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Texas Tech spring game: Three things to watch

Texas Tech will hold its annual spring game at a new locale this weekend, the Dallas Cowboys' brand-new headquarters known as The Star in Frisco, Texas. Here are three things we'll be keeping an eye on when the Red Raiders hit the field at 4 p.m. ET Saturday:

1. Another good day for the D?

In their scrimmage last weekend in Midland, Texas, the Red Raiders' defense put together a nice showing and won the day, forcing three-and-outs on the first four drives of the afternoon and finishing with a 50-36 victory in their spring scoring system. That has to be a good sign of progress, right? We've heard good things about Octavious Morgan and the newcomers in Texas Tech's secondary, and the depth chart is now full of guys who've been playing in defensive coordinator David Gibbs' system for multiple years. It's certainly time for the Big 12's worst defense to start making significant progress. A sharp, cohesive performance from that group Saturday would be nice to see.

2. Shimonek in control

The spring game should provide a good look at Nic Shimonek and how he's coming along as Texas Tech's new QB1. This will be the most we've seen him play since his dazzling second-half cameo against Kansas last season where he threw for 271 yards and four touchdowns. Coach Kliff Kingsbury is putting the keys to the car in his hands this offseason, and we'll see how he's gelling with what could be a great cast of receivers. Behind Shimonek, there's a three-man battle for the No. 2 job between Payne Sullins, juco transfer McLane Carter and freshman Xavier Martin, and this scrimmage should offer a decent assessment of how well they're operating the offense.

3. Offensive line coming together

This was an interesting question mark for the Red Raiders entering spring ball, considering they have a lot to figure out up front and a new offensive line coach in Brandon Jones to figure out the answers. It looks like Travis Bruffy and Terence Steele have settled into the left tackle and right tackle jobs, respectively, but the situation at guard is more uncertain. Madison Akamnonu is out for the spring after back surgery, and that meant three of the top four guards at the Midland scrimmage were newcomers. One silver lining: All these spring reps have to be good for the development of touted true freshman guard Jack Anderson, who could play a major role as a true freshman.