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In Williams, Tuberville sees similarities to two NFL running backs

Kenny Williams is the team's leading rusher with 241 yards at an average of 7.1 per carry.

Posted: September 17, 2012 - 10:51pm  |  Updated: September 18, 2012 - 12:09am
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Texas Tech's Kenny Williams, left, is tackled by New Mexico's Javarie Johnson during the Red Raiders' 49-14 win Saturday.
Texas Tech's Kenny Williams, left, is tackled by New Mexico's Javarie Johnson during the Red Raiders' 49-14 win Saturday.
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Before football season started, Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville compared young running back Kenny Williams to Ronnie Brown, who he coached at Auburn. On Monday, Tuberville said Williams reminds him of Ben Tate, another running back from Tuberville’s time at Auburn.

Both are high praise. Brown was an NFL first-round draft choice in 2005, Tate a second-round pick in 2010. After missing 2010 with a broken ankle, Tate debuted last year rushing for 942 yards as a backup to All-Pro Arian Foster with the Houston Texans.

Williams, a 5-foot-9, 219-pound sophomore, is similar size-wise to the two Auburn exes, Brown being 230 pounds and Tate 220. But Williams is bigger than any Red Raiders feature back in more than a decade.

“He’s a good inside and outside runner, but he’s a physical guy,” Tuberville said. “He’d much rather run over you than run around you.”

Williams, part of a three-man running back rotation with Eric Stephens and SaDale Foster, is the team’s leading rusher with 241 yards at an average of 7.1 per carry. He carried 14 times for 105 yards Saturday in Tech’s 49-14 rout of New Mexico.

Tuberville said Williams has become less of a liability on passing downs, because he’s improved his hands and his pass blocking.

“He gives us a different look and a different weapon to use,” Tuberville said. “I wish we could have redshirted him last year, but it’s given him a lot of confidence going into this year. I was proud of him Saturday, getting his first 100-yard game. It won’t be his last.”

Wake the punter

When Texas Tech failed to convert a third-and-18 in the middle of the fourth quarter Saturday night, Tech coach Tommy Tuberville wasn’t too upset.

The Red Raiders had gone the equivalent of nine full quarters without having to punt. With 71/2 minutes left in the game, they sent out Ryan Erxleben for the second time this season.

“I was actually glad we didn’t make the first down Saturday night, where we could work on our punt team,” Tuberville said Monday. “We’re obviously going to have to punt a lot more times going into the Big 12 games.”

That’s probably the reality. What Tech has done so far — one punt apiece against Northwestern State and New Mexico, none against Texas State — is a rate difficult to sustain. But Tuberville and offensive coordinator Neal Brown can hope the offense keeps putting itself in good situations.

Tech’s third-down conversion rate — 25 of 40 for 62.5 percent — is second-best in the nation.

“The big thing is we’ve been able to gain a lot of yards on first down and stayed out of third-and-long situations,” Tuberville said. “We have converted some third-and-longs, which kept us away from punting, but we’ve had a lot of third-and-medium, third-and-shorts, which we’ve been able to convert a lot easier. It makes you a better play caller when you’re in third-and-2 instead of third-and-8, 9 or 10. I think that’s been a big part of our success.”

None of the other 119 teams in major-college football has punted two or fewer times, and TCU and West Virginia are the only others with as few as three punts.

Groundswell
of support

Regardless of the competition, Tech’s 325 rushing yards Saturday night raised some eyebrows. It was Tech’s highest single-game total in 14 years and moved the Red Raiders to No. 25 in the nation in rushing offense.

“I think it gives us a little credibility,” Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said, “but we’ve got to be able to do some of it when we get into the Big 12, and that’ll start next week.”

Tech’s big rushing game didn’t come at the expense of the passing offense as Seth Doege threw a career-high six touchdown passes and he and Michael Brewer combined for 377 yards through the air.

Supplementing the air attack with a stronger running game has been a priority of Tuberville’s from the day he took the job in January 2010.

“We’ve put a lot more emphasis on it, because we’ve got more running backs this year,” he said. “Our offensive line’s become a lot more physical. We really stressed it in spring practice and two-a-days, because we want to throw play-action (passes) off of it, and you can’t throw play-action off a running game unless you establish one.”

Reynolds out
for season

Backup cornerback Jeremy Reynolds will miss the rest of the season with the right knee injury he suffered in Saturday’s game, Tech spokesman Blayne Beal said Monday.

Beal said the injury is a sprain.

Reynolds, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound redshirt freshman from Greensboro, N.C., was injured covering a kickoff that teammate Ola Falemi recovered.

Reynolds made his first interception in week two at Texas State.

Tech-ISU set

The start time for the Sept. 29 Tech-Iowa State game has been set for 6 p.m. with Fox College Sports televising the game nationally. Both teams are 3-0 with an open date this week.

To comment on this story:

don.williams@lubbockonline.com

• 766-8734

george.watson@lubbockonline.com

• 766-2166

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The real deal-

Mr Williams certainly has the size and speed to be very successful in both the college and NFL levels. Next comes experience and confidence and laying it out there when need be- I've felt since I say him day one he would be a big success at Raiderland. I hope he continues to get better and becomes a huge success for us. We need both him and the offensive line to be more physical and even a little nasty - ok - real nasty. This next game with ISU is gonna be on natl tv. I've said all along it would be our most impt game of the year and I feel that is still true. I sure hope the young men continue to get better and progress to be the champs I know THEY CAN BE !!!

Wreck em Raiders! Beat the hell outta the cyclones and let em know who ya are!!!

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Flash Lite is Right

There is no doubt this is the most important game of the year.

Winning this game sets the tone for EVERYTHING.

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