Dec 28, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota Gophers offensive lineman Zac Epping (52) blocks Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive end Kerry Hyder (91) during the first half of the Meineke Car Care Bowl at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Players to Watch - Texas Tech Red Raiders

The Red Raiders welcome back one their most notable players in history as their new head coach in Kliff Kingsbury. Kingsbury will bring an exciting offense to Lubbock but expect to see an improvement on the defensive side after a year spent in the SEC with Texas A&M last year. Replacing Seth Doege is task number one but there are very few college quarterback coaches as good as Kingbury which means Red Raider fans should expect plenty of points on the board and excitement back to Lubbock.

#91 – Kerry Hyder – DT
6’2” – 280 lbs. – SR

The Red Raiders are a team that has always seemed to be in the headlines the past five or six years and this year is no different with Kingsbury taking over but don’t expect the Red Raiders only to rely on offense when they have a beast in the middle such as Hyder who accumulated 14.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks during his junior campaign ending in several All-Big 12 selections including the AP. Hyder has played in 36 games with 28 of those as a starter during his three year playing career.

Strengths – Hyder possess a raw mix of explosion and power coming off the line. He is able to push the offensive lineman deep into the backfield forcing the runner to cut back or stop which led to many of his tackle of losses. He has good arm length and punches as his feet are moving creating contact first with the offensive player. Hyder is an athletic player at his size and shows great ability to move laterally and chase down the runner when the play is going away from him.

Weaknesses – Hyder has lined up as a defensive end in the 3-4 look and the defensive tackle in the 4-3 look. He is more natural as a true tackle but will get caught stand up off the line and relying on his brute strength to control the offensive lineman which causes problems when they send a double to attack him as he looks like he is on skates. Hyder is a power player and relies on a bull rush or a dip move to attack the backfield. He will need to develop a counter move to be more effective at the next level.

Overall – A defensive lineman should not be seen staying lateral or going backward more than moving forward and Hyder is a player that has the power and explosiveness to move the pile into the backfield regularly. He uses his hands very well to engage the offensive player with a strong punch and with his strength is able to push him to side making the play in the backfield. He will need to continue on working to stay low continually off the ball as he is bound to see plenty of double teams this upcoming season for the Red Raiders. Expect Hyder to make noise as the season goes on and move up plenty of draft boards as a defensive tackle.

#34 – Kenny Williams – RB
5’9” – 225 lbs. – JR

With more and more running backs leaving early, Williams is a strong candidate to follow in these footsteps after an honorable mention Big 12 season as a true sophomore in 2012 where he accumulated 824 yards with a 5.7 yard per carry average for the Red Raiders. Williams is expected to be the featured running back this year for the Red Raiders and with a new quarterback and head coach, he will be relied upon to keep the chains moving and the offense on the field for this high octane offense.

Strengths – All good running backs have great vision and see the hole quickly and are able to plant and explode through it and Williams has that ability. He has an explosive step once he sees the hole and with his compact frame he is able to explode into the second level being hard to take down. Williams possesses great balance for a running back upon contact and keeps his legs moving after contact moving forward more often than backwards.

Weakness – Williams needs to improve his pass catching. He currently is not utilized as a three down back and to make an impression at the next level. He struggles in pass pro with staying in balance and picking up oncoming blitzes when on the field during passing plays. In the Red Raider offense, he will need to become better at this to stay on field and be able to be utilized in these situations.

Overall – With a new quarterback for the Red Raiders, Williams be asked to carry the workload from the backfield early in the season. With the wide open offense that the Red Raiders run, Williams will be utilized more in the passing game as well where he will be able to show whether he can be a three down back at the next level or not. Williams shows an explosive burst through the whole and great balance to go along with his sturdy frame.

Tags: BCS Big 12 CFB Defensive Tackles Football Running Backs Texas Tech Red Raiders Football

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