Texas Tech 49
I won't bore you with the facts of the game other than to say this...Michael Crabtree displayed the skills that we've heard about since he showed up in Lubbock last fall and it was a treat to watch. I can't wait to see what he does over the course of a season and his career in Lubbock. It will be a treat to watch! Now on to a "quick" recap by position group:
Quarterbacks (B+) - Graham Harrell looked very good in the pocket. He showed tremendous patience (thank you OL) in going through his progressions and spreading the ball around the field. He had a few "bad" (read forced) throws...but that's to be expected when you throw it almost 60 times in 3 quarters. Taylor Potts (Eagle1) looked good in his first collegiate game...showing the tremendous arm strength that many of us saw from him during his days at Abilene High. No real complaints on QB play...but a lot of that can be credited to the boys up front keeping the SMU defense off of them. If this were the Texas, BlowU, or A&M game...I would be handing out an A+ for their performance. For now, we'll keep the grades in perspective.
Running Backs (A- for Lewis/B for Woods) - Shannon Woods has done enough to show Leach that he deserves to be the starting back...but it was evident as to why Kobey Lewis (Eagle2) will see plenty of PT this fall. Even though Woods isn't a big bruising back, Lewis serves as a great change of pace back that adds yet another dimension to the Leach system that has been missing. Woods had a nice run but his 6 catches were all but insignificant as one of them equated to 9 of his 11 receiving yards. Despite Lewis' fumble early on, he made a few defenders miss and turned a 5 yd pass into a 20 yard gain. An impressive showing by Lewis in what is essentially his first game (he had 7 carries last year) earns him the higher grade here.
Wide Receivers (A+...but more like A-) - Considering the expectations that many had for this year's receiving core, giving them an A+ isn't out of the discussion. Other than Britton's back-to-back drops in the 3rd quarter, they put on a great display of toughness and willingness to execute in the system. Gone are the days of the self-proclaimed AFROS and their flamboyant ways...and instead the wideouts have returned to a group of tough, sure-handed guys (Amendola, EMo, Walker, etc) willing to work within the system instead of always trying to make a play. Lyle Leong (Eagle3) looked good coming off the bench and looks to be a good fit behind Crabtree. And oh yeah...that Michael Crabtree guy is gonna be pretty special.
Offensive Line (A) - Not much to say here. These stats say it all: 0 sacks....win the Time of Possession by 9+ minutes. Any time Tech is leading in ToP...it's going to be a long day on defense for the opposing team. Rylan Reed was SOLID at the left tackle spot and his performance, along with Johnson at RT, will go a long way towards a successful season.
Defensive Line (B+) - They had trouble containing Justin Willis in the early stages of the game but the proper adjustments were made and he was kept in check other than 1 nice scramble. Martin was able to run hard up the gut at times but was kept in check statistically. It sure felt like SMU ran for more than 80 yards on Monday. Assuming that the lack of aggression in play calling is going to continue...the front 4 MUST continue to hold their own (at the very minimum) in Big 12 play if the Raiders are going to have a chance at winning multiple games in the Big 12 South. Though he mainly played in the 4th quarter, Colby Whitlock looked as good as advertised on the interior as he earned a sack in limited playing time.
Linebackers (C) - Their performance on Monday was merely average. Whether it's playcalling or personnel (I tend to lean toward the former) these guys just don't fly to the ball. Their reaction seems slow to read run on a lot of plays and this can't be happening, especially against a running team such as SMU. That being said, they did an admirable job in containing Willis and limiting the big play. The younger guys (i.e. Collier, M Williams, Duncan) are definitely quicker and hopefully they will push for starting spots as the season progresses.
Defensive Backs (A-) - Chris Parker showed why he is a captain of this team on Monday. He blanketed his receiver all game long and made some very impressive pass break ups. The safeties (McBath and Garcia) were solid in run support and very rarely did a running play actually reach them. They were aggressive in closing in on the ball and keeping Justin Willis in the pocket.
Special Teams (A+ for LA Reed, B+ for kicking game) - When a wide receiver delivers a hit so big that he makes Sportscenter's Top 10...then you know he's doing something right. It wasn't only that hit that he made that set him apart on Monday. He was consistently leading the charge down the field and recorded 2 tackles. He also had one nice kick return...so I'll let the return for about 5 yards slide. Britton and Morris each had a good runback and Danny showed that he still hasn't learned the fair catch signal. Trlica's kicks were consistently reaching the 5 yard line and he had 1 touchback. If he keeps that up then nobody in Lubbock will be complaining too much about the NCAA moving kicks back to the 30 this year. LaCour was serviceable....nothing that stuck out in my mind. Compared to some of the punts from SMU, LaCour's low, end over end line drives were rather sad to watch.
- Good Tech crowd...great Tech crowd enthusiasm. The "Raider Power" chant during the 3rd Quarter timeout that went back and forth throughout the stadium was awesome.
- My first time visiting SMU's stadium (kinda sad since I live 5 minutes away) and I really enjoyed it. Since it's not that big, there's not really a bad seat in the house (see my above photo from our seats about 10 rows from the top). Concession lines on the visitors side are terrible though as they have roughly half the concourse space as can be found on the home side.
- GET RID OF THE WHITE JERSEY/RED PANT COMBO!!! The all white unis have a great, CLEAN look to them. The black/white/red combo just looks bad...so stop doing it.
- To the Aggie that showed up "Maroon'd Out" and coming to sit in the center of the Tech section...what a moron! Oh well...Aggots don't know any better. Nice job running it up against Montana State Ags...
That about wraps up my thoughts on the opening game. Sorry for the length...I've never been known for my brevity. I'll have some other notes and thoughts on the upcoming UTEP game posted this afternoon. Gotta get back to work...