Seth Doege often comes back to the same word when describing redshirt freshman offensive guard Le’Raven Clark.
“He’s a beast,” Doege says.
The Texas Tech senior quarterback described a particular play in which, time and time again, the 6-foot-5, 303-pound Clark will leave onlookers with dropped jaws.
“He’ll keep up with (inside receiver) Jakeem (Grant) on the speed sweep,” Doege said this week. “It’s incredible to watch.”
Clark’s play as a first-year starter at right guard has been a key ingredient to Tech’s success along the offensive front through the first half of the season. The No. 18 Red Raiders entered the season with experience at both tackle positions (LaAdrian Waddle, Terry McDaniel) and center (Deveric Gallington), but the guards were less proven.
In addition to Clark, guards Beau Carpenter and Alfredo Morales entered the season with little to no starting experience, though Carpenter did play in eight games last season. Those two players have rotated at the left guard position, with Carpenter, who has recovered from a concussion he suffered in fall camp, receiving the bulk of the snaps against West Virginia last week.
“Both of them were called to step up,” Doege said, “and I think they both answered the challenge each and every week of doing their job. They’ve been a huge factor for our offense and O-line, and they’ll continue to improve and be big-time players here.”
Meantime, Clark’s athleticism has been on display since he arrived in Lubbock from Rockdale, where he played football and basketball. He was a skilled forward who dunked for the first time as an eighth grader.
“It comes from my family,” the reserved Clark said of his athletic prowess.
The genes tell the story. Six of Clark’s relatives have played sports at either the college or professional level. It wouldn’t surprise Tommy Tuberville if Clark joined the latter group.
“He has as much potential as any lineman I’ve ever seen,” the Tech coach said. “If he stays healthy and keeps his attitude, he’s going to be something to watch over the next couple, three years.
But Clark doesn’t rely solely on his speed and quickness, Tuberville said, though those attributes certainly don’t hurt. During his Monday press conference, the Tuberville lauded Clark’s ability to “understand that it’s a fight every down. You’ve just got to fight hard and push to the ball.”
Added Waddle, the senior left tackle: “He goes hard every day, and that’s what makes him a good player.”
Clark and the rest of the Tech offensive line is in for a big test against a TCU defensive front that has wreaked havoc this season.
The two teams kick off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Forth Worth, a high stakes battle featuring squads with identical 5-1 (2-1 in Big 12 Conference) records.
TCU freshman defensive end Devonte Fields leads the Big 12 in sacks (6.5) and tackles for loss (11.5). Stansly Maponga has been a disruptive force at the other end position, but his status for Saturday’s game will be a game-time decision, according to reports.
The Horned Frogs have intercepted a Football Bowl Subdivision-leading 14 interceptions this season, and the pressure applied from the defensive front and TCU’s blitz packages has played a key role in that success.
Waddle said he and his line mates are looking forward to the challenge of facing a talented defensive line. The senior knows how good the Tech offense can be if it gives Doege — who threw for 499 yards and six touchdowns last week — the extra split-second he needs.
“When he let him throw,” Waddle said, “you see what he can do.”
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