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Red Raiders train wideouts to jazz up running game

Posted: April 24, 2012 - 10:58pm  |  Updated: April 25, 2012 - 12:41am
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Jakeem Grant is a  receiver first, but he is one of several players Texas Tech coaches want to use to augment the rushing game.  Zach Long
Zach Long
Jakeem Grant is a receiver first, but he is one of several players Texas Tech coaches want to use to augment the rushing game.
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Jakeem Grant, Javares McRoy and Javon Bell are all receivers, and all handled the football on rushing plays during last month’s Texas Tech Red-Black Game.

That was one twist on the offense the Red Raiders made a priority throughout spring practice.

“We were trying to get some non-traditional guys carries,” offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. “That’s something we’ve got to do. We’ve got to get Javares. We’ve got to get Jakeem. Eric Ward, Javon Bell, we’ve got to get guys like that involved in the run game, because we can be more productive with our carries.”

Before spring practice, Brown used Oregon standout De’Anthony Thomas as an example of a hybrid-style player he wants to develop. Thomas was the only player in major-college football last season with 500-plus yards apiece rushing, receiving and returning kicks.

Several times this spring, slot receivers such as Grant and Javares McRoy would go in motion pre-snap, then take a sweep handoff or forward flip pass and try to beat pursuit to the edge. In the Red-Black Game, Grant had an 11-yard run, Bell a 9-yard run and McRoy an 8-yard run. They each got a few more touches via forward passes as they motioned across the backfield.

All three players have a reputation for speed, so plays such as those are a guaranteed way to get them the ball.

Brown said having that dimension last year might have helped after running backs Eric Stephens and DeAndre Washington suffered season-ending knee injuries.

“Our No. 1 goal was to improve in the run game,” Brown said. “We made some gains. I don’t think we’re necessarily there yet. (Tight end Jace) Amaro has become a lot better blocker, which has been one of the best things that came out of the spring was his run blocking was really improved.

“And I wanted to work with some of those non-traditional carries — getting Javares involved and Javon and Jakeem — and that’s been a plus.”

The 5-foot-6, 163-pound Grant and the 5-7, 166-pound McRoy ended spring listed 2-3 behind Austin Zouzalik at “H” inside receiver. Both redshirted in the fall.

The 6-foot, 184-pound Bell joined the team at mid-term. Brown recently said Bell or senior split end Marcus Kennard could redshirt to reduce the impact of losing five senior receivers to graduation after the 2012 season.

By getting receivers accustomed to handling the ball out of the backfield, the Red Raiders give themselves more options if Stephens and-or Washington have trouble coming back from major knee surgeries.

Stephens was an offensive hub last season with four 100-yard rushing performances in the first five games before he suffered a season-ending injury.

“Hopefully, he can come back,” Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said Monday. “He’s doing great in the weight room. He’s not running and cutting yet full speed. They say that’s going to be until June 1, and so we’ll have to wait and see from June 1 ’til the first of August to see how far along he comes.”


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tha haters must dont see this article

i think its good that oc brown wants to add another dimension to the offense.it'll give teams somethin else to prepare for and gice our speed guys more touches to make an explosive play. Look out BIG 12. I also think dc kaufman will have the defense ready to at least stop somebody when it counts. Key players on the D-line and in the lb corps have added some size and strength and it isnt even summer yet so i expect us 2 be the suprise team this year like k-state was last season.


Non-Traditional Carries

I never heard that giving the ball to a receiver on a running play was a "non-traditional" play. Since it has been done since the advent of football, I presume that Coach Brown is trying to find a way to sound cutting edge. If only his offensive calls were close to cutting edge, we would be much more successful. I grow a bit weary of verbage. This sounds much like his comment last fall that his "goal" was to run 75 or 80, or however many, plays per game. That was his goal. How about a goal of scoring points, and winning, regardless of an exact number of plays. How about some solid action, and positive results, on the field, and fewer comments that sound a bit ridiculous.



i'm kinda burned out on surprises.

most of them have been the bad kind since that bad one on the Alamo Bowl trip.

but it is interesting. yawn. i can hardly wait to see what happens next. hmmm.


I think they were all backs

I think they were all backs in the beginning of football until the rules required x number of players on the line of scrimmage. That would have been backs handling the ball out of the backfield. Not that receivers haven't been handling the ball out of the backfield for a long time.


Really, Techsan13?

WRs carrying the ball on running plays is not unheard of, but they are still considered non-traditional plays. WRs carry the ball less than 2% of all running plays.

Take the Cowboys, for instance. In 2011 they ran a total of 408 rushing plays. WRs carried the ball 5 of those plays, or 1.22%. Okay, we're talking about college football now. University of Oregon led the NCAA in rushing last year. They ran a total of 629 running plays. WRs carried the ball a whopping EIGHT TIMES!!! I guess the folks trying to spin this will say that since WRs carry the ball on 1.27% of running plays that it's therefore more "traditional" in the college game.

Would you have reacted the same way had Brown said "unorthodox", or "uncommon", instead of "non-traditional"? You really want to make a fool of yourself over semantics?

Material must be getting pretty thin over at the Team Leach...er, I mean Neal Brown Haters Society meetings.


Sorry For This Factual Informatiion

Once upon a time there was a wide receiver named Wes Welker. Wes played for an innovative coach who put Tech on the map. The coach was fired by a group of Wanna be Popes who did not understand why the coach did not kiss their ring(s). Anyway, this fella Welker would take the ball on a wide receiver reverse and run all the way down to the other end with the ball.

Did it a lot with punts, too.

Did it with passes, too.

So, you see, we've seen this before. The difference being, it worked.

And we won't see it again for many years to come.



When you employ the term "haters," are you referring to those that avoid delusion?

Is a "hater" a person who will not follow a liar lockstep over a cliff?

Just wondering.


im done

im not responding to negative people or negative comments directed towards me or the team. Our coaches make millions of dollars and it'll take me 8 to 10 years to even make that much so ttu football is not that important to me but i support the team. I didnt like the way this country was led from the year 2000 to 2008 and i dont love it now but i still support my country. I pay none of their salaries and i can careless or have a sleepless night worried about a supposedly "nuclear winter." You are entilted to your opinions whether they ignorant or make a "little" sense. Say what u want!


Move one to RB permanently

We need more talent at RB considering the bad luck we have had there. Why not switch one over now instead of running the ball on gimmicky plays from the slot or wideout positions?


How 'bout this

How about we make sure these receivers catch the ball before we start experimenting with non traditional plays. You know, the basics? Throw it down field and catch it, the way we used to. A lot.

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