LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Texas Tech junior running back Eric Stephens is out for the season after dislocating his left knee in last weekend’s 45-40 loss to Texas A&M.
Stephens was averaging 114 yards per game and was on pace to reach 1,000 for the season. He was a big part of coach Tommy Tuberville’s effort to bring a more balanced offense to the pass-happy Red Raiders. He finished with 570 yards on 109 carries.
The team announced the news Tuesday.
“It’s tough to lose a guy, the type of person he is, No. 1,” Tuberville said. “He wanted to win games. But he wanted to show the team, ‘Hey, in this offense, we can get a 1,000 yards in this league. I can help us win games.’”
The Red Raiders (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) host No. 17 Kansas State (5-0, 2-0) on Saturday night. It will be tellevised on FSN.
The options to replace Stephens include fifth-year senior Aaron Crawford, the 5-foot-10, 211-pounder who Tuberville said was as capable as Stephens in handling blocking assignments.
“The problem with Aaron is staying healthy,” Tuberville said. “He can be a 100-yard rusher a game, but he’s got to get that mentality and understand that sometimes you’re going to have to play through getting knocked around a little bit, because carrying the ball three times a game as compared to 15 or 20 is a whole lot different in this league.”
Crawford went in for Stephens after he was injured Saturday night. He finished with seven carries for 22 yards.
Texas Tech also has two true freshman —DeAndre Washington and Kenny Williams — available.
Stephens was the nation’s 15th-ranked rusher. He went down late in the third quarter on a first-and-goal play, his left leg pinned after a hit from Aggies linebacker Damontre Moore.
The last time Texas Tech had a 1,000-yard rusher was in 1998 when Ricky Williams ran for 1,582 yards. Once former coach Mike Leach took over, the offense was weighted heavily toward the pass.