The Texas Tech football annual spring game or Red/Black game will be held this Saturday at Jones Stadium. One of the most important positions to watch during this game is the running back spot where Texas Tech is looking to replace an all-Big 12 player.
A common cliché states that there is strength in numbers. The Texas Tech football team must hope that this rings true in regards to its running back position in 2016.
As spring practices wind down, there appears to be a logjam of players hoping to replaced 2015 1st-team all-Big 12 running back DeAndre Washington who gave the program two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
Though Texas Tech is known for its high-octane passing game, the offense is not at its best unless the team is able to run the ball and keep the opposing defense honest.
Kliff Kingsbury is a believer in running the ball. Last season, his offense rushed the ball on 42.8% of the 1,084 plays it ran.
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But the running back is also a huge part of the passing game. He must be able to pick up blitzing defenders and at times be a receiving option out of the backfield.
Thus, one of the biggest tasks the Texas Tech football team faces in this off season is figuring out how the depth chart at the running back position will stack up. Let’s take a look at the candidates the Red Raiders have on the roster.
It appears that Kingsbury is settled on who will be the starter. Earlier in the spring, he told the Lubbock media that junior Justin Stockton is “going to the the guy this year”.
Stockton brings elite speed to the field as Texas Tech football fans have seen over his first two seasons in Lubbock. As a backup to Washington, Stockton has averaged exactly seven yards per rush and 12.2 yards per reception.
As the video below shows, the native of San Antonio, Texas is electric with the ball in his hands. His straight-line speed is absurd and when he gets to daylight he is almost impossible to stop.
However, Stockton needs to show is that he can be a workhorse capable of getting tough yards. What made Washington special was that he had an innate ability to make the initial defender miss when they met near the line. If Texas Tech needed two yards at a crucial moment, Washington was almost always able to come through.
Stockton must demonstrate that he is not just a burner in the open field but that he can be the type of running back that can grind out tough yards in the fourth quarter of a close game by running tough between the tackles. If he displays this ability, he will be one of the best running backs in the Big 12.
Another player Texas Tech fans can expect to see is redshirt freshman Corey Dauphine. He is perhaps the most hyped and anticipated running back to come through Texas Tech in at least a decade.
A 4-star recruit in the 2015 class, Dauphine is a full-grown man. He is 6-feet-tall and weighs at least 200-pounds but will likely weight even more by the time September arises.
Like Stockton, Dauphine has breath-taking speed. In high school, he was a state champion in the 200-meter dash and posted one of the fastest times in the nation.
But before we anoint him with oil, he must prove that he can handle the nuances of the position like pass blocking and catching the ball out of the backfield. He has the physical tools to be one of the best running backs Texas Tech has fielded because players with his size and speed are rare.
To get an idea of what kind of physical anomaly Dauphine is, look at him in the picture below. He is standing on the far right side of the picture as you look at your screen.
As you can see, he looks like an NFL player but still, he must prove it on the field. His first opportunity to do so will be this Saturday and many Texas Tech football fans will be keeping an eye on him.
The next running back fighting for playing time is Demarcus Felton. The redshirt sophomore from Houston, Texas will remind many of a young DeAndre Washington in build and in style.
The 5-foot-7, 190-pound runner is not a physical specimen like Dauphine nor is he a speed demon like Stockton. What he is though is a complete running back that has two years in the Texas Tech offense.
Felton is a tough runner between the tackles and has the all-around game to be a factor this fall. He played sparingly last season carrying the ball six times for 73 yards and one touchdown in mop-up duty.
Then there is senior Quentin White who plays a hybrid running back/full back position. At 5-foot-7 but 207-pounds, he is often used as a lead blocker in two-back sets paving the way for the ball carrier. This is a role he has relished and embraced.
Finally, Kingsbury has said that true freshman De’Leon Ward from Dallas, Texas is likely to play this year. When Ward signed in February, Wreck ‘Em Red did a write up on the Skyline High School graduate. Link
Despite the fact that the Texas Tech football team is trying to replace one of the best running backs in program history, there are plenty of options for Kliff Kingsbury to chose from. How the repetitions shake out and how each player performs on Saturday will give fans a clue as to what we can expect for the Texas Tech running backs in the fall.