Texas Tech's report card resembles that of the brilliant but debauched frat boy who parties and plays around the first half of the semester, but buckles down and gets serious when the possibility of scholastic probation becomes imminent. At halftime the Red Raiders were verily on the verge of flunking out, but rallied to bring their GPA up to respectable levels.
Quarterback: Seth Doege served notice that the quarterback position will be in good hands indeed. Starting a football game for only the second time since his sophomore year in high school, Doege connected on 23 of 33 passes for 326 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Like the team in general, Doege was unable to find a rhythm in the first half, but eventually found his stride. In the second half he was 12 of 18 for 214 yards and two scores. Clearly, Doege began to find his range downfield in the second half and that is when Tech's offense began clicking. And no interceptions on the night was huge.
Running Backs: Eric Stephens may have had his best game as a Red Raider, stepping for 118 yards and a pair of touchdowns while averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Stephens still dances in the hole too much and occasionally shies from contact rather than lowering the shoulder, but if the line gives him a crease he will slash any defense badly. Freshman DeAndre Washington had an impressive debut, averaging 6.3 yards per carry and ringing the touchdown bell from 23 yards on what was the best run of the game. Washington's ball security did look a bit shaky, however. Aaron Crawford left the game early with an injury, casting further doubt over whether he can be a reliable option in the backfield.
Receivers: Darrin Moore wasted no time in throwing his own coming out party. In what was possible the single most impressive performance by a Tech receiver since the days of Michael Crabtree, Moore latched onto 12 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown. Were it not for a fumble, Moore's outing would have been perfect. As good as Moore was, we should not overlook Alex Torres who caught four balls for 58 yards and looks like he will make an excellent complement to Moore. Freshman Bradley Marquez caught a touchdown and served notice that he needs to be on the field, particularly in light of the modest productivity from receivers on the left side of the field. I do not recall a dropped pass by any receiver.
Offensive Line: Terry McDaniel, Lonnie Edwards and LaAdrian Waddle were outstanding. Deveric Gallington and Mickey Okafor less so. McDaniel, playing his first game at center, was flawless with his snaps and superb with his blocking. He and Edwards blasted many a hole for Eric Stephens and DeAndre Washington. Waddle absolutely silenced any would-be pass rush on the left side. The line did surrender two sacks, with Okafor getting beaten badly on a speed rush and allowing Doege to get crunched. That is not acceptable.
Defensive Line: Grading the defensive front six is difficult because Texas State rolled out an offensive scheme that caught the young Red Raiders, themselves learning a new scheme, totally off guard. And to be confronted by an option attack when you haven't prepared for it, is a defense's nightmare. That is an explanation for Texas State's 256 rushing yards, but it is not an excuse. At the end of the day, Texas Tech should not allow Texas State to go hawg wild on the ground. Still, there were some bright spots. Dartwan Bush had an excellent game and Kindred Evans made an impact despite playing only a handful of snaps. Leon Mackey was active before leaving the game with a chest bruise, and fellow JUCO transfer Dennell Wesley showed promise. The Red Raiders didn't blitz much, but still generated a respectable pass rush, too.
Linebackers: True freshman Blake Dees was as good as his press, recording eight tackles, forcing a fumble, recovering a fumble and logging the biggest hit of the evening on an unsuspecting Texas State ball carrier. Dees will be special. Cqulin Hubert, however, was not a factor and wound up splitting time with another true freshman, Sam Equavoen, who tallied three tackles. Ultimately, however, the linebacker corps shares in the responsibility for Texas State's big night on the ground.
Secondary: Owing to their success with the option attack, Texas State didn't test the Tech secondary very much. The Bobcats threw the ball only 21 times, completing 10, and gaining only 75 yards through the air. Tech's coverage was basically good, and tightened up as the game went along. D. J. Johnson led the Red Raiders with nine tackles, while Brett Dewhurst did a fine job after replacing the injured Cody Davis early in the game. Tre' Porter looked solid on the corner.
Special Teams: Punter Ryan Erxleben was arguably Tech's MVP in the first half. His punts were high and deep, and backed the Bobcats up until the Tech offense finally got untracked. Erxleben also dealt effectively with the extreme wind conditions, driving the ball low and making the best of a bad situation. Donnie Carona's kickoffs were fine, and while kick coverage looked shaky a time or two, it was sufficient. Sawyer Vest had an excellent open-field hit in punt coverage.