Stock Up: Quandre Diggs
With Texas struggling and trailing, 6-3, the senior defensive back came up with arguably the biggest play of the game. As Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes scrambled left, Diggs met him with a huge hit, jarring the ball loose in the process.
“When I saw him hit the guy, I wasn’t excited — I was shocked,” senior linebacker Steve Edmond said about the hit. “I didn’t know how a guy that small could bring that much power.” Through nine games, Diggs has been far and away the best corner for Texas, leading the Longhorns’ pass defense to a top-10 national ranking. He has been all over the field — breaking up deep balls and stuffing the run.
Stock Up: Bryson Echols
The sophomore defensive back saw significant time at nickelback for the first time this season. You may not have even realized he was playing, as the receivers he was guarding remained relatively quiet. That’s good news for a corner. But, in addition to helping hold Tech’s pass-heavy offense to just 225 yards, Echols recorded seven tackles — four of those on his own. When Diggs leaves after the year, someone is going to have to step up. After his performance Saturday, Echols is showing that he could be that guy.
Stock Up: Running backs
Remember how disappointing the running game was in the first two-thirds of the season? It’s understandable if those memories were erased Saturday, as the Longhorns scampered for 241 yards. Senior Malcolm Brown became the first Longhorn to break the 100-yard mark in a game this season, as he ran for 116 yards and two touchdowns. And that was after not getting a carry in the second half against Kansas State. Junior Johnathan Gray’s performance was even more encouraging. Gray ran for 76 yards and a touchdown of his own, making this the season’s first game in which both backs had success.
Stock Down: Marcus Johnson
Can things get any worse for the junior wideout? He had just one catch for five yards and dropped what easily would have been a huge gain. It’s his seventh game with two or less catches. He only had four such games last year. Without Johnson, Texas’ wide-receiving corps remains thin, as only seniors John Harris and Jaxon Shipley seem to be making plays. They both leave next year, and, as of now, Johnson seems far, far away from stepping into the No. 1 role in 2015.