The running back in Mike Leach's Air Raid offense has one of the most complex jobs next to that of the quarterback. Not only must the running back be able to run the ball with explosiveness and tenacity, he must also be an excellent receiver and very good at pass protection. The running back will normally have between 800 and 900 rushing yards along with 500-700 yards receiving in a single season. Without a player with the ability to do all of these things, Coach Leach's offense would have great difficulty ever reaching its full potential.
Shannon Woods- Shannon Woods had one of the most prolific seasons of any running back in the Mike Leach era at Texas Tech University. Woods ended up with an astounding 1808 yards and 12 touchdowns by rushing for 926 yards and 10 touchdowns, pulling in 75 receptions for 572 yards and 2 touchdowns, and gaining 310 yards on kick-off returns. Shannon is an extremely fast and powerful runner and managed to not only fill the shoes of former Red Raider great Taurean Henderson, but actually made some Texas Tech fans wonder where this explosive running back had come from and why they hadn't heard of him.
While he isn't extremely large at 5 feet 11 inches tall and 190 pounds, he plays much larger than he actually is. While Shannon is just as happy to run right past a defender or use an impressive spin move to elude him, he has no qualms about lowering his shoulder and picking up the tough yardage. The one area that Woods will need to continue to work on during the off-season is his ability to catch the football on a consistent basis. With the ball in his hands there is almost no stopping Woods, but occasionally his lack of concentration can get Shannon into trouble. With another spring to work on catching passes and further refine his running techniques, Woods can continue to emerge as one of the most dangerous running backs in the Big XII.
RB Baron Batch
Baron Batch- Baron was a highly touted freshman running back that didn't have the opportunity to find his niche during the 2006 season when he suffered a season ending injury. Batch showed flashes of greatness last season before his injury and proved to be a very had nosed runner. He could become a very nice compliment to Shannon Woods' running style if he is able to come back from his injury well during spring practices and mirror his terrific performance from last fall's practices.
Kobey Lewis- Kobey Lewis is a particularly interesting running back on Texas Tech's roster. A diminutive back at 5 feet 5 inches tall and 173 pounds, he physically resembles former Texas Tech running back Johnny Mack and needs only a little seasoning to become the "scat back" that Mack so totally embodied. Almost impossible to see behind the Red Raiders offensive line, Lewis has the potential to easily break through the line and fly 40 or 50 yards down the field with the entire defense out of position because they are unaware as to where he is and where he is going. While Lewis is light on experience, he is certainly not gun shy and showed on several occasions that he is also capable of blocking extremely well when it is needed, in particular picking up a blitzing linebacker against SMU to allow Graham Harrell to throw his first touchdown of the 2006 season.
Also included in Mike Leach's offense is the Big H or slot tight end/full back. This position is one that receives very little credit, but it selflessly performs one of the most important tasks in the Air Raid offense. Not only is the Big H a full back that blows open holes for running backs, he can also be a part of the two tight end set in the slot to either pass or run block. While not usually a receiving threat, the Big H can on occasion take a dump off pass and turn it into a crucial gain.
Big H depth chart- David Schaefer
David Schaefer- Schaefer has 2 catches for 10 yards in his two years of playing the Big H role for the Red Raiders. His physicality and willingness to throw his body into his work is an extremely admirable quality in what is one of the least recognized positions on any football team. Schaefer not only blows open the holes needed for the running backs, he is also a very capable pass blocker. If the Red Raiders are facing a particularly good pass rush, Schaefer can line up in the slot or as a full back to provide extra help to the Texas Tech offensive line.
Come back next time as Red Raider Football Analyst Mitchell Fish breaks down the defensive linemen that will lead the charge against opposing offenses in the 2007 football season.
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