LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) -- After his first college start, Texas Tech
quarterback Graham Harrell received the highest of praise from his
"Graham Harrell reminds me of Tom Brady," said Robert Johnson,
who caught two of Harrell's five touchdown passes as the
25th-ranked Red Raiders defeated SMU 35-3 on Saturday night.
"He's a calm guy out there. He's just cool."
Harrell calmly picked apart the Mustangs in the season opener
for both teams, throwing for 342 yards. Johnson set a school record
with 15 catches for 139 yards.
It was offense as usual for the Red Raiders, whose quarterbacks
have led the nation in passing the past four years. Harrell threw
TD passes of 8, 12, 14, 45 and 3 yards, two more scoring strikes
than he threw all last season as the backup in Tech's high-octane
Texas Tech coach Mike Leach agreed that Harrell showed composure
but for one exception.
"He threw one bonehead ball and there was about a series and a
half where I called some bad plays and he couldn't overcome my
coaching," Leach said. "I thought he was pretty good."
SMU coach Phil Bennett said he wasn't disappointed in his team's
effort but for their offensive sputters.
"When we would get something going we would have penalties,"
he said. "Obviously, the biggest part of the game that was
disappointing was our third-down conversions. They were able to
convert third and long, and we weren't."
SMU's secondary couldn't stop Tech's passing attack, even though
the Red Raiders (1-0) were without Jarrett Hicks, one of their
leading receivers who is awaiting word from the NCAA on an appeal
of his academic eligibility.
So Harrell focused on Johnson, a quarterback turned receiver who
broke a Tech record for catches set in 2002 by Wes Welker when he
had 14 in the Red Raiders 42-38 win over Texas.
Johnson is one of a corps of receivers who are a "quarterback's
dream," Harrell said.
"He knows where the open area of the field is, and he knows how
to get there and get open," Harrell said. "With a player like
that, all you have to do is put it near him and let him work."
The five touchdown passes by Harrell, who holds the Texas high
school record for touchdown passes in a season with 67, bested
first-outing performances by his four predecessors. Cody Hodges had
four TD in his debut last year, as did Sonny Cumbie the year
before. B.J. Symons had three and Kliff Kingsbury threw two.
Harrell, whose 45-yard scoring pass went to Danny Amendola late
in the third quarter to put Tech up 28-3, completed passes to eight
receivers. Despite a good showing, Harrell said he knows there's
work still to be done.
"I think we did some good things out there," he said. "We
have to continue to improve, and I'm sure coach will emphasize
Harrell, who completed 34-of-49 passes, showed poise even as the
Mustangs pressured him with numerous blitzes. Though he ran a
couple of times, he seemed more comfortable hanging in the pocket
until he found an open receiver.
SMU (0-1) jumped in front with a field goal and had a good
opportunity to pull within 11 points early in the second half.
Blake Warren nearly returned a punt for a touchdown but was tackled
by Tech punter Alex Reyes at the Red Raiders' 26.
Four plays later, after first-time starting quarterback Justin
Willis fumbled the snap and lost 9 yards, the Mustangs missed a
field goal from 49 yards to trail 21-3.
"He was not intimidated whatsoever," Bennett said of Willis,
who finished 9-of-16 for 69 yards. "He didn't have great numbers,
but I definitely see a future for him."
SMU finished last season on a three-game win streak, but the
Mustangs faded as the game wore on. They got only 64 total yards
and four first downs in the second half. Tech held SMU to 189 total
Tech unveiled its new FieldTurf surface to fans. Gone is the
tired AstroTurf -- Tech was one of the last schools in the country
with the surface -- and the crown over the center of the field that
aided in drainage. Also missing was the running track that used to
encircle the field.
The school also built a low, brick wall around the perimeter of
the field area to match the facade on the stadium's west side.