DALLAS (AP) -- Texas Tech has proven in recent years that it can keep its offense chugging even when changing quarterbacks. Turns out, coach Mike Leach can plug offensive linemen and receivers into his system just as seamlessly.
Quarterback Graham Harrell welcomed four blockers and a trio of pass-catchers to the starting lineup by completing a career-high 44 passes for 419 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-9 victory over SMU on Monday.
Redshirt freshman Michael Crabtree announced his arrival with 12 catches for 106 yards, including touchdowns of 42, 2 and 1 yards. Senior Danny Amendola christened his starting debut with a 49-yard TD reception and finished with 10 catches for 149 yards.
"In this offense, you are going to put up big numbers, especially if you stay consistent and get the ball in the playmakers' hands," said Harrell, who threw 59 passes. "We came out and executed. That's what we do at Tech, we execute and make plays."
Harrell is Tech's first incumbent quarterback since Kliff Kingsbury was in charge from 2000-02. The junior's poise and accuracy kept the Red Raiders from missing last year's starting receivers, who left with a combined 504 catches and 7,014 yards.
He went 6-for-6 on the opening drive, then capped it with a 1-yard TD plunge. His next two TD drives went 95 and 88 yards, and he converted on six of his first eight third-down tries. He topped his previous high in completions (42) during the third quarter, then called it a day after a touchdown early in the fourth made it 42-6.
"We had some opportunities defensively to get them off the field on third downs and we couldn't just quite get enough pressure on him," SMU coach Phil Bennett said.
The new line boasts four guys who are 6-foot-7, with all five topping 300 pounds. They were solid enough to keep Harrell from getting sacked and helped the Red Raiders average 4.4 yards per run, albeit on only 18 carries. Shannon Woods led the way with 45 yards, including the final two touchdowns.
"A lot of people said they're inexperienced, but they are a huge unit," Harrell said. "They are going to get better and they did a really good job."
Harrell frustrated the Mustangs no matter what they did, beating blitzes by hitting his safety valve -- like Amendola on his touchdown -- and patiently finding his third, fourth or fifth passing option when the defense drifted back into coverage. Eleven players caught passes for Tech, including three first-timers.
"A lot of his passes he was just throwing them up and somebody was there," SMU linebacker Wilton McCray said.
Crabtree redshirted last year because the Red Raiders were set at receiver. His first game, and first start, came in his hometown of Dallas and he made it memorable with plenty of highlights: a 1-yard touchdown pass with 2 seconds left in the first half, dazzling open-field running and a nifty move to kick the pylon as he crossed the goal line on his long TD, and the 2-yarder to redeem himself one snap after a lob was knocked from his hands in the back of the end zone.
"If they call my number three times, they can expect three touchdowns," Crabtree said. "I could've done better with the yardage, but it was a real good game. ... I look at Graham, and he looks at me, and we have that connection. We just go from there."
Crabtree initially was ruled out of bounds inside the 1 on his long touchdown, but it was fixed by a replay. During the review, the Tech fans who made up the vast majority of the crowd of 26,969 whiled away the time with the call-and-response chant "Raider! Power!" as if they were back in Lubbock. It was just another example of how Tech dominated in every facet for a 12th straight win over SMU. The Red Raiders won last year's opener 35-3.
The Mustangs came in with high hopes on building off last year's 6-6 season, and they actually held in pretty well early. But after scoring two field goals to Tech's two early touchdowns, SMU couldn't recover from Crabtree's TD just before halftime that made it 21-6.
The Mustangs gained only 37 yards in the third quarter, offsetting it with 39 yards in penalties. That included a false start while a coach was giving an audible that looked like the chicken dance. SMU wound up punting on its first three drives of the second half, followed by consecutive turnovers. The skid ended with a 37-yard field goal from Thomas Morstead, who also made kicks of 35 and 36.
"It's my job to get them ready to play and we weren't ready to play to the level we had to be to play a team like Texas Tech," Bennett said.
Justin Willis, the Conference USA freshman of the year last season, was 15-of-33 for 138 yards with two interceptions. He also was the leading rusher with 40 yards.
Designed by Gray Digital Media