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What's Texas Tech's Secret Weapon on Offense in 2022?

When looking back at Zach Kittley's offense at Western Kentucky, there's a secret weapon to the team's production

One could argue for Texas Tech to be an efficient offense in 2022, it'll need to pass. Perhaps since new offensive coordinator Zach Kittley runs a similar offense to that of former head coach Kliff Kingsbury. 

It's the players that find ways to be effective in a pinch that separates good teams from great ones. The Red Raiders surprisingly have perhaps the Big 12's most underrated combo in their backfield with senior running back SaRodrick Thompson and junior Tahj Brooks. 

Brooks and Thompson were limited in their overall production, especially when offensive coordinator Sonnie Cumbie took over for the fired Matt Wells midseason. That said, when the Red Raiders elected to trust their rushing attack, the team often finished with positive results. 

Thompson, who started most games during 2020, had five contests of over 12 rushing attempts and averaged 5.1 yards per carry. In games he recorded 10 or more carries, he recorded eight of his 10 total rushing touchdowns. 

Brooks, the team's leader in rushing yards, recorded four games of 10-plus carries. Unlike Thompson, those games often ended with Brooks surpassing the 100-yard marker on the regular. Three of his four games ended in the triple digits. Five of his seven touchdowns also came during those outings. 

When looking at Western Kentucky's offense last season, the running backs often were used in a similar pattern. Noah Whittington, the Hilltoppers' leading rusher, finished with 101 carries. Adam Cofield, the team's No. 2, finished with 87 attempts. 

Cofield, who finished with fewer yards, recorded more 10-plus rushing attempts per game than Whittington. Whittington made up for the loss of carries per game with yards per attempt, averaging 6.1 compared to Cofield's 4.6. 

Brooks finished with fewer carries but more games of 10-plus carries than Thompson. Meanwhile, Thompson scored more touchdowns, similar to Whittington at WKU. 

The offense will cater toward either Donovan Smith or Tyler Shough commanding the huddle, but a stable run game could do wonders for Kittley early. He has a similar set of running back to that at Western Kentucky. The duos also match in size and frame, thus allocating certain carries based on the play at hand. 

Kittley's offense finished No. 2 in total yards and No. 1 in passing under Kittley's direction. His 1-2 combination in the run game eventually played a factor in the Hilltoppers' flight to the Conference USA Championship. 

There's a formula in place for Kittley to help the Red Raiders' offense reach new heights in his first season. The answer? Thompson and Brooks. 

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