LUBBOCK, Texas — Baron Batch doesn’t really have a
preference on who his starting quarterback is next
season at Texas Tech.
The senior running back from Midland sees a lot of solid
qualities in both seniors Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield, as the two
continue to square off for the starting job under center.
Batch says both show leadership on and off the field, have a
calm demeanor with an intensity to win and can hurl a ball downfield without
He is looking for just one thing.
“I want the one who hands the ball off really well,” Batch
said with a laugh. “That’s important to me.”
No matter who comes out on top of the QB battle before
Tech’s Sept. 5 kickoff against SMU, many now realize that the handoff will be a
key trait of the offense this season, allowing Batch the chance to run wild and
add more intensity to the new “Air Raid” offense under first-year head coach
Tommy Tuberville and offensive coordinator Neal
Both Tuberville and Brown have
sworn since day one that the offense will be the same at Tech.
“Who wants to change it?” Tuberville
said shortly after being hired. “We just want to add a few more things to it.
But the concept is still the same. Score a lot of points.”
The Red Raiders were actually beginning to move toward more
running near the end of last season anyways. Batch become more than just a
safety route or fourth option out of the backfield on passing plays. He was now
beginning to break open some runs and score. If anything, the added attention
Batch gained helped Sheffield and Potts find more receivers open. Suddenly,
Tech was a 56-44 pass-run team under former pass-happy head coach Mike Leach.
Leach used to shutter at a stat sheet that showed running as
the majority leader of the play calling — following a win or a loss. And
after last season’s success in the backfield with newcomers Harrison Jeffers
and Eric Stephens, plus a now healthy Aaron Crawford, Batch said the running
backs really have a chance to do more and be more effective.
“If anything, it just means having more depth,” Batch said.
“You never know what’s going to happen in a practice or a game. But with this
many guys who all have experience, you have that ability to sub in someone if I
go down or Aaron goes down — whoever.”
Nobody knows more about coming off the field and bouncing
back than Batch, who suffered two injuries in his first two years at Tech. He
recently underwent surgery two months ago on a hernia in his groin; something
he admits had been causing him pain for quite some time — possibly all of
“It just felt like this sharp pain every now and then,” he
said. “It would go away and then come back and go away again. I think it may
have been like that all of last year, at least the last 10 games.
“Finally, it got to a point where I just didn’t feel that
extra gear kick in when I wanted to take it to the house on a run or a screen. So
I finally went and had it looked at and now I feel better than I did two years
That’s saying something if the Batch we saw last season was
not a completely healthy player.
Batch led all Tech running backs with 168 carries for 903
yards and 14 touchdowns — all career highs. He had three 100-yard and
multiple touchdown games for the first time in his career at Tech, including
games of four and two touchdowns against Kansas and Oklahoma, respectively,
where he had 340 yards of total offense.
But last season was a little bitter for Batch. He’s trying
to help Tech get to its first BCS game before he leaves West Texas and he
wouldn’t mind being the first Red Raider running back to rush for 1,000 yards
since Ricky Williams (1,582 yards) did it in 1998. Batch and former Tech
running back Shannon Woods (926 yards in 2006) are the only two Red Raiders to
rush for more than 900 yards in a season in the last 10 years.
Again, it’s why that handoff is so important to him.
“I think we have a chance to do a lot this year,” Batch
said. “We just have to keep working, keep believing and take advantage of those
opportunities when they come to us.”
More on Baron Batch next week.
Travis Cram is the Managing Editor for RaiderPower.com. Follow his
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