Graham Harrell rebounded well this week after what was undoubtedly one of the worst games of his career against Nevada.
Harrell threw 5 touchdown passes and no interceptions, something that Texas Tech fans have become accustomed to, but his deep throws continue to come up short and on more than one occasion Michael Crabtree had to come back to the football to catch it or prevent SMU from intercepting it.
Harrell did a nice job of staying calm in the pocket and distributed the ball well. He also did a good job of not throwing into double coverage or making poor decisions, though he was sacked and lost the football at one point during the game.
Taylor Potts saw the field briefly during the game and looked very good, better than he had throughout 2008's Spring and Fall Practice. Potts showed off a lightning quick release and threw a beautiful pass to Rashad Hawk, one that words fail to describe it's beauty as it zipped into the red-shirt freshman's hands.
Harrell improved from his spotty performance eight days ago, but he'll need to continue his improvement to get to the level needed if the Raiders want to contend for a Big XII South title.
Running Backs : A+
Baron Batch and Shannon Woods had themselves a brilliant night running the football and the old saying that "Competition breeds excellence" was once again proven correct. Aaron Crawford did not play and is resting a minor injury, though there was absolutely no drop-off in production with his absence.
Baron Batch, who has had more surgeries than he or anyone else would like to recall, was absolutely brilliant all night long and actually had 100 yards rushing before taking a two yard loss at the end of the game. Batch scored on a 43-yard touchdown run, longer than any touchdown run during the 2007 season, and he easily outran the SMU defense to the end zone.
Shannon Woods, apparently driven on by the strong performance that Batch put on, was brilliant himself and while he was out-rushed by Batch, he had one of the most impressive catches and broken-tackle runs imaginable.
Batch and Woods might not be classified as great friends, but they are tremendous compliments to each other on the field and have been one of the almost Super-Nova like bright spots for the Raider offense in the first three weeks of play.
Wide Receivers : B
Redemption, though not total for the Tech receivers. While Michael Crabtree had a big day and Detron Lewis scored on a 40+ yard touchdown catch and run, he also dropped a pass that was wide open during the early going in the game. Crabtree also had some issues with dropped passes, most dramatically dropping a wide-open touchdown on a stop fade as time expired in the second quarter.
A quiet night for Eric Morris and Ed Britton, though Britton notched his second fade-route touchdown of the year. Rashad Hawk showed flashes of potential that could lead him into a leading role for the Tech offense in years to come. Tramain Swindall had a somewhat quiet night, though he may have the best hands of anyone on the team.
Offensive Line : B+
The theme of the week for the Tech offense was redemption and while the offensive line did give up a sack to the SMU Mustangs, they also blocked for 184 yards rushing for Woods and Batch.
Louis Vasquez returned to the starting line-up and avoided missing back-to-back starts, the last time that happened in 2006 against South Eastern Louisiana and Texas A&M. Rylan Reed played well at left tackle, though still looks to be recovering from the horrendous broken leg that he suffered in the Gator Bowl.
Chris Olson blocked well in relief of Rylan Reed and looks to be improving week-to-week after finally settling in at left tackle. Lonnie Edwards also came onto the field late in the game as Potts was leading the offense, and looked good in limited action.
Overall Offensive Grade : B+ (89.75)
The Red Raiders had a strong day offensively, even though there were minor miscues at times.
Baron Batch and Shannon Woods continue to excel rushing the football while penalties came down dramatically with only 8 penalties for 61 yards.
Graham Harrell will need to continue settling down and returning to his old forum while offensive linemen Rylan Reed and Louis Vasquez will have to get healthy before traveling to Kansas State on October 4th.
Michael Crabtree looked to have returned to the form that he had during the 2007 season and scored three touchdowns for the first time since playing Iowa State in Week 6 last year. Detron Lewis flashed speed, though slight inconsistency.
Overall, it's the first time this season that the Air Raid offense has looked like itself, though with more of a ground component than previous years.