Season Grades

2008 was a season that of firsts for Texas Tech, as they knocked off a #1 team for the first time in school history and won a share of the Big 12 South Title. Despite showing the nation they're a force to be reckoned with, Tech fans were left with a bitter taste in the mouths, as the Red Raiders limped to the finish, dropping 2 of their last 3. Football analyst Mitchell Fish grades Tech's season.


While Graham Harrell's senior season will forever be remembered for what could have been, he did have one of the best seasons in Texas Tech history.

Becoming the first play in NCAA history to ever have consecutive 5,000 yard season, breaking the NCAA career passing touchdown record, and finishing 4th in the Heisman trophy balloting are all tremendous accomplishments.

While Harrell struggled greatly down the stretch, he was "Iceman" in many games throughout the year and led what is arguably the greatest single drive in Tech history.

Replacing Harrell will not be an easy task, but as with every talented signal caller that has graduated and moved on, it will be done at some point.

Grade: A-

Running Backs

The redemption of Shannon Woods and the emergence of Baron Batch may have been the single biggest factor to the Red Raiders' offensive success this season. Rushing for more than 1,400 yards is quite an accomplishment for any offense, especially one that is as pass happy as Tech's.

Woods heads into the uncertain process that is the National Football League and life beyond college football while Baron Batch will have the opportunity to be "the guy" during the 2009 season and will be supported by the likes of Aaron Crawford and Harrison Jeffers.

Grade: A

Offensive Line

A unit that started the season with such precision and exacting perfection in their profession finished it much as an explosive fuse would attempt to burn through a puddle of water.

While Rylan Reed, Louis Vasquez, Stephen Hamby, Brandon Carter, and Marlon Winn will go down as one of the best offensive lines in Texas Tech history (and rightfully so), they will be also be remembered for their sporadic play during the last 3 games of the season.

Grade: A (First 10 games), C- (Last 3 games)

Wide Receivers

Things returned more to normal, at least as far as distribution of yards were concerned, for Mike Leach's Air Raid Offense. While Michael Crabtree once again had a huge number of touchdowns, he was surrounded by a more complete group than during his breakout freshman season.

Edward Britton emerged as a more consistent threat opposite Crabtree at the X position while first-year starter Detron Lewis showed flashes of Michael Crabtree-esque playmaking ability mixed with raw speed. Eric Morris continued to be extremely reliable and was nearly impossible to cover from the slot.

Others like Adam James, Tramain Swindall, Jacoby Franks, and Rashad Hawk showed serious playmaking-ability.

Grade: A

Defensive Line

There is no doubt that Tech's defensive line were a major factor in the Raiders' 10-0 start. While the Raiders suffered from an injury to Rajon Henley during the Kansas State game, they got solid play from newcomers Chris Perry, Brandon Sesay along with Richard Jones, who started to come into his own.

However, as the season wore on the Texas Tech's depth at defensive line began to waver, and in the Oklahoma game the line was never able to truly regain the way that they played early in the season.

Colby Whitlock, who was nearly unblockable against Texas and Oklahoma State, was marginalized during the last 3 games of the season, and while Brandon Williams had a good game against Baylor and did a more than serviceable job against Ole Miss, he was not joined by many of his fellow defenders.

Grade: B+ (First 10 Games), D+ (Final 3 games)


Marlon Williams, Brian Duncan, and Bront Bird were an athletic linebacker corps that gave the Red Raider defense a sense of legitimacy throughout much of the season. Marlon Williams was on what seemed to be a personal vendetta during the UT game, while Duncan was had the first and last interception at Jones AT&T stadium in 2008.

Bront Bird perhaps left some people scratching their heads, not because of his poor play, but because he was routinely pulled off of the field on 2nd and 3rd down as the Raiders brought on their Jet package.

Unfortunately, there was little depth behind these three starters. While Victor Hunter is a tremendous defender in short-yardage situations, he is often left exposed by the pass. Julius Howard was the swing left and right outside linebacker but didn't see the field very often during defensive situations.

Heralded youngsters Tyrone Sonier and Sam Fehoko rarely saw the field in 2008, though that can mostly be attributed to the youth of those ahead of them on the depth chart and the second is their own youth.

Grade: B


One of the truly great stories of the 2008 Texas Tech football team was that of Daniel Charbonnet, the transfer from Duke who redshirted during the 2005 season and played sparingly in 2006 before become a large part of the 2007 defense and a starter in 2008.

Charbonnet was never the biggest or fastest player on the Raiders' defense, but he did a brilliant job of playing to his strengths, including returning a Colt McCoy interception for a touchdown in the huge upset against UT.

Darcel McBath had a strong year playing free safety and most likely earned himself a late round draft pick in the NFL. While lacking ideal size to play safety at the NFL level, McBath could be one of the valuable versatile players in the NFL that can play multiple positions in the defensive secondary.

After appearing to be a near shutdown corner as his sophomore year came to an end, Jamar Wall had a tough junior season. He was beaten early in the season and then suffered with a foot injury for the latter part of the Big XII schedule. After a month off to rest, Wall would then injure his hamstring in the Cotton Bowl.

Unfortunately, the L.A. Reed experiment that had such promise early in Fall 2008 practice ended up as little more than hopes and dreams. After Reed was injured during a non-contact drill in practice, it took him until late in the non-conference schedule before he was even able to see the field. Reed then battled several nagging injures throughout the year and was inactive for the Cotton bowl with an injured arm.

Reed's one great game was playing heads up with Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State and covering him better than most corners in the Big XII.

Brent Nickerson showed flashes of potential during the 2008 season, but lack make-up speed if he is beaten, meaning he typically played "off" coverage to make up for his foot speed. LaRon Moore also saw time at right corner but was unable to impress the defensive coaches enough and stay on the field.

Grade: Safeties- B+, Corners- B


Texas Tech's season may very well have been saved by "Lynnwood," aka Matt  Williams, the sophomore kicker that came out of the stands to take over the extra-point duties after freshman Donnie Carona had serious issues with that responsibility.

Williams finished the season perfect in extra-points while Carona did not attempt another after Williams assumed the job.

The field goal kicking situation was not nearly as successful, with the Red Raiders' only scoring on 53% of their field goal attmepts. Williams eappears to be solid for short field goals, but Carona was much too inconsistent from 40 yards or longer to be relied upon.

Grade: B-

Season Review

A season that should be remembered by wins over #1 Texas and top 10 Oklahoma State will be tainted by the memories of a blowout loss to Oklahoma and a sound beating from Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl.

While Tech fans may be disappointed in the ending to the season, the 2008 Raiders did many things that no one thought they were capable of doing.

2009 will be a year to see if the Red Raiders can build off of the progress made in 2008 and remain among the elite programs in college football.

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