Graham Harrell appears to have overcome his early season demons, as he turned in his third-straight impressive performance. He has used the whole field well, and also used more mobility in the past few games. That has been the difference. We actually ran a designed zone read today, which shocked me to no end. Even more surprising was that Harrell picked up a first down and much more on the play. Face it, Harrell-haters. Graham can run. He has a strong arm. He was the right choice for the season, even with his early struggles. Most importantly, he has a very bright future as a Texas Tech quarterback.
Shannon Woods beat Baylor in several ways. Those who know nothing about our offense or how we used Shannon against Texas tried to make a big deal out of the -1 yards rushing last week. Well, Woods showed off his skills as a safety valve and blocker last week, and was the reason that we were able to defeat Texas' blitz. However, just to quell the critics anyway, Shannon decided to dominate on the ground against Baylor, scoring two TDs. Also, Kobey Lewis played well in his time on Saturday, with one particularly heads-up play in making a reception on a batted ball to ensure that no defender made the INT.
I love Joel Filani. That is, in the totally hetero way. Joel had another Kansas State/Nebraska-esque effort in which absolutely no one could stop him. Filani had three TDs, and so many yards that I lost count. Robert Johnson and Danny Amendola played their roles well. Also, Edward Britton and Todd Walker both had impressive days out of the 2-deep. Walker was filling in for an injured Jarrett Hicks, while Britton was filling in for Filani since Joel was tired from scoring so often. The receivers are picking apart secondaries as of late and reminding the nation that the Air Raid is as dangerous as any offense.
The offensive line once again provided Graham with some solid protection, but what was more impressive was the holes that they opened up for Shannon Woods on Saturday. I think Mark Mangino could have run through those holes. And by run, I mean take two steps, fall down, and roll for the touchdown with super-spherical powers. Which, uh, somehow creates sustaining inertia. It totally works; I saw Sonic the Hedgehog do it. Anyway, the offensive line had another impressive performance, and made things easy on Graham and the rest of the team with their effort. Well done, once again. Shout out to the 78 Posse.
The Baylor offensive line was completely dominated by our big men on the defensive line. Richard Jones, Dan'Tay Ward, Keyunta Dawson, Dek Bake, Brandon Williams, Chris Hudler, and several others just played a phenomenal game. There were times where we only rushed three people and still got pressure. The play of our defensive line made things very tough on green quarterback Blake Szymanski, even with Blake's speed and quickness. Szymanski had little time to do much of anything with the football, as our D-line turned in one of the best performances I have seen from the Red Raiders in a long time.
The linebackers did their job, but weren't making many truly big plays. As a matter of fact, the only play that I can recall off the top of my head that the linebacker corps made was Paul Williams flying in on a blitz for a good sack. Still, the linebackers must have been doing a good job in coverage, since Baylor struggled with the midrange passing game all day long on Saturday. Furthermore, the defensive line was playing so well that the linebackers didn't have much of a chance to make the plays. Therefore, in retrospect, the linebackers didn't play a great or poor game overall against the Baylor Bears.
Chris Parker started out the game in a bit of a struggle as he was beat deep for an early touchdown, but redeemed himself admirably. He had a fantastic pass deflection, and a few nice tackles that made a big difference. Also, as a unit, the defensive backs did a better job of providing coverage on the homerun passes, as Joe Garcia had a good interception to deter Baylor from continuing to try and go to the long ball. Antonio Huffman had a nice forced fumble on a receiver who was trying to fight for extra yards as well. The defensive backs did a solid job of turning the Baylor offense one-dimensional.
Amendola stepped up his game as a punt returner, which was nice to see. Danny made some good fair catch decisions as well, and provided a nice spark to keep our offense going. Keith Toogood's kickoffs weren't quite as deep as usual, but one of them was hindered by penalties. The offsides was disappointing, but happens when you have the gunners excited enough to want to get down the field. The kickoff and punt coverage teams did a good job of preventing big returns. The special teams stayed mostly mistake-free, and put our team in good enough shape to take the lead and keep it.
Overall, the team had another good game, and avoided a potential letdown game against an improved Baylor team. The team is finally playing to their potential, and looks very capable of finishing out the season strong. Harrell appears to be nearly through his growing pains, and the offense finally seems to be on the same page. Additionally, the offense and the defense are helping each other out more, and we are playing as a team once again. If we continue to play at this level, we have a very realistic chance of winning the rest of our games and getting to a good bowl game after all.
(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)