When pressed in the press conference as to whether or not Texas Tech can play much better than they did against West Virginia, the coaches hemmed and hawed and basically beat around the bush. The upshot of this question-begging was that the Red Raiders came close to maxing it out against the Mountaineers. There are certainly small improvements to be made here and there, but essentially, the Red Raiders were hitting on every cylinder.
Quarterbacks: The ever-volatile Seth Doege bounced back from one of his worst games with quite possibly his best game. Yes, Doege did throw an interception, but that one was entirely on Alex Torres as Torres would be the first to admit. He threw two other passes that could have been picked, but hey, Tech had four chances to intercept Geno Smith and didn't get it done. Bottom line, Doege was laser accurate, comfortable and in command. The corner pass to Eric Ward for the touchdown was suitable for the Louvre. And his timely scrambles helped the Red Raider get untracked early.
Running Backs: With the exception of SaDale Foster's spectacular 53-yard touchdown streak (allusion intended), Tech's backs had a fairly pedestrian day. Kenny Williams ran tough as is his wont, and Foster, Williams and Eric Stephens were excellent in pass protection. Foster did drop one pass.
Receivers: Outside of Torres bobbling a perfect pass, which led to Doege's lone interception, there were no egregious errors from this group. And considering that the receivers were down two players (Javon Bell and Bradley Marquez), and that Jace Amaro played the second half with busted ribs, the performance was unbelievably good. Downfield blocking has never been better at Tech. Ever. Darrin Moore had a very big day and Amaro showed why he will be an obscenely rich man in the near future.
Offensive Line: Beau Carpenter allowed the only sack of the game for either team, but it was really a coverage sack. Doege should have unloaded the pill. Outside of that partial miscue, pass protection was absolutely stellar. The Mountaineers, who blitzed more than a little, could do nothing to disturb Doege. The line gave him a very clean pocket. It was a physical performance from the boys up front, who pretty much abused WVU's front seven in the passing game. Run blocking was only sporadically good.
Defensive Line: The Red Raiders never sacked Geno Smith, but they did manage to pester him quite a bit and didn't have to bring extra rushers to do it. Kerry Hyder was his usual disruptive self, and Dennell Wesley also made his presence felt. The Mountaineers had to hold Dartwan Bush to keep him away from Smith; unfortunately, the officials seemed not to notice. Run stop was very good in the first half, but deteriorated a bit in the second. Both Bush and Jackson Richards got walled off occasionally on off tackle rushing plays.
Linebackers: Tech's defensive gameplan was to stop the run first, and toward that end, Blake Dees started for Will Smith. The run-stuffer from Alabama did the job with five stops. West Virginia's receivers occasionally found the seam behind the linebackers and in front of the safeties, but resulting damage was minimal.
Secondary: Even without Cornelius Douglas, this was the best unit on the field for either team. Cody Davis, who had 13 tackles and two pass breakups, played like an All American. Not since Dwayne Slay's single-handed destruction of the Kansas State offense back in 2005 have we seen a Tech safety dominate like this. Davis' open field tackling saved Tech dozens of yards and possibly a couple of touchdowns.
Cornerback Eugene Neboh was a neutralizer. He broke up four passes and played perfectly on deep ball after deep ball. Bruce Jones filled in for Douglas and there was no drop-off whatsoever. Truth be told, he covered better than Douglas has at any point this season. Tre' Porter was tasked with shadowing Tavon Austin, the nation's most dangerous receiver, and he stalemated Austin.
Special Teams: Fortunately, the offense and defense played so well that special teams breakdowns had not effect on the outcome. Kramer Fyfe, attempting to keep the ball out of Tavon Austin's hands, squib kicked twice. The second gave WVU the ball at the 45 and facilitated the Mountaineers' first touchdown. Later, he kicked to Austin, who promptly returned the ball to midfield. A pooch kick in the second half was much more effective. Ryan Bustin missed a 42-yard field goal with a mighty gale at his back.