Quarterback: Were it not for two crushing plays—a fumble and an interception—Webb would have played something like a B+ game. He certainly did some good things. Like not preventing DeAndre Washington from carrying the ball 20-plus times. And like a beautiful fade to Ian Sadler for a touchdown. Unfortunately, however, the turnovers and the occasional misfire on what should be routine slants and outs take much of the shine off of his performance.
Running Backs: DeAndre Washington continues to improve, and, consciously or not, the Tech offense is becoming Washington’s offense. He carried the ball 23 times (a very large sum by Air Raid standards) against Kansas and gained 164 yards, the most by a Tech back since 2004 when Taurean Henderson had 169 against Kansas. Washington added more explosion to his game with a 34-yard run, and might have had one longer than that if Jakeem Grant hadn’t tripped him up. Justin Stockton blew through a small crease en route to a 21-yard touchdown as well. At this point there is no doubt that Tech’s offense runs better than it passes, and we haven’t seen that since the days of Spike Dykes.
Receivers: Despite leading the team with six receptions for 72 yards, Jakeem Grant had a rough game. He was dinged on at least a couple of occasions, and dropped three passes. Not a career day then. Ian Sadler had a breakout game of sorts, hauling in four passes for 68 yards and a touchdown, but also dropped a pass on what would have been a big gainer. Everybody else, including Bradley Marquez, had a solid day. He caught six passes for 70 yards and a touchdown.
Offensive Line: This group dominated most of the day. Except for a couple of penalties and the one sack allowed by Reshod Fortenberry (one could argue it was a coverage sack), there is no ground for complaint. The interior of the line blocked especially well, and Baylen Brown had a good game, even getting down field for a nice cut block on a bubble screen. The line gave Davis Webb more than enough time to scan the field and go through his progressions.
Defensive Line: The Jayhawks had sporadic success running the football in the first half, but as the game progressed, the defensive line helped clamp that off. Ultimately, KU averaged only 3.2 yards per carry. Rika Levy and Keland McElrath combined for a sack, but most of the pressure on Kansas’ quarterbacks came from the linebackers. Branden Jackson had one monster play, forcing and recovering a fumble. For the second straight game, Mike Smith went small, starting Jackson, Andre Ross and Jackson Richards. All in all, it was a good day for this group.
Linebackers: Tech’s top four tacklers were linebackers Austin Stewart (9), Pete Robertson (9), Sam Eguavoen (6), and V.J. Fehoko (6). Stewart has quietly emerged as a very solid contributor to this defense, so much so that Kenny Williams is back on offense. And Fehoko had his second straight solid game, although he blew a coverage that allowed Jimmay Mundine to score a touchdown. But the story, of course, is Robertson. He bedeviled Kansas, recording a pair of sacks, a forced fumble, and two quarterback hurries, in addition to his nine hits. At this point Robertson is solidifying his All Big 12 credentials.
Secondary: Considering they played without their leader Keenon Ward, the defensive backs held up okay. The cornerbacks lost some battles (Nigel Bethel surrendering a touchdown, for instance), but they won some, too. Justis Nelson actually had one of his better days, and J.J. Gaines played possibly his best game of the season with five tackles, half a tackle for loss, an interception and two pass breakups. He tackled well, too. New starter Jalen Barnes missed a couple of tackles, but didn't blow any coverage’s and acquitted himself credibly. Still, when Kansas’ quarterback completes 20 of 32 passes for 235 yards, there is significant room for improvement.
Special Teams: Ryan Bustin connected on a pair of field goals and is now on a bit of a hot streak. Taylor Symmank had one subpar punt, but otherwise was tremendous. Tech’s coverage of kickoffs and punts was fine, as was Tech’s own kickoff return game. But the Red Raiders got absolutely nothing from punt returner Cameron Batson, and that is largely because a penalty negated a very good return by him. And another flag nullified a Symmank punt that was downed at the one. Whereas the offense and defense did well regarding penalties, the special teams continue to struggle in this area.