Graham Harrell was nearly flawless in a tough road environment. Harrell played like a Senior, not a Sophomore. The kid showed some phenomenal leadership, and has ice in his veins. A lesser quarterback would have folded in the situation that Graham was put in, but Harrell stepped up and played like the champion that he is. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Harrell has an extremely bright future as a Red Raider.
Shannon Woods again had a fantastic outing, averaging 6.9 yards a carry and scoring a key touchdown late in the game. Woods has proven to be very capable of being a full-time running back, but received strong support from Baron Batch against UTEP as well. These players are doing a much better job than many expected of filling the void left by Taurean Henderson.
Joel Filani started off the day in a tough way, making an unfortunate drop on a well-thrown deep ball. However, Filani redeemed himself by making a great touchdown grab and having a dominating night for the rest of the game. Robert Johnson deserves some credit as well for having two touchdowns, both of which were unfortunately called back. I'm still angry that the officials didn't understand the difference between a chip and chop block. Regardless, the receivers did their job, and did it well.
Graham Harrell went nearly untouched despite some heavy blitzing by UTEP. Furthermore, the line opened up some great holes once again for Shannon Woods and Baron Batch to run through. Another great effort by the offensive line was a huge part of the offense's success, and if they keep up this kind of play, Graham is going to have some awfully clean jerseys at the end of every game.
The front four put a decent amount of pressure on Palmer, and forced several mistakes. Jake Ratliff especially had another big day, deflecting a pass in OT that was intercepted by McBath. Rajon Henley also had a surprisingly dominant game. The only real knock on their play was that Marcus Thomas had a better day running the football than he probably should have, but the defensive line was still the best of the defensive units.
The linebackers struggled in coverage against UTEP's wideouts, especially Johnnie Lee Higgins. That being said, it is unfair to ask an LB to cover a guy with 4.3 speed, which is what they were faced with for much of the day. Still, their coverage and tackling should have been far better than it was. However, the unit did blitz effectively in their limited chances and provided decent run support, so their effort was not a total loss.
Although the UTEP game was far from the secondary's best effort, there was the emergence of a star in Darcel McBath. Darcel has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and this awareness led to two critical interceptions. However, the unit's tackling needs to improve if they expect to contain the talented wideouts of the Big 12. Also, the coverage was not up to it's usual strength against UTEP, which hopefully was just an anomaly.
Overall, it was a decent effort by the team. The Red Raiders beat a good opponent on the road when the other team really came to play, and that is commendable. However, the Red Raiders showed some defensive weakness, which is scary for many Texas Tech fans. On the bright side, it looks like the offense has some tremendous abilities, and should put up a ton of points and yards this season. If the defense can return to playing like they did against SMU and the offense continues to dominate, the Red Raiders should be in for a great season.
(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org