There’s a football saying that the backup quarterback is the most popular player on the team. This week at Texas Tech, the most popular player might be the third-string running back.
Quinton White’s five mostly flashy carries for 71 yards in the second half of Saturday’s 61-13 victory against Stephen F. Austin had some Tech fans advocating more playing time for the redshirt freshman, especially after the lackluster rushing game the Red Raiders displayed the week before at SMU.
Tech running backs coach Mike Jinks isn’t deaf to the chatter.
“I’ve heard that a bunch,” Jinks said, with a grin, on Monday.
White had a 5-yard touchdown run that made the score 54-7, one on which he made a terrific cutback behind a defensive end and then a spin move toward the end zone. Jinks loved the cut because it demonstrated White’s vision — his best asset, his coach says.
The spin move, Jinks can do without. Fans love it. Then again, they’re not the ones accountable if the guy doing the spin gets lit up by a defender or fumbles because of lax ball security. White lost a fumble inside the 10-yard line in the spring game, the kind of thing a coach remembers longer than anyone else.
Back in June, when we were talking about the running backs and came to White, Jinks said, “He has great lateral movement, an unbelievable spin move — that I hate, that we’ve got to get him to quit doing.”
When I reminded Jinks of that comment on Monday, he said, “At times, in the spring game, we put it on the ground. Same thing. It’s a high-risk, high-reward type deal. But he’s a good player and he has a place.”
I should point out that all of White’s touches Saturday night came after his team was 40 points ahead. So he wasn’t even getting his yards against the fired-up version of an FCS team that went 5-6 last year. That’s also an indicator of where coaches’ level of trust with White is compared to their trust in Kenny Williams and DeAndre Washington.
That’s no knock on White. Williams and Washington have been here longer and proved themselves in Big 12 games.
Jinks said the best thing he took from White’s performance Saturday is he made plays when given playing time. On the series after he scored the touchdown, White threw in a 38-yard run during which he made a linebacker look silly — freezing the guy in his tracks, then darting past him.
“I’m happy for Quinton,” Jinks said. “He got in, and when he had an opportunity to make some runs, he did. He’s got some quickness, and he’s got a place on this team. So we look forward to seeing him develop and grow and be a great contributor to the Red Raiders.”
White’s 5-foot-8, 200 pounds with powerful thighs and some pretty electric quickness. The kind of moves he made in garbage time Saturday against SFA, you figure he’ll make eventually at key moments in Big 12 games.
It’s up to Jinks to judge how soon he’s ready for that. It’s up to White to deliver the day-to-day consistency and accountability in practice that his coach demands.
“It’s just being consistent in your blitz pickups, your protections, things of that nature,” Jinks said. “Especially with what we do, that’s huge.”
Follow Don on Twitter