Texas Tech football: Grad transfer RB Armand Shyne great fit in new scheme

BOULDER, CO - NOVEMBER 17: Armand Shyne #6 of the Utah Utes carries the ball against the Colorado Buffaloes in the third quarter at Folsom Field on November 17, 2018 in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
BOULDER, CO - NOVEMBER 17: Armand Shyne #6 of the Utah Utes carries the ball against the Colorado Buffaloes in the third quarter at Folsom Field on November 17, 2018 in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Being as the new Texas Tech football coaching staff will prioritize running the ball between the tackles, grad transfer running back Armand Shyne looks to be a great fit for the Red Raiders.

Matt Wells wants to bring a new physicality to the Texas Tech football program.  Offensive coordinator David Yost wants to run the ball between the tackles.  Grad transfer Armand Shyne specializes in both.

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound running back has had an up and down college career thus far as injuries have kept him from truly breaking out. In 19 career games at Utah, he ran for 885 yards and four touchdowns, which makes him the most productive running back on the Red Raider roster.

As a freshman, he was leading the Utes in rushing with 373 yards and four touchdowns in five games before a torn ACL ended his season.  That year, he had one 100-yard game and two performances over 90 yards.

His injury problems persisted in 2017 when a fractured forearm forced him to miss the entire season.  During that time, Zach Moss became a star for the Utes running for 1,173 yards and 10 touchdowns to push Shyne into a reserve role.

But last year, Moss was the one who went down with his own knee injury, suffered in practice in early November.  Shyne stepped in and ran for a career-high 174 yards against Oregon in his first start of the season.

But in the final four games, he put up just 172 total yards and found the endzone only once.  Those pedestrian numbers and the fact that the Utes have added 4-star running back Jordan Wilmore this year meant that Shyne’s role was likely to diminish this fall.  Still, he could be a nice addition to the Red Raider backfield.

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That’s because he is a physical runner who specializes in picking up yardage between the tackles.  For an example of how tough he can be as a runner, take a look at this breakdown of a couple plays from last fall’s Oregon game.

On these two runs, Shyne shows just how powerful he is and displays impressive balance and fight, making him difficult for just one tackler to bring down.  In this collection of highlights from 2016, also notice how often he fought through the first contact from a defender and gained most of his yardage after contact.

Shyne picked up most of his yards at Utah running off tackle and that will likely be a huge staple of this year’s offense in Lubbock given that Tech will have two stellar tackles in Travis Bruffy and Terence Steele.  What’s more, expect to see plenty of Shyne and the other running backs being led by guards Jack Anderson and Madison Akamnonou as they use their athleticism to pull and become lead blockers.

In the last 20 years of Tech football, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing most Red Raider running backs be smallish players who want to make defenders miss in space.  But at times, there have been downhill runners like DeAndre Washington or Baron Batch who have been tough between the tackles and Shyne appears cut from that mold.

"“I expect Armand to be in competition for the running back job immediately,” Matt Wells said to Inside the Red Raiders. “He’s big. He’s physical. He’s a one-cut guy and I think he’s a physical running back.”"

That competition for the starting spot will include another big back, redshirt freshman Sarodorick Thompson.  The 6-foot, 200-pound Irving product ran for 105 yards and three scores last year in four games.  He could be a breakout player but he is not as battle-tested as Shyne.

This year, the Texas Tech basketball program made the most of graduate transfers Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens who were starters and leaders on the Red Raiders Final Four team.  Now, Wells is hoping that Armand Shyne can have a similar impact on the football program.

The 2019 Texas Tech offense is going to be young in the backfield with a sophomore QB in Alan Bowman being flanked by a pair of underclassmen running backs (Thompson and sophomore T’Zhawn Henry).  Shyne could not only be a leader on the field but in the locker room and in the running back meetings where his experience should be a valuable asset.

In years past, Tech has had marginal success when trying to count on JUCO running backs to fill a similar role.  Two years ago, Desmond Nisby had a promising start to his Red Raider career with 197 yards and six touchdowns in the first five games of 2017 but he flamed out and was at the end of the bench by the final month of the season and wound up transferring before the 2018 campaign.

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Meanwhile, another JUCO transfer, Tre King had a decent two-year run in Lubbock.  He amassed 783 yards and six touchdowns combined in 2017-18 and was a shifty runner who was capable of picking up yards in the middle of the field.  Now, Shyne will step into that role as a grad transfer with only one year left in his college career.  And hopefully, he will be another cog in what Wells believes will be a Red Raider team that brings physicality back to Texas Tech football.