As I struggle to find a format that I'm happy with after a game, much like the Texas Tech defense struggles to stop the run.
I apologize for the lack of content today, but personal life sometimes interrupts blogging life. We'll discuss more tomorrow.
Without further delay, I submit to you the good and bad from yesterday:
- Graham Harrell: I thought he was outstanding, in fact I thought he was one of the only reasons this game was close. Harrell completed 75% of his passes, had 9.7 yards per attempt and 9.6 attempts per touchdown which are all good numbers. In fact, to put up those types of numbers on the road against a traditionally strong defense says something about Harrell not showing up for the big games.
- Crabtree was Crablicious: Crabtree was good yesterday and for the life of me I can't figure out whether or not it's Leach's play calling, Crabtree not putting forth the same type of effort he did earlier in the year or perhaps a little bit of both. The thing about this offense is that there is always opportunity for a player to get open and be dominant and I can't imagine that Crabtree wouldn't be able to create that opportunity on his own. Granted, you can't account for double coverage, but Crabtree is talented enough to get open and he finally did it against what is supposed to be top-flight competition. It was good to see him on track, and there's no doubting his passion.
- The Offensive Line: Harrell was rushed a bit (8 hurries) but he was only sacked once. Of course, the one hit was brutal, but Harrell picks himself up off the ground and does his job. I think this line is willing to do whatever it takes to protect Harrell, at any cost and sometimes they result in penalties, but for the most part this line is incredibly good. Marlon Winn is perhaps the weakest link, and he's still really good. I like this group and I hope that Reed isn't injured.
- Trlica Hits A Few: Alex Trlica got back on track yesterday, hitting two field goals on what has been an up and down season for Trlica. This could prove to be incredibly important as the season winds down next week.
- We Have A Fighter: I'm not sure that I agree with all of Leach's assertions, but I agree with the sentiment and I love having a guy who's willing to fight for his team. For those of you who bemoan that Leach wasn't that upset about it when the shoe was on the other foot (see OU two years ago), so what. Was he supposed to forfeit the game? Call a timeout and ask for a replay (I realize that replay hasn't been around that long)? No, but I certainly appreciate the fact that he's willing to stick his neck out there and fight for his team. Leach's response was reasoned and intended to create some sort of reaction. I'd rather him say something than not say anything at all. He certainly blamed the officials on Saturday, but that doesn't mean that his own team isn't to blame as well, and we don't know what he said behind closed doors to the defense. Hell, for all we know, he was probably angry at the offense for having to punt once and not being able to convert the lone 4th down. Leach's response to the officiating was intentional and purposeful, if he mentions anything other than the officials then whatever response he is intends to get this week will be diminished. The interesting part is what happens from this point forward.
- Time of Possession: Texas doubled up Texas Tech in terms of time of possession. Texas had 40:12 on the clock, while Texas Tech managed 19:48 (and still was able to get 43 points). Here's the rub, the offense was incredibly efficient yesterday, in fact, it was almost too efficient passing the ball. The running game suffered with only 7 attempts (one of those being a Harrell sack) and was virtually non-existant. Part of saving the defense includes running the ball some in order to keep the opponent off of the field. Leach needs to run the ball more, bottom line.
- The Defensive Line: Nothing earth-breaking here, the defensive line needs to play better, much better, if there's going to be any shot at stopping OU. There's a couple of things working against this group, youth and strength. It's easy to see that Colby Whitlock was over-matched yesterday, but I still get the feeling that this is Whitlock's baptism-by-fire season. Throw him to the wolves, give him an offseason to get bigger and stronger and he should be markedly improved next year. As beleaguered as Whitlock was yesterday, he's the only one of the group that showed up and fought through to make a stop, leading the team with 10 tackles for the day. Yes, the tackles he made are down the field, but he's still fighting and that says a lot. I know, that's no consolation for Red Raider fans now, but that's what's happening. It's not just Whitlock though, Henley only managed 3 tackles, Brandon Williams only managed 3 tackles, Richard Jones had 2 tackles and the rest is inconsequential. That's only only 21 tackles made by all defensive tackles and defensive ends. Texas ran the ball 62 times yesterday. That's the problem.
- No Defensive Creativity: I get really conflicted when I talk about Ruffin. I keep asking myself whether the mess that is the Texas Tech defense is really his fault? He was a mere assistant coach for Setencich who was incredibly passive and it must be incredibly difficult to get a defense to completely change it's tune during the middle of the season. I just have a hard time blaming McNeill for all of the defensive woes, but at some point I need for McNeill to think outside the box and try and try something, anything. Of course, on the other side of the fence you've got McNeill who must decide to play it straight, close to the vest and hope that the offense can do what needs to be done. Perhaps he realizes, better than most of us, the defensive limitations in the talent on the defensive side of the ball and perhaps, he's doing the only thing he knows how to do to keep the defense from completely falling apart. Perhaps he knows that there's plenty of talent coming in the way of recruits next year, but to try and do too much this year just isn't smart. McNeill is in a no-win situation because the idea that a switch at defensive coordinator, which was completely warranted, wasn't going to be a cure-all this season and the responsibility will also unfortunately fall at the feet of McNeill.
- Missed Tackles: McNeill can take credit for the lack of an ability to make a decent tackle, especially in the second half. Granted, this less than smash-mouth attitude has been prevalent much longer than McNeill's been in charge, and for the most part the fundamentals has been better. Chris Parker had a really bad day yesterday and up until Saturday's game I thought he had been the most consistent defensive back to date. Missed tackles are correctable and I hope that changes by this week.
- Quarterback: Graham Harrell
- Running Back: Aaron Crawford, Koby Lewis and David Schaefer
- Receivers: Eric Morris, Michael Crabtree, Danny Amendola, Edward Britton, Grant Walker, Detron Lewis, Adrian Reese, Lyle Leong, and L.A. Reed
- Offensive Linemen: Rylan Reed, Louis Vasquez, Shawn Byrnes, Brandon Carter, Marlon Winn, Chris Olson, Justin Keown and Stephen Hamby
- Defensive Line: Richard Jones, Colby Whitlock, Rajon Henley, Brian Williams, Sandy Riley, Daniel Howard, Tyler Yenzer, Alex Hamilton and Jake Ratliff
- Linebackers: Brian Duncan, Paul Williams, Marlon Williams, Julius Howard, Blake Collier, Victor Hunter and Kellen Tillman
- Secondary: Jamar Wall, Joe Garcia, Darcel McBath, Chris Parker, Marcus Bunton, Daniel Charbonnet, Anthony Hines, Lance Fuller, LaRon Moore, Pete Richardson, Jordy Rowland, and Steven Harris