It is a mighty irony that Texas Tech played its worst game of the year in its lone loss to date. To a large degree, the Red Raiders stepped up their level of play in accordance with the competition, but simply fell five points short. Consequently, the report card is a bit sunnier than one would normally expect following a loss.
Quarterback: Seth Doege continues to have a superlative season. He threw 66 passes—which was probably a bit much for Tommy Tuberville's liking—and whenever you throw that often there are going to be some errant offerings. But there weren't many from Doege. His receivers, however, let him down by dropping several strikes, including a couple that could have been touchdowns. Despite the tribulations, Doege kept his team in contact with the Aggies till the bitter end.
Running Backs: What a crying shame. Eric Stephens was getting stronger as the game wore on, and was punishing the Aggie defense with his customary tough running when he was cut down on a late hit by Damontre Moore. Despite exiting in the third quarter Stephens became the first back to rush for 100 yards against the Aggies this year. Backup Aaron Crawford rushed seven times for 22 yards. He has a very tough act to follow.
Wide Receivers: Alex Torres had a colossal night after returning to the outside for the Texas A&M game. The spectacular grabs on fades and other sideline routes reminded one of the Alex Torres of old. Tight end Adam James emerged from the shadows with four big catches including a touchdown, while Eric Ward and Jacoby Franks were also productive. There were several drops, however, and a few incorrect routes. As an aside, Tech needs to get the ball into Bradley Marquez's hands more often. He looks very dangerous.
Offensive Line: All in all, the offensive line played pretty doggone well. Seth Doege was sacked three times by the sackingest defense in the land, but when you drop back 69 times that's going to happen. And at least one of those traps was Doege's fault for holding onto the ball too long. Furthermore, when you consider that the Aggies blitzed darn near every down and the Red Raiders protected with only five players much of the game, three sacks is borderline miraculous. Run blocking was quite good against a pretty stout defensive line.
Defensive Line: Defensive ends Dartwan Bush and Leon Mackey were active enough, while Scott Smith returned in style, recording four tackles, two for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. He is an absolute difference-maker. Jackson Richards continues to bite on the dive fake and lose containment. The defensive tackles did little of note other than get uprooted and shoved aside for Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray. One wonders why Chris Knighton, who received well-deserved coaching praise in the spring and fall, has disappeared.
Linebackers: Cqulin Hubert continues to be a disruptive force. He tallied five tackles including two for loss. Sam Egauvoen started the game but was not heard from all night. Blake Dees and Daniel Cobb were makeweights, although Cobb's night began promisingly when he recorded a tackle for loss on Texas A&M's first series. Tech's defensive tackles didn't do the linebackers any favors in this contest.
Secondary: This may have been the secondary's best performance of the season. Even though Jeff Fuller exited the game early with a concussion, the Aggies still boasted a talented fleet of receivers, and Tech's defensive backs kept them in check. D. J. Johnson, who recorded three pass breakups, is quietly becoming Tech's Defensive MVP. Terrance Bullitt continues to come on, and Derrick Mays, Eugene Neboh and Jarvis Phillips covered quite well. An interception or two would have been sweet frosting for the cake.
Special Teams: Donnie Carona may have had his best game as a Red Raider, connecting on four field goals, two of which were from 49 and 50 yards respectively. Unfortunately, the blocked field goal returned for a touchdown mars the special teams performance. But Carona shouldn't have been attempting that field goal anyway. Bad things happen when you go to the well too often. Another positive was Ben McRoy, who averaged 34 yards per kickoff return. It won't be long until teams refuse to kick to him.