Texas Tech-North Dakota: Grades

Stephen JohnsonContributor ISeptember 9, 2009

LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 08:  Wide receiver Detron Lewis #17 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders during play against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Jones AT&T Stadium on November 8, 2008 in Lubbock, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Quaterback(s): B-

Taylor Potts finished the game going 34-for-48 for 405 yards passing with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Although the interceptions raise a red flag, we must remember this was Potts' first game starting in this offense and you can't overlook the 70 percent completion rate.

His final pass, which resulted in a TD, was his best pass of the night and should hopefully give Raiders fans something to look forward to as the season unfolds.

Running Backs: C

Unfortunately, the running game never got started. It's yet to be known if it was the offensive line or if the backs had an off game. Remember: Two of the RBs were playing in their first career game, but Harrison Jeffers and Eric Stephens came in with much fanfare. Baron Batch only had one TD and 30 yards on nine carries.

Not much else got started, and the Tech backfield only finished with 48 rushing yards and 42 receiving yards. It’s difficult to give a grade to this group because not many opportunities were given, but one could expect more yards given the 19 times a RB got the ball.

Wide Receivers: A-

The WRs did everything expected of them, but there were a few dropped passes that should have been caught. Detron Lewis had the best game, getting 149 yards and one TD, but it was the redshirt freshmen who were the impressive bunch.

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Austin Zouzalik and Alexander Torres caught everything that came their way and Cornelius Douglas, save one pass, was exceptional as an inside WR.

Offensive Line: D

Pass protection was great all night long, but the run game failed to get started. This can't continue as the Big XII season gets under way. Marlon Winn had to leave the game at halftime. Although he is expected back for Rice, this hurt the line. Winn being out made line coach Matt Moore shuffle Chris Olson from left tackle to right tackle and put in redshirt freshman Terry McDaniel at left tackle.

After McDaniel had a few bad plays in a row, the line was shifted to Olson back at left tackle and Joe King to right tackle. Both moves didn't make any headway getting the run and screen game going against North Dakota.

Offense: B

There were times when the offense wasn't hitting well, though stats prove otherwise. Potts was efficient, but also careless. The run game produced a couple of big runs, but nothing consistent.

This group has work to do, but you can see the athletes Tech has and the type of game-changing ability the Raiders have at all the skill positions. It will just take time to get everyone on the same page, but the one thing Tech does not have is time. This group needs to show vast improvement for Rice because looming on Sept. 19 is Texas in Austin.

Defensive Line: A

Although only two sacks were produced by the line, constant pressure made it hard for North Dakota’s QB Jake Landry to get anything started. Colby Whitlock, Ra’jon Henley, and Daniel Howard made the most noise, getting in the backfield often to hurry the pass and stop the run.

This pressure helped make up for the lack of speed the linebackers had against the slot receivers and penalties the secondary produced on a few drives.

Linebackers: C+

This could get ugly as the season progresses. Bront Bird made a couple of nice tackles, Marlon Williams had good coverage on his guys, and Brian Duncan was always around the ball, but this group still lacks speed to compete with the WRs in the Big XII.

When it shows that you didn’t match up well with North Dakota and you still have to play Texas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State, points could be put on the board in a hurry.

This group did play smart and had no big mistakes, but they also failed to do anything great.

Secondary: C-

All but one position had brand new personnel for the season opener. At safety, Cody Davis did an excellent job in coverage and had a few nice tackles, but also drew a flag for a late hit.

Both Franklin Mitchem and LaRon Moore had their problems on their side of the field and made it an easy choice for QB Landry to choose which side to throw to most of the game. Both safeties and corners are long, rangy, athletic, and have good speed, but more should be expected out of this group as the season progresses.  

They are certainly capable of stopping some of the silly penalties and providing more help on the intermediate pass game.

Defense: B-

The defense wasn't able to cause any turnovers or get the Fighting Sioux offense out of rhythm, but it managed to stop the running game and force the Sioux into being a one-dimensional team. If the defense can correct the penalties, which one would suspect had a lot do with the adrenaline of the first game, then this was a good effort put forth.

The Tech defense should be able to put pressure on all the Big XII teams it faces, but the linebackers and secondary will need to be worked on if they want to stop six minute drives.

Special Teams: B

No blocked punts, no missed or blocked field goals, and no penalties in game one, which is a 180 degree turnaround from last year's play. Eric Russell has done a good job of getting the best athletes on the field to make plays. Nothing spectacular happened with this group, but no mistakes were present either, which is a big sigh of relief.

Russell deserves a lot of credit for getting his bunch fired up, but it remains to be seen if Zouzalik and Britton will produce in the return game. Matt Williams made all of his point after attempts and one field goal. Donnie Carona’s lone punt was muffed and allowed the Raiders to get the ball back.