• Comment

Marquez's move to slot could last for a while

Coaches free up playing time for top prospect Davis

Posted: December 17, 2013 - 8:10pm  |  Updated: December 18, 2013 - 1:14am
Back | Next
Marquez  Michael Strong Photography
Michael Strong Photography
Marquez
Get your A-J Media Digital Subscription now!
Get your A-J Media Digital Subscription now!

 

Texas Tech deployed its top four receivers in virtually unchanged fashion for the first 11 games of the season with Eric Ward and Bradley Marquez on the outside and Jace Amaro and Jakeem Grant on the inside.

That changed in the regular-season finale when Marquez moved into the slot, freeing up a first career start for redshirt freshman Reginald Davis at flanker. Marquez’s position switch had the added effect of bumping Grant from the starting lineup, which raised eyebrows.

And it appears likely to stay that way for the Holiday Bowl and possibly into spring football.

“It’s just a thing where (Marquez) was playing really good and Reginald Davis was playing really good,” co-offensive coordinator Eric Morris said this week. “We thought competition was the best thing there, and we try to get our best four players on the field at any time.

“He (Marquez) is a smart kid and could handle it. We wanted a little bit bigger body for run blocking. The inside receivers play such an important role in our run game.”

Marquez is 5-foot-11, 200 pounds and has a reputation for being a good blocker. Grant’s 5-6, 163 and more often makes his mark with the ball in his hands. Both at the “H” inside receiver spot.

The arrangement was something coaches wanted to try, and might be spurring Grant to reclaim the job.

“The best thing that’s happened for it is Jakeem Grant’s come out the last two weeks and responded,” Morris said. “He’s had the best two weeks of practice he’s had since I’ve been here. It’s just a little bit of competition for those two guys (Marquez and Grant) so no one’s comfortable. I think both those kids are going to be really good players. We’re happy to have them back next year.”

Grant, with 59 receptions, 707 yards and five touchdowns, ranks fifth in the Big 12 in receptions per game and seventh in receiving yards per game. His numbers slot third best on the team, just ahead of Marquez, who has 46 catches, 566 yards and five TDs.

Davis was one of the team’s most highly regarded 2012 signees, considered a national-caliber recruit. He’s shown some of his big-play ability already this season, both as a receiver and as a return man, turning three of his 14 receptions into touchdowns and returning a kickoff for 52 yards.

But that came in snippets of playing time.

The move helped get him more extended time in the regular-season finale at Texas and could have the same effect in the future.

Grant played at Texas, but didn’t catch a pass.

Morris said Grant had done nothing to get in the doghouse with coaches.

“No, not at all,” he said. “Jakeem’s a great kid and has made a lot of electric plays. This is a what have you done for me lately. Not that he had played bad, by any means.

“But just like anything, we’re trying to put our best personnel on the field. And so Jakeem is still going to play an important part and role in this offense, and he’s going to get a lot more touches in years to come.”

Morris coached the inside receivers throughout the regular season. He’s taken over all four receiver positions with the departure of fellow co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie to TCU.

Tech (7-5) plays No. 16 Arizona State (10-3) on Dec. 30 in the Holiday Bowl. After that, Morris will have some decisions to make about which receivers to slot where for spring practice and the 2014 season.

Asked if Marquez could stay in the slot during spring practice, Morris said, “Yeah. We’ll see what happens. We’re finally to a spot where these kids are starting to know this offense in and out, where you can pick your best four or your best eight receivers and get them on the field somehow.

“You don’t want to have guys stacked behind each other when two of your best guys are at one position. It’s never a good thing, so it’s a thing where you’ve got to compete every single day, learn to compete and come out here and challenge yourself, and the best guy will be on the field.”

 

don.williams@lubbockonline.com

• 766-8734

Follow Don on Twitter

@AJ_DonWilliams

 

College football

Who: Texas Tech vs. Arizona State

When: 9:15 p.m. CST Dec. 30

Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego

Records: Texas Tech 7-5, 4-5 in the Big 12; Arizona State 10-3, 8-1 in the Pac-12.

Rankings (BCS/AP/coaches poll): Texas Tech unranked; Arizona State 14/16/17.

Last game: Texas 41, Texas Tech 16; Stanford 38, Arizona State 14.

Last meeting: Arizona State 31, Texas Tech in 1999 at Tempe, Ariz.

TV: ESPN (Suddenlink Cable channel 31)

Line: Arizona State by 14.

  • Comment