The Red Raiders' rushing attack had its first big game against North Carolina State. In that game the Tech running backs rushed for 181 yards on 26 carries. That is an average of 6.9 yards a carry. This game marks the point when the Red Raiders began to run the ball with great effectiveness. In the first three games of the season, Tech running backs had rushed 54 times for 240 yards. With the backs averaging 4.4 yards a carry, and 80 yards a game, the offense was once again relying on Kingsbury's arm. In the last four games, the Red Raiders have made significant improvements to the ground game. The running backs have gained 500 yards on 82 carries. This gave the backs an average of just over 6 yards a carry and 125 yards a game. The running backs are also getting a few more carries recently. In the first three games, they had 18 carries a game, while they have averaged 21.5 carries over the last four games.
There have been a couple of key factors that have led to this improvement. The first is the emergence of Taurean Henderson. Henderson had a breakout game against N.C. State with 21 carries for 141 yards. This game was his best this year, and gave him the starting spot ahead of Foy Munlin and Vincent Meeks. Henderson brings several good things to our offense. He has the elusiveness to make multiple tacklers miss. He is also strong enough that he can be tough to tackle at times. This combination makes him a dangerous weapon when we hand him the ball.
The other factor has been the improved offensive line play. This unit is the 2nd biggest in the nation, and they use every pound to open up holes for Henderson and the other Texas Tech backs. This unit is just doing good fundamental run blocking. They are firing out well, and getting a block on somebody just about every running play.
This increasingly potent running game has caused problems for opposing defenses. Last season the game plan against the Red Raiders was to drop as many players a s possible into coverage. This led to an offense that was forced to throw short passes most of the time. The end result was an offense that put up yards, but didn't do a good job translating those yards into points. With the improved ground game things have changed. Defenses have to respect the ability of the Red Raiders to run the football. With Texas Tech running backs averaging 6 yards a carry over the last 4 games, defenses are having to keep extra players near the line in order to stop the run. This has allowed the Texas Tech passing game to flourish. With fewer players in coverage, Kingsbury has more chances to throw the ball down the field. This has resulted in an offense that is balanced enough to always keep the other team guessing. As long as the other team has to keep guessing, the Red Raiders' offense will continue to put up big numbers throughout the season.