10. Shannon Woods running over Baylor. Shannon had 125 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, which allowed our Air Raid to flourish as the Baylor defense didn't know who to focus their attention to. As if his 125 yards rushing weren't enough, Shannon added another 48 yards receiving. Woods proved throughout the season to be a reliable all-purpose back, and filled in for the huge void left by Taurean Henderson better than we all thought that anyone could have done. Shannon gave us good production all year long, but the effort against Baylor was easily his marquee game. I'm glad to have Shannon around.
9. The DBs' coverage in the Oklahoma State game. Adarius Bowman came into the game against Tech as one of the Big 12's top wideouts, but was shut down on the day. Chris Parker had some extremely timely deflections, including the one that sealed the victory on the last play of the game. Jamar Wall had another fantastic leaping deflection late in the game. Darcel McBath's 4th quarter interception was huge, and Joe Garcia had an INT returned for a touchdown that was stolen from him. Antonio Huffman was timing his hits well, and forced a few drops. We had the OSU receivers playing scared.
8. L.A. Reed's special teams play. The coverage teams had a great season, aside from the long kickoff return at Texas A&M. Reed was the most consistent of the unit, but there were also great contributions from Blake Collier, Daniel Charbonnet, and Marlon Williams. L.A. and the other members of the unit were arguably the reason that we were able to make the comeback in the second half, with the way that they put the Cowboys in awful field positions for most of the latter part of the game. Reed showed us some of the playmaking abilities that he will hopefully bring to the receiving corps next season at X.
7. Joel Filani's domination of Baylor. Filani was in unstoppable form against Baylor, as the Bears secondary never had a chance against him. Joel put up 212 yards and three touchdowns, with an average of 26.5 yards per reception. Filani also had a 76-yard touchdown that was spectacular, perhaps only bested on the season by his TD in which he broke multiple tackles against Texas A&M. Joel proved that he can be a #1 guy, and certainly helped his NFL stock with his performance in the game against Baylor. Here's hoping that a pro team recognizes his potential and gives him a chance to shine at the next level.
6. Darcel McBath's two interceptions against UTEP. On a day in which our defensive scheme was getting killed by Johnnie Lee Higgins as linebackers struggled to cover him, we had the secondary step up and give us a chance to win the game. Darcel McBath got two turnovers in the game, but the last was the most important. Jake Ratliff deflected a Jordan Palmer pass up in the air in the Miners' first overtime possession, which Darcel was aware enough to intercept. This gave us the ball back with a chance to win the game with only a field goal, and that's exactly what we were able to do to get the victory.
5. Jarrett Hicks' big day against UT. In a season where Jarrett Hicks had to deal with so much adversity, Hicks managed to punish one of the nation's best corners in his best game of the year. As a matter of fact, they were getting so frustrated with trying to cover him that they ended up taking a cheap shot on Jarrett, which injured him for the rest of the season. Of course, it wasn't even penalized. Anyway, I hope that Jarrett's pro stock didn't suffer from being underutilized, injured, and erroneously held out of games thanks to the NCAA. If the pros just give him a long hard look, he will make a splash in the NFL.
4. The rebound at Iowa State. After the Colorado debacle, the team and fanbase were at a very low level of morale. The response was an "Air it Out" meeting that Leach held, as well as the show of support from our fanbase thanks to an ingenious idea generated on RaiderPower. I truly believe that the combination of both of these things caused us to become reinvigorated for the rest of the season. We had a road game against an Iowa State team with nothing to lose, and we pulled together and got a decisive win that set the tone for the remainder of the year. This game was the reason for our inspired effort against UT.
3. Alex Trlica's game-winning FG against UTEP. After questionable officiating negated a Robert Johnson TD for the second time of the UTEP game, we were penalized in overtime twice on that play since we thought that we had won the game. We were able to get back close enough to attempt a FG. Trlica trotted out after missing a few field goals earlier to try a 49-yarder and have his shot at redemption. The kick sailed through the air, and caromed off of the upright and fell through. We all thought they we were headed for a second overtime, but Alex came through for us and won the game.
2. Graham Harrell picking apart the UT secondary. Graham absolutely torched the UT defense for 519 yards through the air. That's a phenomenal effort no matter how you slice. We spread the ball around, and the Air Raid was playing to its potential. While we didn't win the game, partly thanks to the same questionable officials that did the UTEP game, we put out a fantastic effort and put down any notions that teams have figured out our offense. Aside from the slip on the quarterback sneak, Graham's performance in that game gave us more than enough reason to get excited to have him around for a while.
1. Robert Johnson's TDs against A&M. Johnson's three touchdown effort was amazing against A&M. Graham was able to pick on Jordan Peterson, the defensive back who had the unfortunate assignment of trying to keep Robert out of the end zone. Needless to say, Peterson failed in that game, but went on to have a good season overall. RoJo found the holes in the 4-2-5 defense that was designed specifically to stop our offense. The best moment of the regular season for me was Graham's hot route to Johnson for the game-winning TD. The throw. The catch. The A&M sadness. It was beautiful.
(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at email@example.com)