Baucum: Stepping Up

With Eric Stephens lost for the season, John Baucum takes a look at who there is to step up.

Eric Stephens' injury is a big blow to this Texas Tech team. Prior to the collision with A&M's Damontre Moore, Stephens was on pace for 1,000 yards and his 585 yards on the season trailed only Missouri's Henry Josey who has amassed 588 yards.  If there is a silver lining to this predicament, it has to be the depth at running back. Aaron Crawford is healthy for the first time in a long while, Ben McRoy is a dangerous weapon, and the Red Raiders added a wealth of gifted newcomers to the mix. Credit must go to Tuberville, Neal Brown, and RB coach Chad Scott for their persistence on the recruiting trail.

Aaron Crawford came to Texas Tech as part of the 2007 recruiting class. He chose Tech over offers from Kentucky and Mississippi State and interest from Arkansas.  Crawford played as a true freshman in 2007 and tallied a career-high 13 carries against Northwestern State. He enjoyed a breakout performance against Baylor that year, rushing nine times for 44 yards and two scores.  Crawford also scored on a 4-yard run with 3:10 left in the Gator Bowl that year that tied the game at 28. Although he has struggled with injuries since then, Crawford is healthy and will assume the role of starting running back.

After Crawford, the dynamic freshmen enter the mix. Deandre Washington, a 4-star recruit in 2011, is the speedster of the class.  He chose the Red Raiders over offers from 13 schools, including Oklahoma State, Baylor, Boise State, and West Virginia. On the season, Washington has 22 carries for 107 yards. His TDs came against Texas State and Kansas.

Kenny Williams is a big running back and would probably be considered the goal line back if the Red Raiders were forced to name one. Williams chose Tech over offers from A&M, West Virginia, Kansas State, Louisville and others. He has not played much this year, as his redshirt was removed prior to the Nevada game. On the year, Williams has six carries for five yards. Listed on the depth chart provided by the university at 5-9, 214 pounds. Kenny also has speed to go along with his impressive frame. Expect his touches to increase dramatically.

From the time he got here, and perhaps even more glaringly at the moment, Ben McRoy is the "X-factor" in this group. The sophomore dynamo continues to excel in kickoff return duty. Coaches always say that speed can't be taught and McRoy has more than enough to leave most Big 12 defenses choking on his dust. Ben will likely get the ball on creative plays and end arounds. As we've seen this year,  Neal Brown is not afraid to use one of them.

Texas Tech has got to hope that its combination of experience, young talent, and speed can ease the burden on Seth Doege and the passing game. One has to think that the primary reason Crawford is getting the starting nod is due to his experience in the offense and his knowledge of the blocking assignments. All the speed in the world is somewhat useless in this offense if the athlete is unable to know his role in QB protection. Each of these players should get the ball more over the course of the rest of the season, and that is a great problem to have considering the unique talents that each possesses.

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