All too often the armchair quarterbacks single out particular units of a team for praise or criticism without factoring in the reality that all units of an offense or defense rely upon the other units for their success. All of which is another way of saying that a given offense or defense is only as good as its weakest unit.
These truisms spring readily to mind when discussing the Texas Tech rushing attack with running backs coach Mike Jinks. For while he’s more than willing to give the low-down on luminaries in his own group, he also volunteers information and opinions about the other offensive units.
For example, when entertaining the possibility that Tech’s offense will see fewer “run boxes” (defensive lineups with few players near the line of scrimmage) in 2015 because of the ground game’s success a year ago, Jinks doesn’t take the appetizing bait. Instead, he offers, “I tell you what. We’ve got to go out and prove it, but I like what I see out of our receiving corps so far.”
In other words, Jinks believes the passing attack will be so potent that it will be difficult to load up the box in an attempt to foreclose the run.
And again, when trying to predict whether or not Tech will run the ball a higher percentage of the time than last year, Jinks turns his attention to another aspect of the offense: “If they’re gonna give us a light box… One of the things I noticed this spring is our quarterbacks did a very good job of recognizing and checking into the run.”
Thus, in the event that the Red Raider offense does see run boxes, quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Davis Webb will take advantage of them.
Or we can take the offensive line. It is a well-known fact that the one serious deficiency in Tech’s rushing attack last season was a seeming inability to score touchdowns on the ground. Despite the fact the Red Raiders featured a 1000-yard rusher in DeAndre Washington, Tech scored only eight rushing touchdowns, some 47 less than nation-leading Georgia Southern.
Quinton White (left) and DeAndre Washington.
But rather than dilate on Washington or the various other talents in the Tech backfield, Jinks points the spotlight at the offensive line.
“One of the things that’s gonna be the major factor to that [scoring rushing touchdowns] is, let’s take Jared Kaster. You’re looking at a kid who played at about 275 last year; now he’s 300 pounds. We’re bigger and stronger across the board so we should be able to move some bodies.”
As to the players under his tutelage, Jinks willingly provides insight. For instance, he offers this comparison of Washington and potential super soph, Justin Stockton.
“Right now, at this point in their careers, DeAndre is more of a complete back than Justin. DeAndre just has a unique ability to run and make people miss between the tackles, whereas right now Justin is a little bit more sudden. When he sticks his foot in the ground he can really crease it and go 80.”
In a recent press conference, Kliff Kingsbury stated that Stockton is a “No. 1-type back.” Jinks concurs with that assessment and elaborates further.
“That would be a correct statement. I mean Justin has done a really good job of following Dre’s lead. He really worked on his craft. Gained, what, 13, 15 pounds. Didn’t lose any speed. Not only that, he really studied and worked on his protection, so I think what you saw in the spring and the fall…his confidence is at an all-time high. He looks like a completely different player, and I’m excited to watch him play.”
Justin Stockton running between the tackles in Midland.
And furthermore, “He’s run well in between the tackles. He’s running through arm tackles. Again, a lot of that credit goes to 21 [Washington].”
With regard to Corey Dauphine, a speedy freshman from Port Arthur, Jinks apparently likes what he’s seen so far.
“Corey’s flashed, Corey’s flashed. Now there’s not a must to rush Corey in there, but he has definitely flashed in camp.”
Jinks says that it is still too early to say whether Dauphine will redshirt, but one gets the sense that he and coach Kingsbury would prefer to sit him for 2015.
There has, of course, been some speculation about whether or not Tech will run the football a higher percentage of the time in 2015 than in 2014. Kingsbury himself, through his public statements, has fed that speculation. Jinks, however, is a bit more cautious. He takes the approach that the amount of runs will depend heavily on what looks the defenses give.
“I expect it [the rushing game] to pick up right where it left off,” Jinks declares. “Again, if we eliminate turnovers, if we eliminate three-and-outs and silly mistakes we’ll have more touches in the ballgame. But if you’re talking about a percentage, we’re gonna do what it takes—an old coach’s answer—we’re gonna do what it takes to win the ballgame. So I’m excited about what the future holds.”
With a veteran such as Washington in the fold, as well as young talents such as Stockton and Dauphine, not to mention the players and other units that Jinks singled out, it would seem he has good reason to be excited.
Jinks Expects Improvement across the Board
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