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Report Card: UMass v. Texas Tech



This weeks grades will be much better than last weeks, as the first team was outstanding. The second team was a little bit off, but I intend to give more credit to the first team rather than the second team because both the offense and defense were so dominating.

Offensive MVP: Shannon Woods

Defensive MVP: Darcel McBath

Special Teams MVP: Donnie Carona



After a pretty good game last week, Graham Harrell (27-34, 322 yards, 4 TD's) had a tremendous game this week. Harrell completed 79.0% of his passes, while averaging 9.47 yards per passing attempt. From listening to the game, Harrell was on target. I can only recall one pass, to Michael Crabtree on the endzone, where the radio announcers said that Harrell just lofted the ball up and Crabtree had to wait on it. There was another pass that the announcers said that Harrell threw the ball almost right at the back of a defensive back, but those are the only negative comments I can recall. Harrell spread the ball around quite a bit against UMass, 11 different receivers and no receiver had more than 68 yards receiving, that being Baron Batch. Taylor Potts (4-9, 37 yards) was a little rough, but nothing that was too worrisome. Potts completed only 44.0% of his passes and without hearing too much of Potts time in the game, it's too hard to comment. I did like that Potts had a 21 yard completion, again exhibiting his arm strength.


How about that, 179 yards on the day rushing. I never thought I'd see the day that Mike Leach and the Texas Tech offense would run the ball as much as they are this year, and it's an absolute joy to watch. This makes the team so much more difficult to defend. The player of the game was Shannon Woods (10 attempts, 108 yards rushing, 3 TD's and 3 receptions, 53 yards receiving) who sounded like he was absolutely explosive. That's 10.8 yards per attempt rushing the ball and over 17 yards a reception. I think I said it last week and I'll say it this week, Harrell's unselfishness is to be commended. He's taking what the defense is giving and that's such a positive for the entire offense, much less the running game. Baron Batch (11 attempts, 55 rushing yards and 5 receptions, 68 yards receiving) was also impressive as there were times that the announcers said that Batch was just driving the pile for additional yards. Just like Woods, Batch's numbers are a welcome sight, with 5.0 yards a carry and 13.6 yards per reception. Also note that little used J.J. Griffin, a senior, had 1 carry for 5 yards in mop-up duty, probably a sign that freshman Harrison Jeffers will be redshirted for the entire year.


A much better performance from the receiving crew. The only worrisome bit of news was that Eric Morris (3 receptions, 32 yards receiving, 2 TD's) was on the sideline for much of the 2nd half with the same hamstring problem that has plagued him through most of the non-conference season. Let's home that he gets healthy in 2 weeks. No receiver had more that 5 receptions, led by Michael Crabtree (5 receptions, 62 yards receiving, 1 TD). A pretty quiet night by Crabtree's standards, but that's a good thing, especially in a game that's out of reach early. Perhaps the receiver receiving the most attention this morning is Tramain Swindall (3 receptions, 53 yards receiving, 1 TD), who's fumble led to UMass' first touchdown. Detron Lewis (4 receptions, 30 yards receiving) was second on the team in terms of number of receptions. Lyle Leong (1 reception, 9 yards receiving) replaced Edward Britton (1 reception, 21 yards receiving) in the starting lineup. Personally, I like what Britton brings on the outside more so that Leong.


I don't recall one time the announcers stating that Texas Tech was in the 2 tight end set, but I have to imagine that with the recent success Texas Tech has had in that set, that Leach & Co. will continue to utilize this formation. Adam James (3 receptions, 22 yards receiving) apparently had the catch of the night played well in place of Eric Morris and Ryan Hale also saw action in the game.


The main reason that Harrell, Woods and Batch have had success is all driven by the offensive line. UMass had no sacks and no quarterback hurries for the game, it sounded as if Harrell had plenty of time getting the ball off to his receivers. Most importantly though was that the line helped produced 179 yards on the ground on only 29 25 carries for a 7.2 yard average. Impressive. Jake Johnson started in place of Louis Vasquez, who we hope is back to full strength in two weeks. Apparently Vasquez could have gone last night, but it's good to see him get the rest. In addition to Johnson, the other regular 4 started: Rylan Reed, Stephen Hamby, Brandon Carter and Marlon Winn. I think it's important to note that offensive line coach Matt Moore decided to go with Johnson at left guard rather than moving Hamby over to guard and subbing in Shawn Byrnes at center. I think Moore may have realized that the Hamby/Byrnes combination is better suited for the center position. Also seeing time, the aforementioned Byrnes, Chris Olson, Mickey Okafor, and Lonnie Edwards.


