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August 24, 2010

Raiders' backfield is deep and talented

The 2010 edition of the Texas Tech Red Raiders offense will remind many of the high-scoring juggernaut units that fans in southwest Texas are accustomed to seeing. The one element of the offense that will be slightly adjusted will be the amount of carries from the backfield.

That is good news for Texas Tech's leading rushing from a year ago, Baron Batch, and the group of backs that will help form one of Tech's deepest backfields in recent memory.

"The biggest difference is you will see these guys a lot more than you did in the past," running backs coach Chad Scott said. "We will have a lot of situations where you will see Baron Batch and Eric Stephens on the field at the same time."

Batch led the team last season with 884 yards on the ground on 168 carries while also leading the team with 15 touchdowns (14 rushing). His rushing yards placed him seventh in the Big 12 Conference and he finished second in the league in touchdowns while earning honorable mention All-Big 12.

Also returning in the backfield for the Red Raiders are Eric Stephens (So.) and Harrison Jeffers (So.), who combined for 471 yards last season on 84 carries. The returning duo also tallied six touchdowns, four of which came from Jeffers.

PLAYERS IN THE MIX (NUMERICAL)

#10 Harrison Jeffers (5-7, 201, So./1L)

#20 Josh Talbott (6-0, 201, Fr./Sq)

#24 Eric Stephens (5-8, 192, So./1L)

#25 Baron Batch (5-10, 210, Sr./3L)

#31 Tim Graves (5-9, 170, Fr./HS)

#32 Aaron Crawford (5-10, 205, Jr./1L)

#34 Ben McRoy (5-9, 160, Fr./HS)

#36 Gerardo Acevedo (6-1, 212, Sr./1L)

#37 Andre McCorkle (6-1, 210, Sr./Sq)

BIG GAME BATCH

Baron Batch produced some big games during his junior season, which includes rushing for a career-high four touchdowns against Kansas (10/31) and tallying a career-best 136 yards on 25 carries with two touchdowns against one of the top defenses in the nation, Oklahoma (11/21). Entering the 2009 season, Batch had yet to notch a 100-yard rushing performance, that all changed as he logged four of them all after week three. Batch finished off his junior campaign with a memorable Alamo Bowl where he scored twice, including the final score which put Tech up 10 points with 2:08 remaining. Batch led the Red Raiders in the Alamo Bowl rushing for 101 yards on 22 carries.

HE'S HERE, HE'S THERE, HE'S EVERYWHERE

Not only a threat to defenses on the ground, sophomore back Eric Stephens will also hurt teams by catching passes out of the backfield and in the kicking game as a return specialist. He totaled 136 all-purpose yards in the Red Raiders' bowl victory over Michigan State as he rushed for 31 yards, caught three passes for 33 yards and returned three kickoffs for 72 yards. In fact, Stephens cruised by the school's all-time single-season return yardage mark recording 823 yards on 32 returns as a freshman. The previous record - set in 1990 - was 621 yards by Rodney Blackshear. His 32 returns are a school record and Stephens also set the school record for return yards in a single-game with 182 against Texas (9/19).

JEFFERS MADE AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT FOR TECH

It didn't take long for Harrison Jeffers to have his name called in the Texas Tech offense as a redshirt freshman in 2009 as he led the team in rushing in only his second collegiate game. Jeffers made an impact for the Red Raiders both rushing the ball out of the backfield and in the receiving game as well. He caught five passes for 39 yards in his college debut against North Dakota (9/5) and he matched his season-high five receptions in week five against New Mexico (9/26) where he marked a season-best 90 yards through the air against the Lobos. Jeffers carried four times for 57 yards against Houston while reaching the end zone for his first collegiate touchdown. He had a breakthrough performance against New Mexico with not only his 90-yards receiving, but also scoring four touchdowns (three rushing).

DON'T FORGET ABOUT CRAWFORD

Aaron Crawford received a medical redshirt in 2008 after appearing in just two games. He then played in 10 games last season. But it was as a true freshman in 2007 when Crawford had a breakthrough campaign. He was second on the team in rushing yards (450) and rushing touchdowns (4) and became the first true freshman at Tech since the start of the decade to score four touchdowns in a game (at Baylor - 11/3/07). His 29-yard rush against Colorado in 2007 marked the longest by a Red Raider for the season.



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