Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury on Monday said a medical examination found no structural damage to Baker Mayfield’s injured knee, but he offered no time projection for the freshman quarterback’s return.
“We’ve got to get him over here today and see what all he can do on it,” Kingsbury said, “but that’s about where we’re at. It doesn’t appear to be a season-ending type injury. So timetable-wise, I’m not sure yet, but that was good news.”
Mayfield was forced out of No. 20 Tech’s 54-16 victory Saturday at Kansas. A pass-rushing linebacker rolled into his lower legs, causing Mayfield’s right knee to buckle. After trainers checked him on the sideline, Mayfield went into the locker room on crutches.
He was hurt late in the third quarter with Tech up 37-10.
Kingsbury said it was too early to rule out Mayfield for this week’s game against Iowa State.
“Don’t know. Don’t know,” Kingsbury said. “We’ve got to get him over here, see how he’s moving around, see how he’s feeling and take it from there.”
The freshman from Lake Travis has started all five games. However, freshman Davis Webb has played in four games, and sophomore Michael Brewer saw action Saturday for the first time after being out two months with a back injury.
Mayfield has completed 132 of 201 passes for 1,488 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s run for another 119 yards and two TDs. He’s tied for 16th in the nation in total offense with Georgia’s Aaron Murray, just ahead of bigger name QBs such as Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Florida State’s Jameis Winston.
If Mayfield’s not available this week, it could increase the urgency for Brewer to get back up to speed.
“It just depends,” Kingsbury said. “If Baker can’t go, then obviously he (Brewer) would get more reps than he’s been getting and just see how those other two guys are doing this week in practice.”
Webb has developed gradually in a backup role. In week three, he came in after Mayfield suffered a bruised thigh and threw the game-winning touchdown pass in a 20-10 victory against TCU. He played 10 series to Mayfield’s five in the fourth game of the season, a 33-7 victory against Texas State.
Against Kansas, he led the Red Raiders to 17 points in the first three series after he replaced Mayfield. He threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Eric Ward, led a drive to a field goal and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Cantrell.
Presented with a theoretical scenario of Mayfield being unavailable this week and Brewer not quite ready to start, co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie said Webb would be ready.
“I think he’d be really prepared,” Cumbie said. “I think he’s a kid that, even when he wasn’t playing, prepared that way, as if he was, from a mental standpoint during practice and watching film during the week.”
Webb has thrown for 550 yards and six touchdowns, but he threw two interceptions apiece against Stephen F. Austin and Texas State. The fact he didn’t have any turnovers Saturday made his coach happy.
“He did well,” Kingsbury said. “He protected the ball well, which is what we had talked about. I thought in a couple of games he was trying to make every play and trying to hit a home run with every throw, and he really did a good job (Saturday) just running the offense while he was in there.”
Tech ranks higher in total offense (13th) than in scoring offense (19th) as the Red Raiders have struggled to turn red-zone chances into touchdowns. That’s borne out by kicker Ryan Bustin leading the nation in field goals (13), field goal attempts (15) and field goals per game (2.6).
Cumbie said, as near as he can tell, the Red Raiders have minimized the potential drawbacks of using multiple quarterbacks.
“I think if you make it an issue, it is an issue,” he said. “I know from my meeting room, my skill guys, they go out there and they run as hard as they can no matter who’s out there. They block as hard as they can. We’ve got three capable quarterbacks that are really good. We’re very fortunate to be in that situation.
“I think from an offensive standpoint, if you can get continuity from your line, you’re going to be moving the ball in the run game well and pass protection’s not an issue. Then any of those three guys can move the ball and win games.”
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