2014 Spring Breakdown: Running Backs

Texas Tech wrapped its first season under coach Kliff Kingsbury with a Holiday Bowl win over Arizona State, signed a promising 2014 recruiting class and now spring ball is just around the corner. RaiderPower.com senior writer Joe Yeager breaks down the roster and highlights position battles to watch at running back.

Probable Starter: Kenny Williams | 5-foot-9, 225 | Senior | Pflugerville, Texas

Backups: Deandre Washington | 5-foot-8, 190 | Junior | Missouri City, Texas
Quinton White | 5-foot-7, 200 | Sophomore | College Station, Texas
Tyler Middleton | 6-foot, 190 | Junior | Midland, Texas
Rodney Hall | 5-foot-10, 245 | Junior | Angleton, Texas
Most Intriguing Battle: Can anybody emerge as a real threat to take snaps from Kenny Williams and DeAndre Washington?

Position Power Rating: 85

What Texas Tech's running back corps lacks in star power, it largely makes up for in depth and experience. Likely starter Kenny Williams probably won't make many preseason All Big 12 teams in 2014, but over the course of his Tech career he has started 23 games and amassed 1,456 rushing yards. That's a lot of experience and a solid chunk of yardage, and you can be sure Tech's offensive coaches rest easy knowing that such a veteran hand is in the backfield.

The experience doesn't stop there, however, nor does the experienced depth. Williams' primary caddy will almost certainly be junior DeAndre Washington, who himself has started three games and rushed for 851 yards in his prior two seasons at Tech. If, for whatever reason, Williams cannot go, there is very little drop-off with Washington in the lineup. Again, another reason Kliff Kingsbury and Mike Jinks shouldn't require ZzzQuil.

Once we get below second on the depth chart, however, things become a bit murkier. Sophomore Quinton White dazzled in spring drills last season and raised a few eyebrows with the damage he did on his few carries in the first half of the season, but then White vanished from the stat sheet. He played in all 13 games, but most of those were on special teams.

Junior college transfer Tyler Middleton brought superior speed to the backfield in fall camp, but in what was a surprise to some, redshirted. You can bet Middleton hasn't lost a step, however, and it will be most interesting to see what sort of a role he plays in the upcoming season.

Most Red Raider fans had never even heard of Rodney Hall until he scored a touchdown on a one-yard reception in the first quarter of Tech's blockbuster victory over Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl last season. The Sun Devils also apparently had never heard Hall's name. At 5-foot-10 and a powerful 245 pounds, Hall is obviously a blocking back and will probably get snaps in certain power sets just as Omar Ontiveros did.

That is Tech's primary stable of backs going into spring ball, and it is a very solid, well-rounded group. Williams brings some power and balance; Washington can get to the edge and make people miss; White looks like a prime talent with the ball in his hands; Hall should be a competent blocker, and hopefully Middleton can instill a fear factor in defenses with his speed.

And the fear factor is what this unit is missing. Williams' career long run is 47 yards, and Washington's is only 23. Tech's running game may inspire a certain amount of respect, but it is not dangerous enough to force defenses to really prepare for it. That means they can focus almost exclusively on the Red Raider passing attack. If and when the Tech ground game begins forcing defenses to account for it, then the proverbial Air Raid will go truly gonzo. Is there a back on the Tech roster who can bring such an element to the table? If so, it will become evident in less than a month.

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