As Tommy Tuberville indicated in his post-game comments, this was hardly his team's finest hour. The Red Raiders were sporadic on offense and played their worst defensive game of the season. Still, they gutted out a win over a very tough opponent, and did so minus starting cornerback Cornelius Douglas and three of the team's top offensive weapons. Thus, while the grades may not reflect it, in many ways this was a glorious win.
Quarterback: The Red Raiders couldn't have done it without Seth. He was without Jace Amaro, Javon Bell and Bradley Marquez, he absorbed a helmet to the chin, and his left guard let him down—literally—but Doege still managed to author a sterling performance.
There's just not much room for complaint. He overshot Marcus Kennard for what should have been a touchdown, and had maybe two other really bad passes, but otherwise was sharp as blades. People will notice his seven touchdown passes, but it was the zero interceptions that won the game.
Running Backs: It was a surprisingly quiet day for SaDale Foster, Eric Stephens and Kenny Williams. They got a meager 20 carries between them as Neal Brown never even attempted to establish the running game. Foster didn't show much, but Stephens picked up a few key first downs out of the wildcat. Williams, however, stole the show with his 47-yard touchdown rumble that should have clinched the game for Tech. The power and balance were impressive, and he had just enough horsepower to leg it into the end zone. All the backs did good work in pass protection.
Receivers: If Seth Doege gets the main most game ball, honorary game balls go to Austin Zouzalik and Alex Torres. These forgotten players were pressed into service because of injuries and they rose to the occasion. Zouzalik and Torres may not have the flash and sizzle of Jace Amaro and Javon Bell, but doggone it, they got open and they caught everything. Torres' diving one-handed stab may have been the play of the game. Except for that little game winning grab in triple overtime, that is.
As an aside, blocking in the second and third levels of the defense has improved dramatically the past two weeks. SaDale Foster and Kenny Williams have long touchdown runs to show for the receivers' great work in this area.
Offensive Line: Beau Carpenter whiffed twice on Devonte Fields and Seth Doege paid the price. Fields is not the guy to whiff on. Outside of those two miscues, pass protection was good. Very good even. Terry McDaniel was flagged for a hold, but otherwise was a real tiger. He had a wicked pancake on an Eric Stephens third down conversion out of the wildcat in the third quarter. Run blocking wasn't too hot, but the line didn't get much of an opportunity to do it either.
Defensive Line: There was plenty of good and bad out of this group. Kerry Hyder continues to be unblockable at times. He's the sort of tornadic defensive tackle Tech arguably has not had since Gabe Rivera. Hyder reminds one of Warren Sapp. But as good as Hyder was, Dartwan Bush was even better. He played the game of his career and was Tech's answer to Devonte Fields. If Bush can play this way on a regular basis, there's not need to blitz. That aside, Tech's defensive tackles got owned far too much in this game, and that's what allowed TCU to run the football. If Michael Starts is healthy, Tech could use him.
Linebackers: Will Smith missed one tackle, but otherwise played very well. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for Sam Eguavoen, who was a tackle-missing machine. If the TCU game is any indicator, he cannot be relied upon to make tackles in space. Terrance Bullitt has had a quiet season and he didn't make much noise against the Horned Frogs either.
Secondary: Safety play continues to be a real team strength for the Red Raiders. As per usual, Cody Davis led the team in tackles and D. J. Johnson was right behind him. Davis and Johnson also took turns picking off Trevone Boykin. And it was Davis' pass breakup in triple overtime, which forced the Frogs to kick a game-losing field goal. As such, it may have been the defensive play of the game.
Bruce the Blanket had a nice game in place of Cornelius Douglas, and Eugene Neboh was having a fine outing until LaDarius Brown toasted him for a 60-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. That lapse and Johnson's silly personal foul penalty were the only major lapses in the secondary.
Special Teams: The onsides kick, perfectly executed by Kramer Fyfe, was huge. And what a gutsy call! Every now and again the Riverboat Gambler does rear his head. Ryan Erxleben got more work than he wanted, and responded by averaging 47.4 yards per punt, including a career long of 60. Kickoff coverage was solid, too, but Tech allowed TCU over 12 yards per punt return. Alex Torres' holding penalty on a kickoff return cost Tech over 20 yards of field position and contributed significantly to TCU's first touchdown.