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Start of Texas Tech's QB derby delayed

Texas Tech football fans will have to wait a couple of weeks longer to see coach Tommy Tuberville's first Red Raiders team in action.

Tuberville, who was hired to replace the fired Mike Leach last month, told ESPN.com on Monday night that he's pushing back the start of spring practice from March 6 to March 20. Tuberville said he expects spring practice to end around April 17.

Tuberville, who hasn't coached since he stepped down after 10 seasons at Auburn in December 2008, said he's delaying spring practice to give injured players more time to heal.

Among Tech's injured players is quarterback Steven Sheffield, who is still recovering from a broken foot he suffered in a 31-10 win at Nebraska on Oct. 17.

"He's getting better and should be running around in a couple of weeks," Tuberville said. "We want to make sure we get a good look at him."

Sheffield, a senior from Pflugerville, Texas, underwent surgery to repair a broken bone in his left foot on Oct. 18 and missed his team's next two games. Sheffield came back to play in the Red Raiders' 24-17 loss at Oklahoma State on Nov. 14, but then missed the last two regular-season games. He threw for 88 yards with one touchdown in Tech's 41-31 victory over Michigan State in the Valero Alamo Bowl.

Tech's quarterback battle between Sheffield and Taylor Potts is expected to be the highlight of Tuberville's first spring practice in Lubbock. Potts, a senior from Abilene, Texas, completed 65.7 percent of his passes for 3,440 yards with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last season. He was the country's leading passer before suffering a concussion in the Red Raiders' 48-28 victory over New Mexico on Oct. 3.

Sheffield, who was a scout-team quarterback in 2008, made his first career start the following week against Kansas State and passed for 370 yards in the first half. He finished the game with 490 passing yards and seven touchdowns in a 66-14 rout of the Wildcats.

Tuberville said Potts and Sheffield will begin spring practice on a level playing field.

"We don't know anything about any of them," Tuberville said. "We've got to see what they can do. The best man wins at every position, not just quarterback."