Texas Tech stumbled out of the blocks with a 42-35 win over Central Arkansas on Saturday.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury wasn’t happy with the performance of the Red Raiders' offense despite a Big 12-best 636 total yards and 7.2 yards per play in the season-opening win.
But one shining light for the Tech offense was the performance of its running backs. After a spring move to defense, leading returning rusher Kenny Williams now lines up at linebacker for the Red Raiders. It didn’t seem to hamper the running game on Saturday, as Kingsbury’s squad finished with 184 rushing yards, including a 104-yard, two-touchdown performance from DeAndre Washington. Fellow running backs Quinton White and Justin Stockton combined to add 83 rushing yards.
“I thought they ran tough,” Kingsbury said of his running backs. “I thought Q. White stepped in and had some good catches, and Justin Stockton ran fearless, and DeAndre picked up where he left off this spring. I think he's full speed again and has a lot of confidence right now.”
As the Red Raiders start planning for success in the future, a running game could prove helpful for quarterback Davis Webb. Improving its running game is critical for Tech after finishing No. 111 among FBS teams and last in the Big 12 with 118.2 rushing yards per game in 2013.
While Washington’s performance brings a lot of hope to the Red Raiders’ running game, Kingsbury was impressed by Stockton, a true freshman playing in his first collegiate action.
“I thought he ran the ball well, he stuck his nose in there and did good on protections,” Kingsbury said.
Stockton had six carries for 38 yards (6.3 yards per carry) and one touchdown along with two receptions for 17 yards. The four-star signee from Cibolo, Texas, created plenty of preseason buzz before fulfilling some of the hype on Saturday. He could see his role in the offense expand if he continues to make plays as a versatile threat in Tech’s offensive attack.
”He's a tough kid, heck of a player, heck of a talent,” Kingsbury said. “So, yeah, that will be a big piece of our offense moving forward.”