Taking Stock: Who's Up, Who's Down

This is the seventh in a series of post-game reports throughout the season that will evaluate players, positions, units, coaches, and any other thing that is worthy of scrutiny. No, it’s not your typical player X did well, so his stock is up. We will touch on some of those, but we want to provide a closer look at some of the less obvious and explain why the subject received a certain grade. Check back each week for the latest report. You might be surprised.

Stock Up

Vince Young -- Well, well, well. How things can change in a 60-minute game. All those who had given Young up for dead over the past two weeks and suggested ludicrous things such as moving him to wide receiver, including this writer, are eating a little crow this week. Young must be given his due. After two sub, sub-par performances against Oklahoma and Missouri, the sophomore quarterback put together what is easily his best performance of the year and one of, if not his best ever in the Orange and White. He did it by air and by feet. With his arm, his biggest liability in recent weeks, Young was superb. He missed a few open targets but that was an exception rather than the rule as he showed a deft touch to his tight ends again and also connected on several vertical passes -- a very encouraging sign to say the least. For the game he was more than efficient completing 10 of 15 passes for 142 yards and one touchdown. With his feet Young gained 158 yards on 25 carries running the option to perfection and weaving and darting through traffic on numerous quarterback draws. Oh yeah, he ran for a more-than-impressive four touchdowns. How's that for a stick it in your face!

Greg Davis -- Speaking of giving credit where it's due, Davis FINALLY showed some new wrinkles. I hate to harp and say it's two weeks too late, but I guess it's better late than never. Davis went creative on Tech as he called lead option plays that took advantage of the team's strong inside running game, tried several screens albeit unsuccessfully, and opened it up for his running quarterback with counters and draws, which let Vince Young use his feet to go crazy on the Tech defense. Davis even got the tight ends back in the mix getting the ball to Bo Scaife and David Thomas six times for 45 yards and one TD by Thomas. All the imaginative playcalling paid off obviously with the 51 points on the board at the end, but more impressively was the fact that Texas scored on nine of its last 10 possessions. And these weren't Texas Tech, quick-strike possessions. These were grind-it-out, eat-up-the clock for almost half a quarter possessions. In a game where time of possession was key for the simple purpose of keeping the Tech offense off the field, Davis concocted a brilliant gameplan to do just that. This was one of if not the best called game by Davis since his arrival at Texas and he deserves kudos for it. (Applause!)

Secondary -- The secondary of any team should be like a good officiating crew of any sport -- they should essentially be invisible. If you ever see the names of players from the secondary featured prominently in the news, generally it's one of two things, and both are bad. They either gave up multiple big pass plays including some that resulted in touchdowns or they led the team in tackles, which is also bad because that means the opponent is getting through the first two layers of the defense. Against Texas Tech, all bets are off. With an offense that throws 90-plus percent of the time, your secondary is likely going to have a lot of tackles and allow some big plays. You just hope you can minimize the damage. For the Texas secondary in Lubbock, that's exactly what happened. Michael Griffin tied with linebacker Aaron Harris to lead the team with eight tackles. Cedric Griffin was next in line with four. Most importantly though, the Longhorn secondary kept everything in front of them and only surrendered a couple long runs after the catch for the entire game. It sounds odd to say that a secondary had a good performance when they gave up 403 yards passing, but when you consider that 176 of that came in the fourth quarter when the game was completely out of reach, that's precisely what happened on the South Plains Saturday night.

Cedric Benson - He's baaaaack. After a two-week hiatus, at least from the "Stock Up" category, Benson made his way back with his most durable performance of the season. The senior running back truly earned the title of workhorse in Lubbock against the Red Raiders toting the ball an impressive 38 times for 168 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers alone are worthy of the "Stock Up" rating. But the one number that really sticks out this week for Benson is zero, as in zero fumbles. After the previous three games where he had seven fumbles, putting one on the carpet in 38 attempts would be quite plausible. He didn't.

Greg Robinson - Robinson said after the game that Texas Tech quarterback Sonny Cumbie was "really rattled" by the Texas defense. That's putting it nicely. Cumbie was totally discombobulated as Robinson threw more looks at him than a Hollywood plastic surgeon's clients. The Horns showed blitz quite often but more often than not dropped back into coverage to fill the passing lanes and keep everything in front of them. When they did opt to put pressure on Cumbie, it worked to perfection. For the game the Texas defense was credited with a couple of sacks and most importantly, 11 quarterback hurries. Translation: Cumbie was confused throughout the game, never got into a rhythm and didn't throw a touchdown pass until his team was down 48-14.

Stock Down

After a performance like the one Saturday night against Tech, it is of this writer's opinion that none of the Horns are worthy of individual "Stock Down" ratings for this week's column. Sure, there was David Pino and the missed 50-yard field goal attempt, and Aaron Ross and a pair of penalties, one for grabbing the facemask and another for pass interference, and even Tony Hills for a couple of false starts on back-to-back plays late in the fourth. In hindsight, however, after such an overall dominant performance, these three players did not commit any major mistakes on a repeated basis that were costly and worthy of a separate mention.

So this week, since Texas was so dominant, we'll touch on the Red Raiders whose coaches, players and fans did more than enough to earn a combined "Stock Down" rating for the game.

Here are the high/lowlights:

-- Texas Tech Head Coach Mike Leach got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on him after arguing an intentional grounding call.

-- Tech defensive end Deke Bake earned a 15-yarder of his own for the obvious chop block that injured Texas' Will Allen.

-- And last but certainly not least, a large portion of the school-record crowd of 55,413 at SBC Jones Stadium headed for the exits mid-way through the third quarter. I guess the booming Lubbock nightlife called.

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