UMass managed only 92 yards on the ground on 33 rushing attempts, holding the Minutemen to a 2.8 yard per carry average. The statistics will show that UMass had 1 rushing touchdown, but that was with 0:51 seconds left in the game. Colby Whitlock (3 tackles and 2 tackles for a loss) and Brandon Williams (3 tackles, 2.0 tackles for a loss, and 1.0 sack) led the line on Saturday. The line also saw contributions from Richard Jones (3 tackles), Rajon Henley (2 tackles, 1.0 tackle for a loss), Brandon Sesay (1 tackle), Chris Perry (1 tackle) and McKinner Dixon (1 tackle). Overall, a dominating performance from a defensive line, especially with a UMass offense that had shown the ability to move the ball fairly well so far this year.


The linebackers should get as much credit for stopping the UMass running game as the defensive line. Brian Duncan (5 tackles) led the linebacking corp, again. Marlon Williams (4 tackles) had his name mentioned a number of times. The other starter Bront Bird (1 tackle) had a relatively quiet night. The bowling ball known as Victor Hunter (3 tackles) received some time, as well he should. That guy is as good stopping the run as almost any linebacker Texas Tech has. Other reserves seeing time were Sam Fehoko (2 tackles and 1.0 tackle for a loss), Julius Howard (1 tackle), Tyrone Sonier (1 tackle) and Blake Collier (1 tackle). Again, not an overly active group, but when you hold the opponent to under 100 yards rushing while they have more than 30 attempts, then that's a good day by most standards.


Another interception returned for a touchdown and this group allowed 145 yards in the air from starter Liam Coen on 20 attempts for a 7.25 yard per attempt average. Coen did complete some long passes (39, 19, 19, 22, and 28) which is a little worrisome, but still, UMass could only manage 166 yards in the air for the game. Darcel McBath (4 tackles and 1 INT for a TD) was outstanding for the Texas Tech, his second straight solid game. Daniel Charbonnet (6 tackles), Jamar Wall (4 tackles), L.A. Reed (4 tackles), and Jordy Rowland (3 tackles) all contributed to the defensive effort. Turnovers and scoring touchdowns is a good sign for this defense. I like my defenses to make plays and cause turnovers. I like where this is headed.


Let's give a little credit to the much-maligned Donnie Carona (8-8 PAT) and put the ball in the endzone on 2 of his 9 kickoffs for a 66.9 average. Perhaps (knocking on wood) Carona has turned a bit of a corner and Captain Leach's faith in Carona, may reward us later in the season. Granted, Carona did not have any field goal attempts, but I'll still take it. Oh, and Carona also had a tackle, he's a machine. Jonathan LaCour only had 2 punts for a 33.0 yard average, putting 1 inside the 20 yard line. The biggest mistake on special teams occurred with LaRon Moore fumbling a kickoff return on what would have given UMass excellent field position (I think close to the Texas Tech 20 yard line). He's got to hold onto the ball. I was a little surprised to see Taylor Charbonnet return a kickoff (21 yards), but I'll take it. The special teams ace of the day was Jared Flannel (3 tackles) and is really starting to be a presence on special teams. Daniel Charbonnet (2 tackles) and Blake Collier (1 tackle) also contributed on kickoff coverage.


Take what the defense gives you. If Leach is going to be happy about anything it should be this, that Harrell didn't force the ball, but they took what the defense gave them. That's the key. That's why we're seeing so much rushing success, albeit against relatively weak competition, is because Harrell and Leach are making the right calls. It was nice to see Ruffin McNeill acknowledge that he hasn't blitzed very much, but that he has the blitz packages ready. If there isn't any need to show your hand, then don't. Perhaps McNeill is going to let things loose once conference play starts, or he might just continue to utilize his base defense, so long as he's getting pressure. I would still like to see a little bit of the blitz packages, but I'm not going to argue with the defense's results thus far.


Let's hear from  the DTN readers, give me grades, Offensive MVP, Defensive MVP, and Special Teams MVP!

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