Editor’s note: Texas Tech begins spring football practice on March 5. This is the first in a series of spring football previews.
Texas Tech’s quarterback situation is proof positive how much a picture can change in one semester, even without factoring in a graduation ceremony.
The mid-term departures of Baker Mayfield, Michael Brewer and Clayton Nicholas — all underclassmen — leave Holiday Bowl hero Davis Webb as the only scholarship quarterback on campus for spring practice.
That’s bad in that the Red Raiders are dangerously thin at the position, making Webb’s health paramount. But maybe there’s some good in that the Red Raiders will have a clarity they lacked at quarterback all last season.
Prized signee Patrick Mahomes from Whitehouse is due to arrive after he graduates high school, but for the spring it’s Webb’s show.
“The good thing about Davis is he’s very competitive in nature,” Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said last week, “so I don’t think it’s going to take another guy out there pushing him to make him want to be great, because he shows up early, stays late all day, every day.”
When last seen, Webb was closing out his freshman season with a 403-yard, four-touchdown performance that helped double-digit underdog Tech upset Arizona State 37-23 in San Diego. The four touchdown passes came on the first four offensive series, and Webb was named the Holiday Bowl offensive MVP.
He also topped 400 yards passing against Iowa State, West Virginia and Oklahoma State, and was over 300 against Texas State and Oklahoma.
“I thought he played well in almost every game,” Kingsbury said. “I just thought there were three or four plays in each game that were just plays you can’t make — game-losing plays — and that’s what we have to eliminate. When the party’s over, be ready to throw it away and play the next play.
“But for a true freshman to throw for 400 yards that many times and do some of the things he did, he’s got a very bright future. We’ve just got to eliminate the huge negative plays.”
Webb finished the season with 2,718 yards and 20 touchdown passes. However, he and Mayfield threw nine interceptions apiece, and only seven teams in the FBS had more passes picked off than Tech’s 18.
Tech has walk-on quarterbacks Tanner Tausch and Mike Richardson taking part in winter strength and conditioning workouts, and they’ll join Webb in spring practice. Still, with no Mayfield, Brewer or Nicholas around, Webb will get all the work he can handle in March and April.
That’s a bonus, right?
“He’ll get a ton of reps,” Kingsbury said. “I don’t know if that’s a bonus. He likes to compete and he handled the situation great all year and kept showing up, kept competing. So I don’t know if it benefits him to not have anybody else out there, but I know he’s going to maximize his potential.”
Aside from being 6-foot-4, Webb demonstrated plenty of intangibles in his first two semesters on campus. Kingsbury praised him throughout the season for continuing to work hard even when Mayfield was tapped to start the regular season’s first five games and the last two.
Before the season, center Jared Kaster said Webb would jaw at defensive coaches and get on receivers who messed up routes. With that kind of demeanor and an outgoing personality, Webb earned the nickname “the Alpha Male.”
One thing he could use is a little more weight on a skinny frame. On that front, there’s been progress. Kingsbury said last week Webb weighed in at 207 pounds.
“We’d like to still put on a few more pounds,” Kingsbury said, “but I know he’s eating a bunch. He had gained a bunch of weight, and then he got really sick at the beginning of the year and that kind of set him back, so he’s been chasing it since then.”
The Red Raiders need several quarterbacks to run all the drills in workouts. Kingsbury said he expects to have four or five. He’s looking for at least one more before spring practices start March 5.
Two will be Tausch from Kilgore College and Richardson, a 2013 Marble Falls graduate who didn’t play in the fall.
Tausch, who went to Keller Central High School, threw for 2,051 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season for an 8-3 Kilgore team.
Richardson, as a senior on a 4-6 Marble Falls team, threw for 2,763 yards and 31 touchdowns.
“Tausch played at Kilgore and did a good job there, had some good film out and wanted a chance to play in this offense, liked our situation,” Kingsbury said. “And Richardson was at Marble Falls, threw for a bunch of yards and played in a good offense with coach (Todd) Dodge there, a similar offense. So both guys have had some accomplishments and are good players.”
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