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Game Review: UTEP 31, Texas Tech 45

The only disclaimer I have is that I didn't get to watch the game, all of my notes are based on what I heard on the radio broadcast and the boxscore. Let's get to the reviews:

  • Quarterback: A difficult first half with two turnovers was still a fairly productive half of football. The second half, sans the interceptions, was special, especially when you consider what how Harrell led this offense. Let's get to the bad things first. The fumble in the first half sounded like Harrell was hit really hard on the play. The second turnover was Harrell's interception in the 2nd half, which ended a streak of 5 drives where the Red Raiders scored a touchdown or a field goal. Two turnovers in two two games isn't bad and 1 interception with 123 attemps are numbers that are acceptable.

    Harrell did complete 75% of his passes on Saturday night for 484 yards. Harrell also had 16 attempts per touchdown, still not bad, although 14 or 13 would be outstanding, which are B.J. Symons numbers. Also, Harrell averaged 7.56 yards per attempt whereas last week Harrell averaged only 7.10 yards per attempt. Why the difference, Harrell threw the ball down the field more and the receivers had bigger chunks of yards. Stretching the field is only going to help this offense evolve into a incredibly lethal unit.

    It should be noted again, that Harrell deserves some recognition for leading this team on 5 straight scoring drives. The field goal at the end of the first half and then 4 touchdown in the second half. He never loses faith and continues to churn out yards with meaningful results. In other words, he's not just throwing the ball around the field without producing, he scoring touchdown.

    Grade: A

  • Running Back: I'm not sure there's much to say here. Woods and Lewis both had 7 carries, but Woods had 6.6 yards a carry while Lewis only averaged 3.7 yards a carry. Both had a rushing touchdown near the goal line. That says something about these running backs and this offensive line, that we may not have been able to say in years past. Woods and Lewis also each had 10 yards receiving as Woods had 5 receptions and Lewis only had 2.

    Grade: B

  • Receivers: I'm starting to run out of adjectives to describe Crabtree. Truly amazing, an absolute bad-ass, I don't know. Crabtree averaged 12.5 yards a reception which means two things: he's getting down the field and he's averaging a first down every time he catches the ball. Let's not forget the two touchdowns of 6 and 9 yards as well as a 35 and 39 yard reception. The announcers made it very clear during the game that Crabtree's presence in the endzone made it easier for Amendola and Grant Walker to score because they were so focused on Crabtree. Genius.

    Amendola was very good again with 12 receptions for over 101 yards and a touchdown. Amendola had receptions of 21 and 17 yards which means that he's also getting down the field.

    Eric Morris is turning into this team's most consistent third receiver as he finished with 7 receptions and 75 yards. Once again, Morris averaged over 10 yards including 14, 19, 15 and 24 yards receptions.

    Also, Ed Britton got into the act with 3 receptions for 27 yards, and L.A. Reed came up huge with 3 receptions for 45 yards. It should also be noted that Grant Walker had his first touchdown for his collegiate career.

    Generally speaking, Harrell only missed on 16 passes and as stated above he's completing 75% of his passes, which means that the receivers are making catches on whatever he throws their way.

    Grade: A

  • Offensive Line: Officially, there were only three quarterback hurries and only one sack. Not bad. Reed, Vasquez, Hamby, Carter and Johnson each got the starts while Marlon Winn is the only other offensive lineman to get any time. I could see Winn getting time at right tackle for Johnson for the extremely quick defensive ends where Johnson might struggle.

    The rushing statistics seem to be average at best. Overall, only 3.7 yards per carry for the game.

    Grade: B

  • Defensive Line: Once again, from all reports, the line was over matched and UTEP just powered over the Red Raiders as the Miners rushed for 215 yards. That unacceptable, especially for an offense that rushed for only 60 yards a game last year with basically the same team. That's unacceptable, and to think that Setencich said that the guys had a hard time lining up is also unacceptable.

    The are a couple of bright spots. First, this defensive line limited UTEP to 137 yards in the 2nd half, and from my figures only 49 yards rushing in the second half, which is a huge improvement over the 166 yards rushing in the first half. Also, there were some guys who made some plays. Daniel Howard combined for a tackle for a loss and two quarterback hurries and Brandon Williams also had 2 quarterback hurries. Granted, those aren't necessarily game-breaking plays, but at least they are making things happen.

    As far as fixing this problem, I'm not sure other than Setencich maybe needs to get the right combination of players on the field, or the right scheme. Whether it be Henley, Whitlock, Neill, B. Jones or Stoeffels, this type of play is embarrassing and has to stop today. No more excuses.

    Grade: D

  • Linebackers: Part of the UTEP running game needs to also be laid at the feet of the linebackers. In the starting lineup, Marlon Williams replaced Chad Hill and Williams finished with 6 tackles and 1 tackle for a loss. Not a bad first start. Paul Williams and Kellen Tillman also had decent games, in fact Tillman had the only sack of the day. But at some point, it's not just about making tackles it's about attitude and stopping the opposing team.

    Grade: D

  • Secondary: They are better than this. Vittatoe had 59 yards passing all of last week against New Mexico. That's not a typo, that's 59 total yards passing. This secondary allowed 202 yards passing and 2 touchdowns. It's not the short passes and completions that bother me, it's the 41 yard touchdown pass and 38 yard completion to Joe West, the 22 yard completion to Rouse, and the 39 yard pass to Lorne Sam that really bother me.

    Although I don't have the time or inclination to look up last year's stats, but I always thought that this defense gave up too many homerun and these long pass plays aren't a good indicator that things have changed. Last night Vittatoe only completed 4 passes in the 2nd half, but two of those passes were for 38 and 39 yards. Granted, there needs to be more pressure on the quarterback, but this secondary is too talented to let this happen.

    None of the defensive units get failing grades because they did improve in the second half, but last night, Texas Tech won despite their defense.

    Grade: D

  • Special Teams: Once again, Trlica was great on kickoffs, averaging 69 yards a kickoff, which essentially means that he's getting it to the goal line. Trlica was also good from 45 yards. LaCour had one punt for 50 yards and would have had another, but there was a roughing the kicker call. Texas Tech and LaCour were trapped deep in their own territory and LaCour was still able to get off a decent punt. Says something about this kids nerves.

    Grade: A