September 4, 2006

Grading the Red Raiders effort against SMU

The grades are in Red Raider fans! What went wrong Saturday against SMU and what went right? Obviously, it is hard to find a lot of fault with a 35-3 romp but that won't stop us from grading the team's performance. Principal Joe Yeager hands out the marks..

The best way to describe Texas Tech's performance against SMU is "sound." The Red Raiders were not terribly spectacular like the were against, say, Texas A&M last year, but they made few mistakes and looked like a beautifully-coached and very well-rounded team. Continued improvement and - hopefully - the addition of a few currently-idled players should dial up Tech's turbo boost as the season progresses.

QUARTERBACK: From the moment he stepped on the field, Graham Harrell looked more comfortable in the pocket than last year's starter, Cody Hodges. Harrell did a fantastic job reading blitzes and Robert Johnson benefitted to the tune of 15 catches... a Texas Tech single-game record. Harrell zips the wide receiver screen with a lot of zest, and has nice touch on his passes in the flat. He is also an amazingly patient quarterback (see, for example, Harrell wait for an onrushing, leaping Mustang to return to ground before delivering the initial touchdown pass to Todd Walker), who hangs tough in the pocket. As expected, there were a few timing issues, which resulted in passes that trailed receivers. Hopefully Harrell will add the deep game as the season progresses.

Grade: B+

RUNNINGBACK: It looks like the running back position is safe and sound despite Baron Batch's absence. Sophomore Shannon Woods fully lived up to his own hype rushing for 104 yards on 15 carries, catching six aerials, and pass protecting as well as his predecessor, Taurean Henderson. Woods' speed and acceleration are truly impressive, as is his ability to break runs to the outside after cracking the line of scrimmage. He is a dangerous back who should rip off some very long runs in the games to come.

Grade: A

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