Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said Wednesday it’s conceivable the Red Raiders could play more than one quarterback in the season opener. In the same conversation, he didn’t offer any immediate hope for the injured Michael Brewer getting back into the mix.
True freshmen Davis Webb from Prosper and Baker Mayfield from Austin Lake Travis have moved to the front while Brewer, a sophomore, has been out with a back injury.
“If it’s a situation where they both deserve the reps, we’re not afraid to do that,” Kingsbury said when asked about playing two quarterbacks. “They’ve both had great camps, and we’ll see.”
Junior wide receiver Bradley Marquez said it won’t surprise him if Kingsbury uses both. The Red Raiders open on Aug. 30 at SMU.
“He has a lot up his sleeve,” Marquez said. “He’s an offensive genius. Whatever he comes up with, I’m behind him definitely.”
Co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie was asked whether the job is a tossup or if coaches have an idea, without revealing names, who’s in the lead.
“It’s really still a coin flip,” Cumbie said. “We’re in a situation where both of those guys are doing great things and really moving the ball. It’s a good situation. It’s a tough situation from the standpoint of playing one, but they’re really doing a great job.”
Kingsbury said last week he wouldn’t name a starter before game day, and he stuck to that Wednesday.
“When he trots out there, y’all will know,” Kingsbury said.
Kingsbury has started freshmen at quarterback before: David Piland at the University of Houston in 2010 and Johnny Manziel last year at Texas A&M. Piland was a true freshman.
“This will be my fourth year calling plays and, I guess, my third year that I’ll start a freshman,” Kingsbury said. “That makes up for the sixth-year senior (Houston’s Case Keenum) I started my first year. I tell them all the time if I coach them like freshmen, they’ll play like freshmen. So I coach them like they’ve been in the system for three years and expect those results.”
Before he suffered a back injury this summer, Brewer was the favorite to be the starter. He saw some game action last year behind Seth Doege.
During the competition between Webb and Mayfield, Brewer has stood on the sidelines and watched practice.
“He’s been great,” Kingsbury said. “He’s been supportive of those young guys, been a real team player. It breaks your heart for him because he’s such a competitor. I know he wants be out there competing for the job, but he’s rehabbing and will get back in the mix as soon as he’s ready to go.”
The revelation of Brewer’s injury led many outside the program to assume Webb would be the obvious choice.
Not so fast.
After a solid performance in the first scrimmage of preseason camp, Mayfield became a contender.
“Davis was here in the spring,” Kingsbury said. “He’s a fast learner, coach’s kid, really strong arm, big, athletic (and) loves football. And Baker, you know, coming from Lake Travis, won a bunch of games, is used to winning, scrappy guy, runs around and makes plays. Both guys can get it done. They just get it done different ways.”
Players and coaches say Webb and Mayfield have an authority on the field that might be surprising coming from a freshman.
“I was really surprised when Davis came in the spring and just the overall authority he had over the team,” senior running back-receiver Sadale Foster said. “I didn’t expect that from a freshman guy. He just shows that he has a lot of poise as quarterback and that just made us, as an offense, more confident in him.
“Baker has been able to do it as well. He just does it in a different way. They’re totally different guys but they have the same purpose, to win games. Baker is more of a humorous guy, but Davis is humorous too but he knows when to get serious. They both get the job done in different ways.”
Either way, both freshmen have picked up the offense quickly.
“Baker, he’s really able to keep the play alive and extend plays,” Marquez said. “He has great mobility in the pocket and getting out and being able to make plays.
“Davis is just confident in what he brings to the team. He prepares himself and he really loves his position and takes full advantage and really works hard on his craft.”
Webb had a one-semester head start on Mayfield, a preferred walk-on who arrived in the summer. Webb’s being 6-foot-4 with a strong arm doesn’t hurt his chances.
“Standing as tall as he does, it’s nice to see everything,” Marquez said. “He definitely has a good arm. He had a really good spring and coming out and having a good fall. And Baker, coming in July, for him to grasp the offense this quickly is really amazing to watch.”
Kingsbury said he’s simply looking for a winner.
“Just whoever can win the game,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. Both of these guys have proven that in high school, and I’m sure they’ll prove that at this level.”
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