2 PLAY­ERS, playe 1 PROB­LEM: Which?

New coach Tu­berville has pair of tal­ented quar­ter­backs but room for only one in start­ing lineup

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Randy Riggs AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN STAFF

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.”

sTeven sh­effield

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.

Tay­loR poTTs

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

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