LAWRENCE,Kan.– At one point in the first month of the season, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said he had capable running backs with nowhere to run.
That changed Saturday. And once the Red Raiders running backs found some daylight, Kingsbury kept giving them chances to shine. Tech had four rushing touchdowns and more than 100 yards on the ground in a 54-16 victory atKansas.
“One thing that we pride ourselves in the running back room is the running backs get us started,” said Kenny Williams, who had 42 yards on 12 carries. “Coming out and being able to establish a run against these guys carried over to the whole team.”
After going scoreless for nearly 18 minutes, it was the running game getting in gear that helped Tech rally from a 10-0 deficit.
After a 14-yard pass to senior wide receiver Eric Ward for a first down, the Red Raiders decided to try the run. It worked so well that one run turned into eight straight running calls for 61 yards.
“We just were having good movement,” Kingsbury said. “We were getting good information from (the assistant coaches) up top, and they were saying runs were there so we kept going with it.”
Williams ran for 9 yards, and senior running back Sadale Foster followed with a 22-yard gain.
Foster then ran for 8 more yards, and Williams followed with four straight runs for 7, 8, 1 and 4-yard gains respectively, setting the Texas Tech offense up at theKansas6.
“There were a lot of cut-back lanes during that drive,” Williams said. “If it’s working, why stop?”
The Red Raiders settled for a field goal, but the running attack provided a spark that began a scoring streak of 54 straight points, 10 scoring drives, before KU scored again late in the game.
“It was pretty exciting,”Washingtonsaid.
Running the football not only provided a spark but another dimension to Tech’s offense.
In the first quarter, Tech ran it three times in 22 plays. After that, the Red Raiders went to the run 40 times.
Tech’s 114 rushing yards would have looked much better, but a handful of errant snaps late in the game led to nearly 50 yards lost in the rushing column.
“I think we got things going,”Washingtonsaid. “We were kind of slow in the first half, but we were able to get some things going in the second half and kind of tempo them. You could kind of see it wear them down toward the second half of the game.”
Washingtonsaid once the Raiders found something that worked, they stayed with it.
“We were actually running a lot of zone,”Washingtonsaid. “There was one drive we probably ran zone about six times in a row; I think we got eight to 10 yards a carry. A lot of the inside plays worked for us today.”
Williams led Texas Tech with 42 yards followed by Foster with 34, freshman Quinton White with 25, Mayfield with 23 and Washington with 16.
Washingtonscored two touchdowns in a game for the first time in his career, and Williams and Mayfield rushed for a touchdown apiece.
“It felt good,”Washingtonsaid. “Being comfortable going to the o-line. We couldn’t have done it without those guys.”
Tech came into the game ranked No. 106 in rushing offense. The offensive line was helped Saturday by the return of guard Beau Carpenter, who had been out with an ankle sprain since the fourth quarter of the season opener
“That was great to see those guys,” Kingsbury said of the running backs. “The O-line had some great movement, and those backs, once they get a crease, they can make it go. We lost almost 50 yards rushing on those (bad) snaps so it won’t look very good, but that was huge to really get us comfortable and get the quarterbacks in a rhythm.”