First, I want to make sure everybody is clear about this one point - Texas A&M won the game. Reading the boards it appears some posters are a little confused with that fact. "But Hop, but Hop it's just Tech and we only won by 5".
Name the last coach to have a winning record in Lubbock:
That's right, you have to go back to Emory Bellard in the 1970's to find an A&M coach with a winning record in Lubbock and he was 2-1.
Here's another interesting fact. MIke Sherman will end the series with Texas Tech being undefeated in Lubbock. When was the last time a Texas A&M coach finished his career at Texas A&M never losing in Lubbock?
Homer Norton who finished 1-0 against Texas Tech in Lubbock in the 1940's. In those days, A&M and Tech usually played in San Antonio.
I know it's hard to understand, but the Aggies have historically had problems in Lubbock. It is a rivalry game for their fans. It's the same reason why two horrid Dennis Franchione-coached teams could beat double digit win Texas teams two years in a row.
Here's the deal. Yes, this team has issues. The team should be 5-0. But at some point, you need to be objective and look at the game at face value. The book makers opened this game at -6.5 points and the line moved to 9. Granted, the last TD by Tech was disconcerting but the team had a two-score cushion with under a minute. The national media can say A&M held on for the win, but after holding Tech on fourth down with three minutes to go, they were in no jeopardy of losing that game.
Hop's Final Report Card
After rewatching the game a second time, here are my final grades for the Tech game.
Defensive Line C+
For the most part, the defensive line did a solid job, although it took blitzing linebackers to get pressure on the QB. Tony Jerod-Eddie had a critical sack and fumble late in the game.
The linebackers are starting to come around, but they aren't there yet. I see improvement from Jonathan Stewart and I think Steven Jenkins has a very high ceiling with his explosiveness. Sean Porter has become the playmaker on this unit, but there are major issues at the joker spot.
Defensive Back C-
The corners get a bad rap in this defense, and they got hosed by the referees with some of those pass interference calls. Howard Matthews made some great plays pressuring the QB, but he struggled in coverage. Still having the occasional breakdown that allows a big yardage play. That needs to get cleaned up.
OVERALL DEFENSIVE GRADE C-
While Ryan Tannehill didn't put up monster numbers, he did many of the little things to win from some successful zone read decisions to knocking the Tech defender silly while going for the end zone to jumping in the middle of two Texas Tech defensive linemen and come away with the fumbled ball that saved an early field goal make on the next play.
Running Back B+
It should tell you where A&M's rush offense is at these days when a 200+ yard performance is consider just okay. The Texas A&M run game is much more effective with quicker hitting plays with the ball carrier running downhill. On several occasions, the slow-developing zone red play lost 3-4 yards and put the offense in a difficult down-and-distance situation. I was expecting 275-300 yards, so the ground game wasn't quite as effective as I thought it would be.
Wide Receiver C
Uzoma Nwachukwu continues to play with more confidence each week, and he found a deep seam down the sideline on the first series of the game and then made a spectacular catch to move the chains on a big third down pass. But Ryan Swope continues to struggle since his big hit in the OSU game dropping two more passes. With Jeff Fuller still battling injury and limited, the Aggie offense desperately needs a threat on the outside.
Tight End A-
Michael Lamothe had the big play of the day with that second and third effort touchdown, and he has become a trusted weapon both in blocking and as a weapon at receiver. Nehemiah Hicks is starting to become a favorite target of Tannehill's but he's still a little inconsistent in blocking. Hutson Prioleau whiffed on a critical block on a bubble screen and that must be his strength.
Offensive Line B+
The Tech front seven sold-out to stop the run and still gave up 200+ yards. However, compared to last week's 381 yard effort against Arkansas, the offensive line had a more difficult time opening up running lanes for Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray. Ryan Tannehill had to perform a little magic on a few occasions in the pocket to escape a moderate Red Raider pass rush, but for the most part he had time to throw. Jarvis Harrison made a few mistakes, but for the most part showed that he'll be a mainstay in this offensive line next year and beyond. Patrick Lewis had a few struggles for the second straight week, but overall the unit was effective as expected.
OVERALL OFFENSIVE GRADE B+
Special Teams B-
Many fans will focus on the three kickoff returns that went near midfield each time. However, fans can't overlook that the second half went A&M's way in great part to the blocked field goal and return for a touchdown that gave A&M a 15 point lead in the fourth quarter. You can't discount that play. Also, Ryan Epperson dropped a couple of punts inside the 15 yard line including one inside the 5 yard-line, and Randy Bullock knocked a 40+ yard field goal right through the uprights. That deserves plenty of credit.
Hop's Final Report Card - Texas Tech
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