2 PLAYERS, playe 1 PROBLEM: Which?
New coach Tuberville has pair of talented quarterbacks but room for only one in starting lineup
IRVING — It’s not all about what happens between the white stripes.
Picking a starting quarterback at Texas Tech, new Red Raiders coach Tommy Tuberville revealed, might depend at least a little on how candidates Steven Sheffield and Taylor Potts handled themselves Tuesday in a hotel near the DFW Airport.
“That’s the reason I brought both of them here,” Tuberville told writers at the Big 12 football media days. “I wanted to see how they handled themselves in front of you and the TV cameras.”
To Tuberville, everything matters in what will be the most important decision he’ll make since replacing Mike Leach in a tumultuous coaching transition. Nothing, he stressed, is too miniscule for him and offensive coordinator Neal Brown to consider.
It will be, he acknowledged re-
peatedly, a tough decision.
“We look at everything,” he said, “from how they handle the pregame all the way to how they handle the meeting at the end of a scrimmage.”
Of course, how they handle themselves between the white lines also will matter — a lot. But, so far, much of what Tuberville and Brown have seen of that has been on tape; both quarterbacks missed most of spring practice with injuries.
The tape is intriguing, although neither has had much opportunity to prove how he can handle Tech’s new offense, which will continue to emphasize the pass but be more uptempo and rely more on the run.
Both seniors have proven they can lead the Raiders.
Potts started 10 games last year, completing 65.7 percent of his passes for 3,440 yards and 22 touchdowns as Graham Harrell’s successor. But Potts suffered a concussion, giving Sheffield a shot, and the former Connally High player responded by completing 74.3 percent of his passes (101 of 136) and 14 TDs.
In the Alamo Bowl, Potts was named offensive MVP, but Sheffield directed the fourthquarter rally for a 41-31 victory over Michigan State.
The decision-making process was stalled early this spring when Sheffield re-broke a bone in his left foot that originally was fractured when the Raiders posted a 31-10 victory at Nebraska last November. In Tech’s very next practice, Potts injured his throwing hand and was done for the spring.
Both are 100 percent healthy. Tuberville expects things to become clearer after each plays in two scrimmages. There will be no alternating quarterbacks during the season, he added.
How the quarterbacks handle the competition, especially the player who finishes second in the two-horse race, is also vitally important, Tuberville said.
The players say they have a cordial but not particularly close relationship.
Potts: “We don’t hate each other.”
Sheffield: “We’re not best of friends, but we aren’t arch enemies or anything. We understand it. We’re both competing for the spot. It’s business, and we’ve got to be professional about it. It would be a waste of time if we went around writing hateful messages to each other and slipping them in each other’s locker.”
Both players say they’ll abide peacefully by whatever decision the coaches make.
“Coach Brown talked about how we needed to handle this,” Sheffield said. “He said how important it is that the other guy’s going to have to jump on board. Because if he doesn’t jump on board, he doesn’t need to be with the program. At the end of the day, it’s about the team. It’s not about one of us winning this.”
by the numbers Height: 6-4; Weight: 190; Class: Senior Pass yards: 1,219, TDs: 14; Interceptions: 4
Had 370 yards passing in 1st half against Kansas St.
by the numbers Height: 6-5; Weight: 218; Class: Senior Pass yards: 3,440, TDs: 22; Interceptions: 13
Was Alamo Bowl Offensive MVP last season