During his Texas Tech playing career, Kliff Kingsbury started 40 consecutive games at quarterback — occasionally keeping the string alive after he’d thrown in a clunker the week before. Even with B.J. Symons available behind Kingsbury, then-Tech coach Mike Leach had anything but a quick hook with his quarterbacks.
Maybe Kingsbury is the same in that regard. With a good number of Tech fans clamoring for more Michael Brewer, Kingsbury the Red Raiders coach has stayed patient over lengthy stretches with freshman quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb.
And he said he doesn’t feel stressed in his handling of their situations.
“Not at all,” Kingsbury said after Tech’s 41-16 loss Thursday at Texas. “I’m pretty empathetic to all their situations. I wanted Mike to have the opportunity to be successful in his drives when he plays, and the true freshmen are just trying to keep their head above water, being true freshmen and learning the system. They’ve battled hard, given us chances to win at times. We’ve just got to eliminate turnovers.”
Mayfield started the first five games, the streak ending only after he suffered a knee injury that took him out of the mix for a week. When Webb showed up well immediately in wins against Iowa State and West Virginia, he wound up getting five starts in a row himself.
Kingsbury didn’t go back to Mayfield until Webb struggled in a 49-26 loss to Kansas State. And he hasn’t used Brewer with a game on the line at all — only in the fourth quarter of lopsided games against Kansas, Baylor and Texas.
Texas unleashed a relentless pass rush on Thanksgiving night, racking up nine sacks. The first seven came against Mayfield, and although Mayfield kept his interceptions to one and didn’t lose a fumble, he never led the Red Raiders to a touchdown drive.
Kingsbury replaced him with 13:03 left in the game and Tech trailing 34-10. During the time he was in, the Red Raiders netted three points from five series in which they had first downs at the Texas 24, 43, 12, 47 and 30.
Kingsbury said he didn’t consider changing before that time.
“I thought we had some quality drives, just didn’t finish them — and it’s a true freshman,” Kingsbury said. “You’ve got to take some bumps along the way and see if you can come out of it.”
Brewer played two series, completing seven of eight passes for 65 yards. On the first series, he led a seven-play, 78-yard touchdown drive, capping it with an 11-yard scoring pass to tight end Jace Amaro. On the second, the Red Raiders got two first downs and Brewer was sacked twice. He also was thrown for a loss looking to pass on a two-point conversion try, which doesn’t go as a sack.
Kingsbury reiterated on Saturday that “operation of the system” is the reason invested practice snaps in the freshmen instead of Brewer, who missed months with a back injury he suffered in the summer. Kingsbury said he wants to put Brewer in situations in which he’ll have a chance to succeed.
Maybe that chance will come in the Red Raiders’ bowl game, likely in late December.
Kingsbury said the starter in that game will be determined by competition in pre-bowl practices.
“But just the fact you were talking about having a competition before a bowl is the type of quarterback year it’s been,” Kingsbury said. “It’s been interesting. They’ve had highs and lows and (I’m) proud of their effort, and we just hve to get better at that position overall.”
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