Report Card: Nebraska vs. Texas Tech

 

 

As I mentioned earlier this morning, I missed the first quarter and I've been able to fast-forward through the game, although I've only watched it once, very quickly (thank you Tivo).  In order to save page space and because the more time that passes the less relevant a report card becomes, the grades are after the jump.

 

Offensive MVP: Baron Batch - By far, the most impressive offensive player on the field Saturday. Guy just runs with passion.

Defensive MVP: Daniel Charbonnet and McKinner Dixon - Both had solid games and Dixon gets tons of credit for putting pressure on Ganz to force the overtime interception. Charbonnet is a sure-tackler and that came in handy on Saturday.

Special Teams MVP: Brett Dewhurst - Little used sophomore had 2 tackles on special teams. Yes, I'm reaching.

QUARTERBACK
 

A

Despite only attempting 25 passes, Graham Harrell (20-25; 284 yds; 2 TD)was both efficient (80% completion rate) and had over 11 yards per attempt for the day. Harrell's problem, was missing on 4 third down attempts, but I thought he looked good considering the wind that whipped around the stadium for most of the day. There's not much to complain about or praise as he just didn't have the opportunities he normally has.
RUNNING BACK
 

A+

Really hard to say something bad about this unit, especially with Baron Batch (10; 94 rush yds/ 2; 67 pass yds) looking so dominate. As mentioned above, this guy runs with passion. You can absolutely see it on the field. Shannon Woods (10; 37 yds; 1 TD) is an average running back who seems to be getting all of the looks and in short yardage and around the goal line, but Batch is the clear winner here. Keep in mind that 10 of Woods' 37 yards came at the end of the game and he's just not hitting the hole hard enough.
RECEIVER
 

A

Again, very few dropped balls, if any, and lots of big plays. Michael Crabtree (5; 89 yds; 2 TD) was outstanding, again. It was nice to see Ed Britton (2; 67 yds) get into action on Saturday, his speed is really something. Again, it's staggering to think of the depth and the reason why the numbers aren't bigger are in large part to the Nebraska offense.  The receiving corp just didn't have many opportunities to have the offense on the field more.  It should also be said that every one of these receivers runs hard and they're not easy to get down.  Detron Lewis is a load for opposing defensive backs and although Swindall and Hawk didn't have big games, this group of receivers is so deep that any one of the group could have a field day, which speaks to the overall talent at Texas Tech.
H-BACK AND TIGHT END
 

INC

Pretty quiet game and I haven't had the time to watch the game again to know how much impact they had. I know there were a couple of running plays, with Batch in particular, that Texas Tech ran out of this formation and it was effective.
OFFENSIVE LINE
 

B

No sacks given up by this unit, yet again, and as a team, averaged 6.0 yards per rushing attempt. Still frustrating to see the team struggle on 3rd downs and there only being 1 yard to gain. I believe there was an 3rd down pass that Woods didn't convert and one 3rd down run that he missed. Is the problem schematic? With the wide splits, it makes it that much easier for linebackers to fill the gaps and make plays. Perhaps if Texas Tech tightens up the splits, keeps the two tight ends, and runs Batch around the goal line, things are different. Guys that stood out were Louis Vasquez and Brandon Carter. I could have sworn there were a couple of times that Vasquez was pulling and running really well. Carter just seems to be getting more and more dominating as the season progresses.
DEFENSIVE LINE
 

C

I don't know how much blame I can put on these guys. The only couple of negatives is that the line didn't hold, there were lanes that were immediately formed, but I think I'm blaming that on scheme as McNeill seemed to stunt a little more than usual. Again, the line just didn't seem to have consistent pressure on Ganz and they couldn't really push the pocket much. The most explosive player on the line is McKinner Dixon (2 tackles; 2 TFL) was solid and registered the only sack of the day. With that being said, the line had little help. I thought Richard Jones (4 tackles) was outstanding and Brandon Sesay (2 tackles) seemed to get more playing time that I can recall. Colby Whitlock was solid, as usual, no real complaints there. If I'm going to complain about any position, its the defensive end, where Jake Ratliff looked lost and had zero tackles for the day. Brandon Williams tended to fall back on bad habits, and wasn't very disciplined, although he contributed to the game-winning interception and that's the rub. He can give you that, but it's every down that he doesn't do the spectacular is the problem. Again, my biggest complaint was scheme. I think this unit has more success if the offensive line is worried about a blitzing linebacker or safety.
LINEBACKER
 

C-

Perhaps the worst game for this unit thus far. Had a tough time filling any lanes created by the defensive line, or they just took a bad read on a play. I thought Marlon Williams (5 tackles) looked exposed, especially in pass defense. Again, this is more of a scheme thing, and think that the coaches shouldn't put him out there to cover a slot receiver. It's just not his strong suit. I'm still trying to figure out why Bront Bird, a former high school safety, doesn't fill that roll or perhaps Blake Collier, if and when he gets healthy. Brian Duncan (6 tackles) looked the best of the linebackers, while I hardly noticed Bront Bird (5 tackles). I did notice that Julius Howard snuck into the game a bit more on Saturday.
DEFENSIVE BACKS
 

C

Again, scheme. First the good, the defensive backs seemed to do a good job making sure-handed tackles. I don't think anyone can blame the unit for playing 10 yards off the opposing receiver. It's just not their fault, they have obviously been coached to play this way, despite the fact that being a little more aggressive would be probably be beneficial, despite the risks. As mentioned above, Daniel Charbonnet (9 tackles) had an outstanding day, but that's a bad thing he's having to make so many tackles. Darcerl McBath (8 tackles) also looked good making tackles, but he's a safety, making tackles. Again, not a good sign. Jamar Wall (7 tackles; 1 INT) is the hero for the night by making a nice play on the interception.  The second corner, whether it be Brent Nickerson or LaRon Moore, seemed to struggle.
SPECIAL TEAMS
 

F

There's a lot of problems here. I'm not sure the obvious needs to be said, but I'll say it anyway.  Carona needs to take a step back and someone else needs to kick extra points. It's in his head now and that's no good. DTN user kayakyakr correctly noted that the laces were out on both kicks that struggled and if there's one thing we learned from Jim Carrey, its that the laces need to be out and we probably need a quarterback handling extra points rather than LaCour. Secondly, there's little to no lift on the ball and Carona is going to have more blocked than go over if he doesn't get the ball higher. The point being is that there's a number of things working against Carona and this entire group needs to start over from scratch.  Did not like the 30+ yards on kickoff returns allowed by the return team. Do not like.
COACHING
 

C

I may be the only one convinced of this, but the passive defense has got to be Leach. Hence, Leach gets an A for the offense, and an F for the defense, which averages a C. I thought Leach's play calling and offensive efficiency was a thing of beauty, it's always so much better to watch in person. The defense on the other hand is maddening. I am determined that the defense is a product of Captain Leach directing the defensive coaches that the best plan for most teams is that the defense just needs to stop an opposing offense enough, but don't break. I'm convinced that if McNeill had it his way, he'd be a little more interesting, he promised us as much before the season started and I have no reason as to why he would say otherwise, unless he didn't know that he'd be forced to play it so conservatively. The 4th and 4 took massive ones, although Leach and Harrell confessed after the game that they were just hoping for the offsides penalty, but I credit having the confidence and wherewithall of Harrell saying to himself, "F - it", to our Captain Leach. He would never have that attitude without his guidance and he never would have thrown the ball to Crabtree.

Big hat-tip for the idea for the table to the great Colorado blog, The Ralphie Report.

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