Continuing this week and going through the next several weeks, I will be previewing different position groups for the upcoming 2016 Tech football team. This week, we will be previewing one of the major question mark of position groups on the offensive side of the football, the running backs.
The Webster’s Dictionary definition of replace is "to put someone or something new in the place or position of (someone or something)." The Red Raiders are not going to have an easy time trying to replicate the production that DeAndre Washington provided for them in 2015.
To be fair to the current running back’s on Tech’s roster, Washington had the best season by a Tech running back since the beginning of the "Air Raid" brand of football began in Lubbock (and it wasn’t close, really). On top of that, Washington finished fifth all-time in Tech football history in rushing yards, despite getting a slim 184 carries combined in his first two seasons and suffering an ACL injury at the end of the 2011 season forcing him to miss the entirety of the 2012 season. DeAndre is a special, special talent that the Red Raiders are losing and the Oakland Raiders are gaining.
Now onto bigger and better things, Justin Stockton. JStooooock. He’s really, really fast.
(While writing this I had to stop down and watch this play thirty-two times on replay. So awesome.)
There is no doubting Stockton’s speed. He’s the fastest running back I’ve seen in a Tech uniform (albeit my 21st birthday is in two weeks).
A phrase that is infrequently pleaded by fans to their running backs of their team is begging them to go North-South instead of East-West (North-South meaning running downhill, as opposed to East-West cutting, "running sideways"). Here’s my reversal take. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE JStock, more East-West than North-South this year. That had to be the main offseason task the coaching staff layed out for JStock, right?
According to the Tech Spring depth chart, DeMarcus Felton is listed as the second string running back behind JStock. Felton is listed as 5’7 190 lbs (that’s one inch taller than Jakeem Grant). I see Felton as a change of pace running back behind JStock. Felton got 6 carries for 73 yards last season including a 53-yard touchdown run against Iowa St. Corey Dauphine and Quinton White will also look to get into the running back rotation. After watching Dauphine at the spring scrimmage in Midland, I’m excited about this guy. Dauphine is only a redshirt freshman, so he will still have some time to develop a little bit more. The speed and running ability is there, he just needs to get some carries under his belt.
I see similarities with the running game situation this year for Tech as was the Dallas Cowboys running game situation was going into the season last year. Save the godly offensive line that is the Cowboys O-Line, but the idea that the Cowboys had last season that they could plug any running back in and still have a successful running game came into fruition. With the loss of DeMarco Murray to free agency after having the most successful rushing season in Cowboys history, the Cowboys still finished 9th in the NFL in rushing. Now, Tech is in an almost identical situation with the loss of DeAndre. Even with the loss of three starting offensive lineman as well, the idea that Tech can plug in just about any running back and get an above replacement level return at the position is not unrealistic to figure. The way this offense has become dynamic with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback has opened up the running game even more. They won't average 191.3 yards a game like they did last year, but they won't take a giant step back in the running game either.
Credit to Fox Sports and the Big 12 for the clip.