Coming to you live from a Halloween party via a dying iPhone (F you, Steve Jobs, this fucker was fully charged an hour ago) - we're going bullet point style on this one and allowing our elite commentariat to expand on things.
- It took some time to to get the cow in the chute and line up the bolt, but we finally managed to Anton Chigurgh the helpless animal that is the Tech defense.
- The rarity with with which our running backs hit a decent-size hole with momentum has been a painful part of this season, but when we actually manage it some good things happen. There's a massive Tech Discount Factor in play here, but fair play to both Brown and Gray for running with a purpose, making guys miss and finishing off runs with something that at least resembles authority. Gray made some ghastly bounce-out decisions early on, but once he started going north-south he sported some quality burst and even made a few lateral bounces that called to mind his pre-injury form. Brown served as an effective hammer through most of the contest, and got the chance to make a few things happen in the open field to boot. Again, Tech Discount Factor, but it was nice to see what these guys could deliver with some momentum. Hopefully they'll carry a bit of momentum into a must-win-for-bowl-eligibiiity throwdown with WVU next week.
- Swoopes flat-out swallowed his tongue on a rarely seen self-sack, self-fumble in the first quarter, but settled down after that to turn in a reasonably effective evening. He was off on a few throws and didn't always look to be flying through his progressions, but he dropped a few deep balls on the dot and would have enjoyed an even bigger night if not for a few drops. You can discount his performance as a product of Tech's dire D if you wish, but after a confidence-rattling outing against KSU it was nice to see him shrug off some early misfortune in a road night game and make some quality throws.
Gaskamp Harris was pretty much the whole show at receiver, getting loose on play action and out-fighting Tech DBs for a few contested balls. Marcus Johnson was oh-so-close on a couple of additional deep shots, and Andrew Beck showed off some reasonable wheels on a 4th quarter sideline route that he couldn't haul in. There wasn't a ton of opportunity to go around in a Run The Damn Ball-oriented outing, but
- We got two reminders of what a player who's actually scary with the ball in his hands looks like on a pair of Daje Johnson runs. We'll need a whole lot more of him going forward, so while he was absent from the air attack I'll count getting through this one without an injury or in-game suspension as a win.
- You've got to walk before you can run, and the OL got to take a few nice steps tonight in the run game. You won't find an opponent who'll offer less resistance along the defensive front than Tech, but simply getting to rep Inside Zone 25 times against a live opponent is the kind of thing that will pay dividends going forward.
- The D was frustrating early when the game was close and offensive frustration was bleeding over into the entire show. There looked to be some coverage busts on third-and-long dumpoffs, and at one point we looked determined to make Washington look like a combo of Tech's '98 Ricky Williams, our '98 Ricky Williams, Barry Sanders, Jim Brown and Jesus Christ. But setting aside the shoddy tackling (and assuming the offenders will have a rough week in the film room), it was a passable showing against a high-percentage passing attack even when the Testeverde Dicount gets applied.
- Quandre Diggs earns a shoutout tonight - he made one or two mistakes but did a fine job of jumping short routes and generally sticking tight to his man while adding a bonus KTFO of Tech's starting QB.
- 6% battery so we're cutting this one short, but more accomplished Texas teams than this have stepped on their dicks in the Lubbock snake pit. As the offense started clicking, the D held up its end of the deal and refused to let Tech back in the game. For right now, I'll take it.
- We actually did something besides simply exist on punt return, and Ship had a nice return up the left sideline. Our kick return game remains farcical, but a more or less fiasco-free evening is something to celebrate with this bunch.
- .667 on the evening on Nick Rose field goals? I guess yay?
THE BOTTOM LINE
Any level of performance against this Tech squad could be justly discounted, but national perception of this one was tight enough to have Texas as a scant '3.5 favorite an hour before kickoff. Regardless of opponent quality, simply getting to rep successful plays is a confidence and competence-builder, and those opportunities have been few and far between this season. Next week probably defines the season in terms of Texas' shot at .500 and vital bowl game reps - if an uneven 3-TD win gives us some mojo and momentum heading into WVU, I'll take it.