Wiley Webb: We've all seen Davis Webb's cannon. As NFL scouts are wont to say, Webb can make all the throws, and perhaps even a few that have never been seen before. We know that Webb has great leadership ability. His veteran teammates have already dubbed him the "Alpha Male" for his fearless take-charge demeanor. But the more Webb plays, the more hitherto undiscovered facets of his game emerge.
Against West Virginia, we learned a couple of new things about Webb. First, he throws very well on the run. Now Webb does not have Baker Mayfield's shiftiness and ability to finish runs (his fumble at the goal line attests to that!), but he senses pressure effortlessly, evades rushers, and can throw across his body with great accuracy while rolling out. This is what Kliff Kingsbury is talking about when he mentions quarterbacks extending plays. Webb has the ability to do this with great effect.
And second, Webb is an extremely crafty ball-handler. On a couple of occasions against West Virginia, Webb carried out fakes with the sort of legerdemain that would have made Merlin and Houdini proud. And as the Tech ground game improves, play action will become increasingly effective. Having a magician like Webb running those plays will only make them more lethal.
Deploying DeAndre: Although both Deandre Washington and Kenny Williams have made strides running the ball the past couple of games, there is still some question about how good they will actually be simply as ball-carriers. But one thing that is becoming clear about Washington is that he can be a deadly receiver. And the reason for this is Washington's elusiveness in the open field.
Open-field running is perhaps the single most important thing that made Michael Crabtree such a terrific receiver. The minute Crab got his claws on the pigskin, he knew exactly what to do with it. Washington, although he runs totally different routes from Crabtree, has that same innate sense. Once he gets the ball in open space, he doesn't waste time but gets upfield immediately and makes all the right cuts and finds alleys and gaps in the defense. I hope Washington will become an even greater factor in the passing game as his career progresses. He could be another Taurean Henderson, but with greater explosive play potential.
Special Teams Smarts: Watch football long enough and one thing that becomes obvious is the extraordinarily high number of boneheaded plays that occur in the return game. Again and again return men show terrible judgment and make dreadful decisions. They fair catch balls that should be allowed to bounce into the end zone; they run back kickoffs from deep in their own end zone, and they attempt to field balls that they should avoid altogether because of how difficult they will be to catch. For this reason, it is noteworthy when a return man does something smart.
Such was the case against West Virginia when kickoff returner Bradley Marquez waited patiently for a slowly serpentining ball to go out of bounds, thus giving Tech field position at the 35, rather than attempting to return it from the hemmed in corner near the goal line. Many times you'd rather have smarts and reliable judgment in a returner than speed and explosiveness. Marquez has a bit of all that.
Webb, Washington and Marquez
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