Graham played the best game I've seen out of a Tech quarterback since Sonny Cumbie's Holiday Bowl. He threw for 519 yards against one of the nation's best defenses, and the only turnover came on an apparent route miscommunication. Graham was reading the Texas defense like a book. He made them pay with the quick-hitting routes when they blitzed, and punished them for big gains when they didn't. If only he hadn't slipped on the QB sneak. No one, and I mean no one, can blame Graham for the loss. He played the type of game that left anyone who watched the game and even UT fans seriously impressed.
While we had little to no running game, I'm not sure we should have, considering that Texas' run defense is their strength. Shannon was a big reason that Graham was able to defeat the blitz. Also, his blocking was phenomenal in holding off the Texas pass rush. He did more in this game than he will get credit for, as the struggles in running the ball are arguably due to the runs being predictably timed in short-yardage situations. Woods did his job, whether the statistics will show it or not. Woods continues to be everything that we could ask out of a running back, and we have plenty more of him to come.
The AFROS are back. Jarrett Hicks had a huge day, making his spectacular return to dominant, leading-receiver form. As if that weren't enough, everyone else on the receiving corps showed up to play. Robert Johnson, Danny Amendola, Joel Filani, Eric Morris, and several other receivers had catches and filled their roles perfectly. There were one or two drops, but that is nothing to get in a twist over considering the way that they played the rest of the day. The Texas secondary looked incredibly inept with the way that our receivers were toasting them on their routes. They didn't know what to do.
Texas blitzed all day long, and only got one sack. I have never seen a better game played by our O-line. It was almost flawless. Everyone did their job, and Graham had all of the time that he needed to go through his progressions. While the running game struggled, it is tough to blame that on the offensive line considering the way that Texas stacked the box in the short-yardage situations. Our line faced one of the better pass rushing defensive teams in the nation and shut them down, giving our quarterback all day long to pick apart the Texas secondary, which is exactly what Graham was able to do.
The defensive line did about as well as we could have asked against what is widely considered the nation's best offensive line. They made several key stops in the game, even after being kept on the field for much of the second half. Still, they struggled in keeping an eye on McCoy, which cost us dearly on a few occasions. However, they did a fairly good job keeping Texas in check, and not making things easy on the Longhorns. The only time that the unit really struggled was when the offense failed to move the ball and the defensive line was forced to play tired. The loss can't really be blamed on them.
Fletcher Session was off the hook. He showed up in a big way, making a huge interception early, and recorded six tackles, one of which was a TFL. Brock Stratton was doing a good job of defending against the run, with five tackles of his own. Kellen Tillman also brought his A game, adding another five tackles. There was also some auxiliary help from Brent Slaughter with his three tackles. The Texas passing game had very little success on the shorter routes, and the running gaps were filled well enough for us to have a chance to win the game. The linebackers did their job, and did it very well.
The secondary made one key mistake, and that was to let the Texas receivers get behind the coverage for a few deep touchdowns. However, the defensive backs did a good job of run support. Joe Garcia played very well, leading the team in tackles and forcing an important fumble. Darcel McBath also was getting it done, with six tackles. Marcus Bunton did well in relief of an injured Chris Parker from a UT chop block that of course was not called. Jamar Wall was also impressive as both a nickelback and a corner. Still, the unit gave up too many big plays to allow UT to get back in the game.
The special teams were good, but not great. Amendola muffed a punt once again, but luckily recovered it. Blake Collier slightly hit a Texas player on a fair catch in the one call that went our way the entire game. Alex Reyes' punts were good, and Keith Toogood's kickoffs were fantastic. Our coverage on punts and kicks was good as well. The special teams played well enough, but yet again, failed to provide a big play that could have made the difference in the game. Still, much like the rest of the units on Saturday, it is extremely difficult to blame the loss on the play of the Special Teams.
Overall, the team played a hell of a game. The absolutely biased officiating was the only reason Texas was able to stay in the game and pull an eventual victory out of their colon. Texas fans can't see it because they didn't want to see it. Mangino had it right. In the past, I mostly just joked about the bias that UT gets from officials, and refused to fully believe that there was collusion. However, it was clear that the officials had an agenda. I will further illustrate my case and provide supporting arguments from neutral observers of the game in my the Around the Nation article tomorrow.
(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at email@example.com.)