The Result :: Frustrating: I mentioned in this morning's Daily Diatribe that the result was frustrating, but on some level acceptable. As a fan, you always want your team to compete for a number of reasons, most importantly because you're a fan of the team and seeing your team getting blown out of the water is the worst.
Early this week, Leach contemplated the downside of what could happen to a program if you lose early and badly:
"The school’s got a duty to help do the wise thing," he said. "You can get money on the front end, short term, but if it weakens the team overall — then all of a sudden they take a couple more losses that they wouldn’t have or they don’t go to as good a bowl as they might or they miss going to a bowl — you impact a lot of things.
"You impact recruiting. You impact your team’s performance that year. You impact your team’s performance the next year perhaps through recruiting. You impact the mentality of your team as far as their ability to be successful. You may impact their chances once they get to conference, and then ultimately you may impact the chances of how well (a school) can sell seats and market their program."
All of these things considered, I think that the only thing that didn't happen was that the Red Raiders didn't get the win. And to be truthful, there were a lot of positives coming out of that game, despite the loss.
Who Needs Defensive Ends: Seriously, they're all over-rated. Just kidding, sorta. Perhaps this turn of events is what we may consider in the very near future as what turned this defense into what many want it to be. The defense used an odd and effective mix of Daniel Howard, Richard Jones, Bront Bird, Chris Perry, Sam Fehoko and just about anyone else at defensive end. This is a group of versatile and sometimes quick players that were able to contain Texas' most potent weapon in Colt McCoy. I could not have been any more impressed with Bront Bird's play. He was made to play whatever position he was playing on Saturday night. Daniel Howard was a grunt, and I mean that in the most positive way. The guy put forth effort all night and I know that he probably didn't see much, if any rest. Richard Jones surprised me with his quickness.
Besides, it's events like this that can sometimes galvanize a team and Richard Jones mentioned after the game:
On stepping up with a lot of the defensive ends hurt: It was hard with us not being deep at D-line but we had to suck it up and step it up and do what we had to do. I’m proud of everybody that played D-line, I think we played good and we fought until the end, that’s all we could do.
Walk-On's Can Play: I'm sure this happens all of the time. Player gets injured or is awful and player is replaced by a walk-on. SS Franklin Mitchem doesn't even make the trip to Austin and former walk-on Brett Dewhurst more than just filled in for Mitchem.
On experience like for you being a walk on and starting against the No. 2 team: I don’t think of it as the No. 2 team, I think of it as another game, but I have confidence in myself and I go out there and practice like I play. It happened to be Texas, a conference game and everything but I didn’t think of it like that, I just came out here and played the game.
His stat-line for the day was only 5 tackles and 1 TFL, but I thought he played well.
Donnie Carona thought it would be best to simply punt the ball as low and as short as possible and the result is a Shipley punt return for a touchdown. Enter walk-on Ryan Erxleben who was punting for Lake Travis last year and now he's punting in the biggest and best teams in the nation. Erxleben's punting wasn't flawless, but it was just fine I shudder to think what would have happened had he not been in the fold.
Perhaps this exemplifies the biggest difference between Texas and Texas Tech. A Longhorn goes down and they get replaced by an all-state player that has a tremendous pedigree. A Texas Tech player goes down and we're talking about making things work with what we have.
They're All Growns Up: You're seeing some freshmen be difference makers on defense. For those of you who've never seen CB D.J. Johnson, then you're seeing the future at cornerback. Redshirt freshman FS Cody Davis laid the hit on the Longhorn and although the pass was high, perhaps that's the why the ball wasn't caught. Johnson was there to make the play. True freshman RB Eric Stephens looks like a seasoned kick-returner and he's going to return one sooner rather than later. Redshirt freshmen receivers Alexander Torres (7 : 59), Cornelius Douglas and Austin Zouzalik (5 : 73) got playing time on one of the biggest stages in the college football world.
The Offensive MVP :: QB Taylor Potts: I'm going to quote Leach again on his thoughts on Potts, which as I said this morning, may have been the highest praise that I've seen a quarterback receive:
He’s really tough. He got hit hard a number of times and got up. I don’t think it affected his play to the negative. He’s a rare, rare, rare quarterback. There are a lot of great quarterbacks out there that ultimately have great careers that can’t do what I just described, and that is; getting hit really, really, really hard, and then come in the next play, the next series, and march down the field at 10 yards a clip, and he did that twice. I think anyone that had any doubts about Taylor Potts not being able to be a good Division-1 quarterback, I think those can pretty much be dispelled.
Potts finished the day with a less than stellar 6.77 yards per attempt (46-62 : 420 : 3 TD : 1 Int), but I don't recall seeing a Texas Tech quarterback do what he did. He can make just about every throw and despite not going deep very often, he was awfully effective, completing near 75% of his passes.
The Defensive MVP :: LB Bront Bird: Bird catches a lot of crap from me on DTN and I hope I've qualified my complaints this year about Bird in that he's a helluva run defender, but struggles in the passing game. I blame the coaching staff, not Bird, for putting him in those situations, but last night, Bird was a machine. Playing defensive end, a position, he's probably never played before, he finished the day with 8 tackles, 3 TFL and 1 QB hurry. You could make a case that the rest of his linebacker mates could have deserved this honor, each had 10 tackles, or make a case for the beleagured defensive line, but in my opinion Bird deserves this all by himself.
The Special Teams MVP :: P Ryan Erxleben: I mentioned Erxleben above, but averaging 38 yards a punt, getting off a punt that should have been downed inside the UT 5 yard line and coming off the bench completely cold. Again, all as a preferred walk-on and true freshman.