April 6, 2007

Practice # 10: Duncan on the Outside

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ON THE OUTSIDE

When Kellen Tillman finished last season after his fifth year, Tech fans were hoping he would stick around for one more go around after being accepted for a medical redshirt. By January, the strong side linebacker confirmed that he wanted to continue playing college football and is once again performing during spring football.

It’s those behind Tillman on the outside linebacker positions who will be looked to for depth in the upcoming years. Redshirt freshman [db]Brian Duncan feels that observing Tillman is giving him the best opportunity to put his best on display while competing for the backup position with senior Ty Linder

“When I was coming up here, I didn’t know anything and now I have an opportunity to learn from him,” said Duncan. “I love the fact that he comes over and corrects me and tells me what to do each and every play. It’s pretty cool playing behind him.”

Duncan admits that when he moved to Lubbock as a true freshman last summer, he came in trying to find a role model.

“You always want to find someone to look up to. When you find that person, you want to try to take their place when the leave and lead because you want to be like that person or better.”

They might call the period between the regular season and spring practice the “off”-season, although it was anything but for the Louisiana native.

“In the off-season I was working hard and doing all that I could do and I would have to say that I would make sure the coaches would see me so that I could make sure they knew to have high expectations.”

The objective was completed as Duncan was seen often by one coach in particular.

“Everyday coach Ruff would see me in the weight room and would see me watching film. He would come up to me himself with expectations and say ‘I need you to do this,’ and you have to make sure you keep the right mentality. Because Coach Ruff and I are on that level where he sees a lot in me and sees a lot of potential in me. He wants me to succeed and he wants me to play.”

Duncan explains that after taking his redshirt year last season, he has not gotten on the field as soon as he was expecting but he is fine with that.

“Actually, when I came here my intentions were to play as soon as I got here. But I learned that I had to get the system down real well before I came out here. You can’t just come and jump in without knowing the system if you don’t know what you’re doing.

“Coach Set gave me the opportunity to sit that season out to get stronger and get faster. I came up here about 250 pounds and was dedicated to lose that weight to become that linebacker that he wants. So I knocked down to 225-pounds and he likes what he sees. I’m much faster now, I know the system, and I’m still learning it as well. My expectations now are that I’m happy to be playing.”

The 6-foot-2 strong side linebacker will definitely be playing next season with a spot on the special teams roster. It’s the backup linebacker position that he will continue to improve on over the final week and a half of spring to try to justify Coach Setencich putting the inexperienced player in front an educated senior.


WHERE DID THE NAME “TUBRO” COME FROM?

Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Clint Stoffels has been making a lot of noise this spring. Many times during practice whenever Stoffels displays his powerful punch from his stance, “Way to go Turbo!” will be heard around the practice field. We asked the Gainesville lineman where the name came from.

“Turbo refers to my bigger leg because I have a quick take off and Dek Bake last year was like ‘You have an extra boost, like a turbo boost.’”

The right leg of Stoffels is significantly larger than the left and he’s got a great story to go with it.

“When I was eight years old I was in a boating accident. I was on an inner tube and a boat ran over me. I got Care Flighted to Fort Worth and had surgery. It cut up my lymphatic system which makes the circulation in my legs and body. So the circulation in my legs is slower. The right leg got cut up and it’s bigger because the lymph nodes don’t circulate the blood.”

Stoffels had no idea at the time that this life threatening accident would only help excel his game of football over ten years later. Not to mention, it also created a catchy nickname.


TWO MINUTE DRILL: STEPHEN HAMBY

What do you feel is the difference between Bicknell and Bedenbaugh?

Hamby: “Bicknell seems to be a little more into the players, a little more worried about the players. He’s a lot nicer I’d say that for sure, there’s definitely a lot less cursing. Those two guys are on totally opposite sides of the spectrum.”

What positions are you currently working at?

Hamby: “I’m back to just right guard only right now. I was doing right guard and second string left guard but I’m just back to right guard only.

What are you working on the most this spring?

Hamby: “Well right now I would say just getting stronger. I’ve gained enough wait now, I actually broke 300 and came back down to 295. I think getting stronger is the most important thing, our defense is strong but we are going to go up against a lot bigger and stronger guys in the Big 12.”

How did it help you by getting reps with the first team last spring?

Hamby: “Well it helped a lot because when you are working with the it seems like no one knows how to communicate and no one talks. When I got out there with the first team they were all doing a lot of talking and when everyone is communicating you just tend to play better.

How have things on the depth chart changed since Aleman left?

Hamby: “It was me and Aleman taking reps together at right guard and I was just sitting at left guard. When he left I had to completely take over at right guard.”

How versatile do you think you are?

Hamby: “It really doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve always played left but right is the same stuff you just gotta be able to tell the opposite of it. Sometimes you’ll see guys who aren’t able get out of the mindset of being on one side and they will switch and start running the opposite way.

As a walk-on did you feel like you needed to earn the other players’ respect?

Hamby: “Oh yeah definitely, I came in and didn’t say a word to anyone and just tried to prove myself. I started to do well finally and people started to learn my name and then the guys didn’t feel like they could just come up and do whatever they wanted to me.”

As a walk-on did you expect to be getting this much playing time and this many reps, this early in your career?

Hamby: “When I came in I thought I was the big guy coming out of high school but wasn’t at all like that. I finally got on the weight and I felt like when I started playing last spring in two-a-days and I started getting reps with the first team I felt like I could play with everyone.

What was going through your mind when you walked-on here?

Hamby: “Why I didn’t get a scholarship somewhere else. I’m not sure really, I still to this day can’t figure out how I ended up here.”


QUICK HITS

• Practice was very sloppy today, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Much of that, however, could be attributed to the inclement weather in Lubbock today. The wind chill was below thirty and there was a constant drizzle.

• When we say the offense was sloppy, we’re referring the skill positions mainly. There were countless dropped ball and several interceptions thrown. As a result of this lack of precision, Coach Leach had the entire delegation of skill players do a set of fifty up-downs, with Graham Harrell in the middle leading them.

• Today’s workout did not involve pads.

• Adrian Reese was the poster child for the offense’s lack of execution today, as he dropped his share of passes. However, he did redeem himself to an extent with a beautiful grab over the middle against the scout team in which he used every inch of his 6-foot-7 frame to snag Graham Harrell’s throw.

• Guard Brandon Carter suited out today, and because practice was not in pads, he worked out through the whole practice. This has to be an encouraging sign for Tech fans.

• Another interior lineman, Adrian Archie, got his first taste of live action this spring on Friday, even if it was without pads.

• Throughout today’s practice, Tech’s quarterbacks struggled mightily with accuracy. Freshman Steven Sheffield threw a few interceptions and lucked out by having at least three more dropped by defenders. Graham Harrell also threw two interceptions in this period. However, it must be mentioned that the defense had an 3 person advantage (8-on-5) during this portion of practice.

• 2007 signee Stefan Loucks is in town this weekend and was at practice observing the quarterbacks.

• Blake Collier had a fantastic practice today, breaking up at least three passes and just being a nuisance in general to the offense. One teammate, senior Joe Garcia, was especially pleased and made sure Collier knew it. Garcia yelled at the freshman, saying, “Yes sir Blake! That’s what I’m talking about Blake! Yeah baby! Good job thirty-five! Work hard three-five!”

• As we mentioned above, the coaches were less than pleased with the performance of Tech’s skill players on Friday. Though the two might not be connected, it is worth mentioning that the skill players were still on the field going through drills thirty minutes after everyone else hit the showers, with no end in clear sight. We have no idea what was said during that time, but it’s probably safe to say that the up-downs and the after practice session are not at all unrelated.



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