MIDLAND — When last seen in full uniform, Davis Webb was throwing four touchdown passes in his first four series on the way to being the Holiday Bowl offensive most valuable player.
Texas Tech’s sophomore quarterback didn’t quite match that Saturday, but he came close. No longer looking over his shoulder at Baker Mayfield and Michael Brewer, Webb gave another four-TD, no-interceptions performance in an intrasquad scrimmage at Grande Communications — the team’s first open session of spring football practice.
Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said the performance was “just what he’s been doing all spring. Really been focused, really been locked in and we’ve got some receivers out there making plays for him, so it was fun to watch.”
Webb and second-team quarterback Tanner Tausch took all the snaps in the 91-play scrimmage. Webb’s four TD passes covered 10 yards to Reginald Davis, 18 yards to Bradley Marquez, 26 yards to Dylan Cantrell and 60 yards to D.J. Polite-Bray.
Last year, Webb raised eyebrows when he trotted out for the first series at the Midland scrimmage. Now, after throwing 20 touchdown passes last season and the offseason departures of Mayfield and Brewer, he’s the guy.
“I feel a lot more comfortable out there with our guys,” said Webb, who completed 21 of 32 for 263 yards. “I can be more vocal. I can check what I want to check, and it showed, I think, a little bit today.”
Webb’s four scoring passes came in eight series. The offense went 12 plays and 75 yards to a 3-yard DeAndre Washington touchdown on the first possession and five plays and 40 yards on Webb’s second series, which ended with him looping the TD pass to Davis.
The Red Raiders need a replacement for split end Eric Ward and might have one in Polite-Bray, the sophomore who ended last season as Ward’s top backup. With other split-end candidates Derreck Edwards and Devin Lauderdale sitting out Saturday, Polite-Bray got all the first-team snaps and took advantage with six catches for 104 yards.
“We had some guys at his position out, so he got a bunch of reps and stepped up and made plays,” Kingsbury said. “That’s been one of the best competitions in camp at his position, and I was proud of the way he stepped up.”
Sophomore Dominique Wheeler worked with the second team, but didn’t catch a pass.
Kingsbury stopped short of saying Polite-Bray is the leader for the job.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Kingsbury said. “I would say the other guys haven’t had enough reps to really evaluate. But he (Polite-Bray) has been tremendous. Last year, he really grew up a lot. He’s got the speed we need outside, so hopefully he keeps coming on.”
Polite-Bray showed some shake and bake catches mid-range passes over the middle and then, late in the scrimmage, got free on a fly pattern and caught Webb’s perfectly thrown bomb.
“The first week he came in here,” Webb said, “every time we were in 7 on 7 in the summer, all he wanted me to do was throw him posts and go (routes). Now he can run stops, outs, digs and stuff like that, so he’s really enhanced his game. It’s a credit to him for working hard, but he’s always been a good player with a lot of speed.”
Tausch, the mid-term arrival from Kilgore College, had 125 yards on 17-for-27 passing. Senior Ryan Bustin finished a couple of Tausch’s series with 23- and 28-yard field goals.
Last season, Bustin made 22 of 26, tying for third in the nation in field goals made. Many of them were chip shots as the Red Raiders repeatedly stalled in and near the red zone.
They hope to remedy that in 2014 and show a more big-play dimension.
“That’s been one of our big points of emphasis this whole spring,” Kingsbury said. “I thought last year we had to play within a box, a 20-yard box, a lot of times. We want to push it down field. Davis has a great arm, so let’s throw it down there and see what happens.”
Along those lines, much has been this offseason of Webb’s weight gain. The 6-foot-4 sophomore said he’s now in the 212- to 215-pound range, still eyeing a target of 220.
“You can tell the ball’s coming out of my hand with a more little zip than it did last year,” he said.
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TEXAS TECH SCRIMMAGE
At Grande Communications Stadium, Midland
Washington 3 run (Bustin kick)
R. Davis 10 pass from Webb (Bustin kick)
FG Bustin 23
Marquez 18 pass from Webb (Bustin kick)
FG Bustin 28
Cantrell 26 pass from Webb (Bustin kick)
Polite-Bray 60 pass from Webb (Bustin kick)
RUSHING: White 7-50, Washington 7-33, Weh-Weh 4-18, Grant 1-7, Hall 4-3, Webb 1-(-5), Tausch 5-(-23).
PASSING: Webb 21-32-0—263, Tausch 17-27-0—125.
RECEIVING: Austin 7-63, Polite-Bray 6-104, Mitcham 4-38, Hall 4-10, Cantrell 3-41, Grant 3-36, Pearson 3-23, Marquez 2-24, R. Davis 2-21, J. Davis 2-20, Corker 1-8, White 1-0.