Texas Tech Football: Fehoko Shows Flashes In Scrimmage

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Once it was learned that Davis Webb would not participate in Texas Tech Midland scrimmage, most fans were disappointed because we would not get to see Pat Mahomes and Webb battle it out for the starting QB job. Yet during the scrimmage, Texas Tech Football fans got a small glimpse of something we’ve been looking forward to seeing for two years: Breiden Fehoko and Mike Mitchell playing football for Texas Tech. The myths, legends, and mysteries surrounding both players began to decrease a bit as fans finally watched these highly recruited players with their own eyes.

Over the next two days we will spend time analyzing the performance of both players. But today, we will focus on Breiden Fehoko — an Under Armor All-American defensive lineman from Honolulu, Hawaii.

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The Fehoko family is as close to royalty in Lubbock, Texas as can be found. Likewise, Breiden Fehoko became a cult hero and a college football legend in the minds of many Tech fans the moment he committed to Kliff Kingsbury’s squad. It is understandable that Tech fans are foaming at the mouth to see Fehoko perform because many think he is to be the savior of the long maligned Red Raider defensive line. However, these expectations are unfair and unreasonable for a true freshman, no matter his pedigree.

In the scrimmage, Fehoko’s snaps came almost exclusively against the second-team offensive line, which is more of a mash unit than a true college football OL. Despite going against a rag-tag second-team OL, Fehoko got off to a slow start but he made some impressive plays as the day progressed.

The most glaring weakness in Fehoko’s performance was the lack of diversity in his pass rush moves. But this is to be expected of a player who is only eight practices into his college career. Fehoko is as strong of a player as Tech has on the roster, but his attempts to simply bull rush through the offensive line were largely ineffective. This technique is obviously Fehoko’s go-to move, because it worked so well in high school that he didn’t need to develop any other moves.

Fehoko often faced double-teams from the guard and center neutralizing his strength. No matter how strong he is he will not be able to overpower two college offensive linemen. Under the guidance of his mentor and defensive line coach Mike Mitchell, Fehoko will develop his footwork and hand placement allowing him to build a repertoire of pass rush moves, but this process will take time. It should also be noted that Fehoko was by no means invisible during the scrimmage.

As the scrimmage progressed Fehoko (who wears No. 4) began to make impressive plays, and one could see his confidence grow during the afternoon.

In the clip below, Fehoko’s brute strength is on display as he pushes the offensive lineman right into the face of the QB causing a poor throw. Fehoko is lined up as the second down lineman from the bottom of the screen, and is to the left of the lineman that jumps into the neutral zone.

In the next clip, Tech fans have to love seeing Fehoko blow up a running play in the backfield. In 2014, Tech’s run defense was only slightly better than that of the Cavazos Junior High Cavaliers. Therefore, if Fehoko can become a force against the run, the Tech defense will benefit tremendously. Against the run, Fehoko’s strength will be an important asset as he must hold his ground and keep the offensive lineman off of the linebackers.

Near the end of the scrimmage, Fehoko sacks the quarterback on two separate occasions. On the first play (seen in the clip below), Fehoko beats his man despite being held and gets to the QB. It must be noted that much of the credit for this sack goes to the secondary because their coverage gave Fehoko time to get into the backfield.  However, this play shows Fehoko’s motor and tremendous effort, which ultimately pays off for him.

On the final play of the scrimmage, Fehoko records his second sack of the day. This play is interesting because Fehoko shows his speed as he blows past his man leaving the offensive lineman standing still. Though Fehoko is lauded for his strength, he also possesses the type of agility and quickness that is rare for a man of his size.  Fehoko’s cardiovascular conditioning is just as important to him as is his strength training.  It seems like this conditioning showed late in the scrimmage as the offensive line looked tired and Fehoko still looked fresh.  Such conditioning will be critical in the fourth quarter of games this fall.

Tech fans must be careful not to place too high of expectations upon any true freshman. We must not anoint Fehoko as the next Gabe Rivera before he even plays one snap in a real game. And while it’s exciting to have a player of Fehoko’s talent, intelligence, and work ethic on campus, fans should allow the player time to grow.

As evidenced in the scrimmage, Fehoko is raw and his game needs refinement, but he also has the natural talent and ability to be a solid contributor as a freshman. If he develops into an All-American, only time will tell but because of what we know about the values and work ethic he learned from his family, I wouldn’t bet against it.

Join Wreck ‘Em Red on Thursday as we analyze Mike Mitchell’s performance in Midland.