Running backs hope to keep momentum

Texas Tech running back Justin Stockton rushes for a 75-yard touchdown during the game against UTEP on Saturday at Sun Bowl Stadium. Stockton rushed for a total of 139 yards and eight carries.

In Texas Tech’s opening game against Central Arkansas, junior running back DeAndre Washington snapped a program streak of 24 games without having a 100-yard rusher.

Last weekend, freshman running back Justin Stockton extended a new streak to two games with a 100-yard rusher.

Washington said the offense is aware of the streak and are hoping to keep extending it.

“We are all pushing for it. The running game has definitely done some big things in the first two games,” he said. “We have been in Coach Kliff Kingsbury’s ear this whole week, just trying to keep things going. We started off on a positive note, but it’s a long season. The plan is to keep things going.”

In the 2011 season, Washington earned All-Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honorable mention before redshirting in 2012 due to an injury.

Last season, Washington backed up senior linebacker Kenny Williams and ran the ball 107 times for 450 yards and four touchdowns. Now in his junior season, Washington has earned the starting position and is leading a group of young running backs.

As the starter and being injury free, Washington said he feels like he’s in better shape and is more confident than he has ever been.

“I think I’m just a lot more comfortable and a lot more experienced. I’m way more physical than I’ve been in the past,” Washington said. “Overall, experience just helps.”

In the first two games this season, while splitting carries with Stockton and sophomore running back Quinton White Jr., Washington has ran the ball 32 times for 163 yards and a touchdown.

Washington said being a vocal leader for other backs was not something he would have been comfortable with in the past but is enjoying this season.

“I feel like being the oldest of the position and having the most experience, I can teach all of the young guys just things that I have learned from experience,” he said. “I just try to share my knowledge. I have accepted the role and it feels good.”

After two games, Stockton is leading the team in rushing yards with 177 and rushing touchdowns with two.

White said everyone knew Stockton had speed, but they have been impressed at how the freshman has handled the pressure.

“My freshman year here, I would have been nervous. But (Stockton) has stepped in and filled his role,” White said. “He’s fast, obviously, some of those outside runs, he has taken them to the house. He has come a long ways since he got here.”

Against UTEP, Stockton broke loose for a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter. The run was the longest for a Red Raider since the Alamo Bowl in2012, according to the Tech Athletics website.

He ended the game with 135 yards on only 8 carries, and became the first Tech freshman to run for 100 yards since Taurean Henderson in the 2002 season.

Washington said he has fun watching Stockton improve because it pushes himself to keep working hard every day in practice.

“He is an extremely explosive player. It’s impressive,” Washington said. “He has got that speed, something that you cannot really coach. He is going to be a special player here at Texas Tech. As long as he remains humble and just keeps working, then things will fall into place for him.”

White tops off the Red Raider’s three-back rotation, which has made the run even more difficult to stop for opposing defenses.

Measuring 5’7’’, what White is lacking in height he makes up for with his 200 pounds of muscle and a strong work ethic.

White believes having Stockton’s speed and his power is a positive for the offense, he said, when used in the right situations.

“It’s good to have power and speed, and DeAndre has both,” White said. “It’s definitely tough for defenses to capitalize when we have all that.”

While White was quick to declare Stockton as the fastest running back on the team, Washington jokingly said he is not ready to say Stockton is faster than himself.

“I think in a 40-yard race, I could get (Stockton),” Washington said. “I think for 100 yards he’ll get it, but for a quick burst I would give him a run for his money.”

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.