Report Card: SMU v. Texas Tech

Offensive MVP: Baron Batch

Defensive MVP: Daniel Charbonnet

Special Teams MVP: Taylor Charbonnet

QUARTERBACK
 

B

A much better performance by Graham Harrell, at least in my opinion. I thought he looked sharper this week than he has in the past, although I understand Leach's criticisms of Harrell, he's not quite on target yet, but I trust Leach to correct that problem. No interceptions, although there were a couple of balls that easily could have been intercepted, one coming to mind was the pass that hit the SMU defender in the back. As far as good numbers are concerned, Harrell finished with 8.7 yards per attempt, which is very good. Five TD's puts Harrell ahead of Kingbury all-time at Texas Tech. I'd still like to see Harrell not force the deep pass, just take what the defense gives you and the deep stuff will happen. I especially don't like it when you're down at your own 2. Get out of your endzone and get some positive yards.

I thought Potts looked pretty sharp and the one thing that I try and watch with Potts is how long does he hold onto the ball, and last night he seemed to get rid of it much quicker than in past year. That's a sign that he's making quicker decisions and he's making good decisions (6 for 7 for 95 yards). It would have been nice to see him lead the team for a touchdown that last scoring drive, but I'm not complaining. I thought he looked sharp.

RUNNING BACK
 

A

This is the best I've ever seen the running game. As a group, Batch and Woods averaged 6.7 yards per attempt, had 27 carries, and if you're asking me, the offense looked so much better against SMU, in large part because of the outstanding running game. Batch had 98 yards on 10 carries and 1 TD. Batch seems to do a better job of breaking off for longer runs, a trend that's been true for the first 3 games. Out of the backfield, Batch accounted for 5 catches and 71 yards, for a 14.2 yard per catch average.

Shannon Woods was running with attitude (my wife even noticed) and he seemed genuinely excited to be able to break out a bit. Woods finished with 86 yards on 13 carries for 6.6 yards per carry and 2 receptions for 47 yards. That's a very productive day by himself. I like where this is headed and I just hope Leach & Co. continue to feed the ball to Batch and Woods from here on out.

Aaron Crawford did not play last night due to a turf toe injury .

RECEIVER
 

C

A strange game for the receiving corp. As a group, they missed more balls than I can remember and that usually just doesn't happen with this group, they're usually pretty sure-handed. Other than Michael Crabtree (8 receptions for 164 yards and 3 TD's), Detron Lewis (5 receptions for 86 yards and 1 TD) had the best game, but after that, no receiver did much to impress. At halftime, Leach said that he didn't have an X-receiver who could catch a ball, which is Britton and Todd Walker. With Lyle Leong in the doghouse, and Leach disappointed with his regular X-receivers (Britton and Walker), expect to see Rashad Hawk (4 receptions for 44 yards) and Tramain Swindall (4 receptions for 31 yards) continue to emerge and start taking away some playing time from the veterans. This is the second game in a row where Eric Morris (5 receptions for 25 yards) has had trouble getting open. It would be nice to seem him get on track.
H-BACK AND TIGHT END
 

C

Adam James caught 1 pass, late in the game, for 16 yards. I would like to see a more power running game when Texas Tech goes to the H-Back/Tight End Set, and this may be a criticism of the staff more so than the players, but if Texas Tech is going to utilize the set, then run the ball. I recall using the set on the last play of the 2nd half, where Harrell threw incomplete to Crabtree, and then at the end of the game, where we couldn't punch it in the endzone. Would like to see some improvement there.
OFFENSIVE LINE
 

A

Only 1 sack and 180 yards rushing. That's pretty good, of course the sack resulted in Harrell coughing up the ball. Vasquez let his man go and I guess he wasn't sure that Harrell had dropped back that far. Other than that, there were some really nice plays by the line. On Batch's touchdown run, Brandon Carter pulled and just unloaded on an SMU defender, allowing Batch to romp 43 yards for a touchdown. Reed played most of the game and I imagine the staff is trying to stretch him out a little bit before conference play.
DEFENSIVE LINE
 

B

As a group, I thought they did some really nice things. McKinner Dixon (7 tackles, 1 sack) was dominant and I thought they did a good a job of controlling the line of scrimmage. Daniel Howard (3 tackles, 1 sack) saw a ton of playing time, mostly standing up as a rusher. SMU only rushed for 61 yards on 23 carries, so I'm pleased with that effort. Colby Whitlock, Rajon Henley, Brandon Williams (2 tackles) and Richard Jones (1 tackle) didn't show up much in the box score, but they allowed the linebackers and defensive backs to make plays. I would like to see this group get a little more pressure, and I'm tempted to blame the gameplan more than the players. Rushed 4 almost all game long and I didn't see much in terms of blitzes or pressure from other points of the defense. Bottom line, this group did their job.
LINEBACKER
 

B

A pretty quiet night for the linebacking group. Brian Duncan (5 tackles) led the way, but this was a game where the linebackers weren't going to be too heavily involved. Marlon Williams (3 tackles) and Bront Bird (1 tackle) were a bit off statistically, but again, with so many pass attempts and the defensive line stuffing the run these guys weren't going to get much action.
DEFENSIVE BACKS
 

A+

I'm going to have a hard time complaining about the defensive backs. The player of the game was Daniel Charbonnet (2 tackles, 3 interceptions and 1 pass break-up) as he was around the ball all night long. You love to see that from your strong safety. We also saw Darcel McBath (5 tackles, 1 interception and 1 pass break-up) show some of the athleticism that we knew he had and probably should have had 2 interceptions on the day. Jamar Wall (3 tackles, 1 interception and 3 pass break-ups) redeemed himself from two subpar weeks with an outstanding performance. A very quiet night for Brent Nickerson, who didn't break into the boxscore, but that's a good thing. I didn't even notice him yesterday, which means that the quarterback never looked to his side or his receiver was covered up. L.A. Reed (3 tackles) was responsible for the lone touchdown, but I'm willing to cut him some slack as this was his first game back after nursing a injury the last two weeks.
SPECIAL TEAMS
 

B

Uggh. I'm still willing to stick with Donnie Carona (1-2, 35 yard make and 44 yard miss; 4-5 extra points; 8 kickoffs and 2 touchbacks). I see improvement, but he's still got a long way to go. I think Leach sees the improvement too, and he knows that Carona has the most potential and the more he works out his kinks here, the better Texas Tech will be in conference. Kickoff coverage limited SMU to 20.3 yards per return and the punt return, there was only 2 punts for Texas Tech for the game, resulted in -1 yard return. Taylor Charbonnet stood out last night on punt coverage. LaRon Moore (1 KO return for 25 yards) and Jamar Wall (1 KO return for 28 yards) were good returning kickoffs. While the Eric Morris (2 KO returns for 38 yards) had a nice 29 yard punt return, who was hit trying to return another punt, was solid. Jonathan LaCour (2 punts for a 45 yard average), the forgotten one, had a good day as well. I'm grading up here because I see improvement.
COACHING
 

B

Offensively, I thought Leach did a good job of taking advantage of a poor SMU run defense and thought it was great to see 24 rushing attempts. I like that Leach wants to see Harrell improve on his play, but I'm still not too worried, though I will be in two weeks if Harrell doesn't return to his 2007 form. Defensively, I would have liked to have seen a little bit more, but perhaps McNeill is waiting to for conference play to show his hand. D. Howard was utilized more this game than in previous games and that was an attempt to get some pressure on the SMU quarterback without having to change things up too much. Still, I'd like to see some safety blitzes or a linebacker streak up the middle of the opponents' line to pressure the quarterback.
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