The 2017 season has officially come to a close. The Red Raiders lost the Birmingham Bowl after a last second touchdown by the Bulls, just after Tech took a four point lead with less than two minutes left. Without further ado, and for the last time in 2017, here are the grades.
Shimonek started well against the Bulls, but then struggled after USF made adjustments. The senior went 32/59 for 416 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. His official QB rating was 49.5, part of this problem was poor offensive line play. Shimonek had a ton of potential going into this season but just never seems to live up to his full potential. We’ll just put this one in the file next to Potts.
Running Backs: B
The running backs struggled a bit behind an offensive line that failed to create lanes. Justin Stockton signed off his senior season as the leading rusher with 103 yards on 18 carries. Tre King recorded 35 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. With King and Nisby returning, as well as the entire offensive line next season, the running backs may prove to be a major factor next season.
The receiving corps finished the season with yet another solid game. Keke Coutee was the leading receiver with 11 catches for 187 yards and a touchdown. T.J. Vasher was next with five catches for 84 yards, and what was nearly the game winning touchdown. The receiving corps will take the biggest hit of the off-season after losing Dylan Cantrell and Cameron Batson to graduation and Keke Coutee to the NFL Draft. Between T.J. Vasher and Antoine Wesley, as well as a fantastic class of receivers coming in, this group will still have a ton of talent and depth in 2018.
Offensive Line: C-
This unit struggled against a tough USF pass rush while allowing Shimonek to be sacked three times and hurried seven times. They also allowed seven tackles for a loss. It wasn't that they didn't play well as much as they were just undersized against Charlie Strong’s defense. All five starters return next year and an off season with Rusty Whitt should bring a much improved unit next year.
The season is over and there is a lot to look forward to next season. Until then let's enjoy what is shaping up to be a great basketball season before we watch the baseball team bring home a college world series title.
Happy holidays and wreck ‘em!