled out in the 2012 recap. But the simple answer is Texas brings back among the most experienced group of starters not just in the Big 12, but in the country. There’s no denying the skill position talent on offense, where receivers Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley should be complemented by the deepest backfield in the conference. If the defense can improve even a little — getting Jordan Hicks back should help — this team has the potential to be dangerous.

Anything else?
Yeah, about that Mack Brown. Two BCS championship appearances (and winning one) would normally eliminate Brown from being mentioned as a concern, but media members in Big 12 country didn’t seem to have a lot of confidence in him when they picked Texas to finish fourth in the conference this year. I’m a little more convinced Texas will ascend to the top, or near the top, of the Big 12, which should be wide open this year. But if Brown can’t make it happen this year, it’s hard to see him hanging around much longer.

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Award named in honor of Earl Campbell releases inaugural watch list

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(Apologies; forgot to post this yesterday)

Just like bowl games, there’s another new postseason award that will be handed out after the end of the 2013 regular season.

After announcing its creation last August, the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, by way of the Tyler Chamber of Commerce and SPORTyler, revealed Wednesday its inaugural watch list.  The initial group of players released by the Campbell Award consists of 35 players.

While the award ostensibly goes to the top offensive player in the country, it’s very much a Texas-centric trophy.  The release states that “the winner must meet one or more of the following criteria: born in Texas and/or graduated from a Texas High School and/or played at a Texas-based junior college or four-year college.”

As a result of that criteria, nine of the players are from the Big 12, while a total of 14 are from Texas-based FBS football programs.  The Pac-12 has five players on the list, while the Big Ten, Conference USA and Mountain West have four apiece.  One of the three SEC players to watch is, obviously, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel.

A total of 13 running backs were recognized, followed by quarterbacks (10), wide receivers (eight), offensive linemen (three) and tight end (one).

The newest award is named in honor of, of course, the former Texas Longhorn legend and College Football Hall of Famer.  He earned the nickname “the Tyler Rose” coming out of high school in the Texas city.

Below is the inaugural Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award watch list:

· Ross Apo, BYU, WR
· David Ash, Texas, QB
· Kolton Browning, Louisiana-Monroe, QB
· Damon Bullock, Iowa, RB
· Shane Carden, East Carolina, QB
· Kasey Carrier, New Mexico, RB
· Tim Cornett, UNLV, RB
· Cody Davis, Purdue, OG
· Adam Dingwell, San Diego State, QB
· Cameron Fleming, Stanford, OT
· James Franklin, Missouri, QB
· Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa, WR
· Ryan Grant, Tulane, WR
· Deontay Greenbury, Houston, WR
· Marion Grice, Arizona State, RB
· John Hubert, Kansas State, RB
· Nathan Jeffrey, UTEP, RB
· Jeremy Johnson, SMU, WR
· Chuckie Keeton, Utah State, QB
· Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M, QB
· Venric Mark, Northwestern, RB
· Ty Montgomery, Stanford, WR
· Casey Pachall, TCU, QB
· Lache Seastrunk, Baylor, RB
· Charles Sims, West Virginia, RB
· James Sims, Kansas, RB
· Eric Soza, UTSA, QB
· Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State, WR
· Travis Swanson, Arkansas, C
· Zachary Swanson, Virginia, TE
· Eric Ward, Texas Tech, WR
· James White, Iowa State, RB
· Rodrick Williams Jr., Minnesota, RB
· Connor Wood, Colorado, QB
· Storm Woods, Oregon State, RB