Like any football team, Texas Tech has several players whose performance will be particularly critical to the squad's success. These players, whether by virtue experience, leadership, importance of the position played, depth concerns, or sheer talent, are especially crucial. They may or not be the best players on the club, but they would be very conspicuous were they to be absent for any reason. In fact, that may be the best way to conceive of the critical players—they are the performers the team could least afford to lose.
With this series, we will take a reverse order look at the Red Raider football players we consider most invaluable.
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Ordinarily, a team's starting running back, and particularly one as solid as Kenny Williams, would figure higher than number 11 on a list like this. After all, a team's primary mail toter is the spearhead of the all-important ground game. And as we all hear ad infinitum, the team that runs the ball the best is the team that wins.
But the Red Raiders are hardly a typical team and the Tech offensive backfield is far from run-of-the-mill.
Tech now has one of the more durable reputations as a pass-happy program. And that reputation is borne out by a history of 13 straight seasons where passing has been the modus operandi and running has been relegated to a surprise maneuver. With Kliff Kingsbury on the throne and calling the offensive shots, that doesn't figure to change much, at least from the standpoint of the running backs.
While coordinating Texas A&M's offense last season, Kingsbury did have a back rush for over 1,400 yards, but he was a quarterback named Johnny Manziel. The running back with the most rushing yardage was Ben Malena who zipped for 808 yards. Malena's total was exactly 16 yards less than what Kenny Williams carried for in 2012.
Now obviously, Tech signal caller Michael Brewer is unlikely to carry the rock 201 times as Manziel did, even though Brewer is a rather nifty scrambler in his own right. But it is far from out of the question that Brewer could carry 100 times or more, and that will cut into Williams' opportunities.
Additionally, the Red Raiders are three deep in quality running backs. In addition to Williams, there is sophomore Deandre Washington, who is returning from a knee injury and is expected by many to challenge Williams for the starting position. Washington brings a burst and a game-breaking dimension to the Tech backfield.
Then there is redshirt freshman Quinton White who was as impressive as any back in spring scrimmages. Like Washington, he is a shifty back, but he also has some of Williams' toughness. The one sure thing is that Williams, Washington and White will all get plenty of carries. And that means nobody will get a huge number of attempts.
But it would be folly to discount Williams' importance to the team. He is a rugged back with good durability, and is the team's most experienced back. Williams also has a complete game, and that may cement his status as a starter. In addition to his ability to power for yards when others would be repelled, Williams is a solid pass blocker and has made himself into a reasonably reliable receiver. Williams is not flashy, but he is very competent and you can never have too much competence.