There’s something about mediocre Big Ten bowl opponents that
bring out the worst in the Red Raiders. If Tech is heavily favored over an
underpowered Minnesota, Michigan State or Northwestern, you can be sure the Red
Raiders will make the game far more interesting than it ought to be. That was
certainly the case down in Houston where Tech’s defense made the anemic gophers
look like vintage Tom Osborne Cornhuskers and the offense went somnolent long
enough to put Red Raider heads in the noose.
Still, it was a win. Ask the Red Raiders if they’d like to
swap places with the Golden Gophers about now.
Quarterbacks: Seth Doege made some good plays and he made some bad ones, but when the chips were
down, he came through and led Tech to victory. The touchdown scramble late in
the second quarter was the best run of Doege’s
career. He was decisive, made one great move, and finished with heart and
effort. The two picks in the second half were nearly fatal. The slant to Eric Ward for the tying points was Doege at his best. Micheal
Brewer’s touchdown pass to Derek Edwards was perfect and impressive considering
he came in cold.
Running Backs: Kenny Williams and Eric Stephens were sharp, quick and fast. They couldn’t have
played much better, and should have gotten more opportunities to run the rock.
was not a scintillating performance by the wideouts.
Eric Ward struggled at times against Michael Carter, but his game-tying
touchdown reception was the highlight of the game for this group. Darrin Moore
had a very quiet 11-catch game. Tyson Williams had six receptions, but dropped
a touchdown pass and committed a touchdown-nullifying holding penalty. Jace Amaro’s return from injury
was inauspicious. He dropped one pass, and committed a critical personal foul
violation that got him ejected from the game. The key to Amaro’s
future is psychological maturation.
Offensive Line: The
line played one of its better games of the season. Beau Carpenter’s personal
foul gave Minnesota the field position to score a touchdown, LaAdrian Waddle had a silly unsportsmanlike conduct
penalty, and Deveric Gallington
surrendered one sack, but otherwise it was lights out. Carpenter was a mauler
in the run game, and both tackles blocked very will in general. The Gophers
blitzed a great deal but rarely bothered Doege.
Defensive Line: The
line was tough against the pass but had no answer for Minnesota’s run blocking.
Specifically, the Gophers couldn’t handle Dartwan
Bush, Dennell Wesley, and Kerry Hyder
when their quarterbacks dropped to pass, but few of Tech’s linemen managed to
hang in on running plays. Additionally, Tech’s ends missed far too many tackles
in the backfield. Philip Daniels and MarQueis Gray
are nobody’s Johnny Manzeil and Robert Griffin, and
Tech can thank God for that.
linebackers didn’t make a single play in the backfield or a single play in the
passing game. What’s more, most of their tackles came well downfield. We saw
little block-shedding from this group. Micah Awe got
by far his most extensive playing time of the season and finished with four
of D. J. Johnson’s monster interception, it was a terrible night for the
secondary. The Minnesota passing attack—if one can call it that—is
abysmal, yet Gopher receivers ran free through the secondary for most of the
game. The Red Raiders can be thankful that Minnesota’s quarterbacks are about
as accurate as Mr. Magoo. Why the secondary was so
disorganized is somewhat of a mystery. As is Derrick Mays’ extensive presence
and Bruce Jones’ relative absence.
Special Teams: Jakeem Grant certainly has the wow factor, doesn’t he? As soon as he learns to take
what the coverage gives him, he will be a very special return man. Austin Zouzalik had a great punt return nullified by an illegal
block. Ryan Bustin did not choke when confronted by a
game-winning kick situation. Ryan Erxleben’s punts
were subpar and so were Kramer Fyfe’s kickoffs.