No one disputes that with Bradley Marquez being a novice wide receiver, his route running needs polish. Texas Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown volunteers that information, and Marquez agrees.
So how is it that when the Red Raiders have faced third down this season, no one’s been more reliable than the sophomore from Odessa?
“I’ve got a lot of trust in him,” Brown said, “and I think our quarterbacks do, too. On and off the field, he’s a trustworthy guy. On his routes, he’s where he’s supposed to be and he’s got a knack for making plays.
“He’s got a lot of room to grow as far as a route runner. He’s still raw in that regard, just because this is only the second year he’s ever done it. But he makes a lot of plays.”
Through three games, the converted running back leads Tech in receptions with 12 and ranks second with 135 receiving yards. Five of the catches have converted third-down plays, and Marquez shares the team lead in that category with running back Kenny Williams.
It could have been six third-down conversions for Marquez, but another one of his catches was called back by a penalty.
Marquez credits his success on third down to coaches making astute calls, choosing the right plays to counter the defensive look and the situation. And he bears down on third down.
“That’s just something I’m trying to be consistent with and be that guy,” he said.
Marquez’s longest reception to move the chains on a third down covered only 13 yards. Generally speaking, they’ve been short throws that converted manageable situations.
“The ones early, just out routes,” he said. “Out routes at different depths, and just running a good route, basically.”
The Red Raiders have converted 25 of 40 third-down situations. Their 62.5 percent ratio is second-bet in the nation. Sixteen such conversions have come on passes by Seth Doege.
The senior quarterback said he has a high level of trust in Marquez, earned to a large extent by his approach in practice.
“I really trust Bradley because he plays so hard,” Doege said. “He’s kind of like a center fielder, even in football. Anywhere you throw it, he’s going to get to it. He makes tremendous catches and is a great effort guy during practice. A guy that sells out for you in practice you know is going to sell out for you in a game.”
With that sort of work ethic, odds are Marquez can shore up the areas of his game that need work.
Marquez calls route running the weakest part of his game.
“Anybody that’s seen me and knows me really well, especially these coaches, they know that’s something I’ve got to work on,” he said. “Some of these guys have been receivers their whole lives, maybe four or five years. This is barely my second year being a receiver, so it’s still an adjustment for me. I’m not the best at it right now, but I try to make up for it with my playmaking ability.”
Marquez’s quick start is all the more impressive, given that he’s played different positions in the Tech offense. With Eric Ward, Darrin Moore and Marcus Kennard all sitting out at least one of the first three games, Marquez has had to play both split end and flanker — outside receiver spots on opposite sides of the field.
He learned the plays from both sides during preseason practice, which has made it easier.
“I guess they feel comfortable with me being able to switch to both,” he said. “I feel comfortable. I don’t feel like it’s any dropoff in my play. It’s just basically mirroring, on the opposite side, the routes and stuff. To me, it’s not difficult at all.”
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