Harrell confounds critics with another big game

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Graham Harrell's name hasn't been found among the Heisman Trophy polls the last few weeks. And Texas Tech coach Mike Leach wonders why.

"I wouldn't say he's the best quarterback I've ever coached, but I would say he's the best in the nation this year," Leach said. "If you lead the nation in passing, I would think that deserves some attention.

"It's not like he does it once in a while. If it was so easy, everybody would do it, but everybody doesn't do it. He does, though."

Harrell lead the Red Raiders to a convincing 58-28 victory over Kansas State on Saturday, blistering the Wildcats for 454 yards and six touchdown passes, matching his career high.

In the process, he broke Kliff Kingsbury's school career passing record of 12,429 yards. Before the day was over, he had jumped past Luke McCown of Louisiana Tech and Chris Redman of Louisville into seventh place on the NCAA's career passing list.

"It's a huge honor to be able to do this," Harrell said. "We've had a lot of great players come through that have helped me out. It comes with a lot of effort from a lot of different people."

Four of the top nine single-season passing yardage totals in NCAA history have been produced by Leach's quarterbacks. Making it more impressive, all have been notched by different players.

Harrell could become the first Tech player to make the Top 10 list twice if he can continue his torrid pace during the rest of the season. He could be in line for a 5,000-yard season, becoming the first player in NCAA history to do it more than once.

And he could be in line to break B.J. Symons' single-season NCAA record of 5,833 passing yards with an especially strong finish. Playing an extra game in the Big 12 championship game would give him an opportunity that would be huge in that bid.

But he was more excited about the school record and how he can keep distancing himself from the others in every game.

"I guess I can break it every time I complete a pass," Harrell said, chuckling.

Before the game, an especially vociferous group of Kansas State fans were heckling Harrell and his accomplishments.

Their comments provided some levity for his teammates as they prepared for their first conference game.

"I never had any questions for Graham," Tech running back Baron Batch said. "But a lot of the fans did. They were yelling 'system quarterback' at him. One guy was giving it to him. But it's fun to play in a system when it's a winning system like we did."

By the end of the game, only a few thousand fans were left in the stadium. Harrell and his teammates were the ones who were laughing as they left the field after their fifth straight victory.

"I never doubt Graham because he's a good quarterback. And we won," Batch said. "If we keeping winning games he's going to keep closing mouths like he's doing."