Five for 10: Watch over Webb

Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has stated repeatedly the goal every year is to win the Big 12 championship. In order to do that the Red Raiders must win at least 10 games as the last team to win a Big 12 title with less than 10 regular season victories was Colorado back in 2001. With that in mind is doing a five-part series analyzing what Tech must do in order to get to 10 wins.

In most football seasons since 2000, when Mike Leach took over, Texas Tech has had a glut at the quarterback position. So much so that many a talented signal caller transferred out. Phillip Daugherty, Chris Todd, Stefan Loucks, Scotty Young, Jacob Karam, Baker Mayfield, Michael Brewer, Clayton Nicholas and Jason Winn are just some of the luminaries who transferred or pursued other opportunities, and the inability to garner playing time was the chief reason why.

And that

Patrick Mahomes

is why Tech’s current roster looks so odd. The only bona fide quarterback on campus right now is Davis Webb. Help arrives shortly with blue chip recruit Patrick Mahomes and walk-ons such as blue-blooded Vincent Testaverde and Payne Sullins. Unless a miracle happens, the Red Raiders will pin their quarterback hopes on Webb and pray that he stays healthy the entire season. The thought of another season where raw freshmen play the most important position on the field is almost unthinkable. Yet it is a possibility.

Clearly, therefore, it is utterly critical to protect Davis Webb at all cost. The more hits he takes the greater the likelihood he doesn't get up from one of them, and if that happens, breaking even let alone winning 10 games could be a struggle.

One certainty is that the Red Raiders must do a better job protecting Webb than they did he and Baker Mayfield last season. In 2013 Tech gave up over two and a half sacks per game, which was No. 98 nationally. Obviously, the fact that the Red Raiders were No. 2 in pass attempts per game partially accounts for that awful statistic, but it is worth noting that in 2008 Texas Tech was No. 1 nationally in pass attempts per game, yet were No. 8 in sacks allowed per contest. Clearly, it is possible to pass frequently yet still keep your quarterback upright.

The onus of protecting Webb falls primarily upon the offensive line. And fortunately, this group looks like it could be one of the better Tech o-lines in quite some time. The loss of guard Beau Carpenter stings, but the hurt is largely neutralized by the surprise return of tackle Rashad Fortenberry, and the apparent good health of brothers Alfredo and Tony Morales.

Aside from

Dom Robertson

Fortenberry and the Morales brothers, Tech welcomes back Le’Raven Clark, who is a preseason All-Big 12 pick, veteran center Jared Kaster and sophomore guard Baylen Brown, who came on strong late last season. Backups are young but talented, and this group will be augmented by JUCO transfers Shaquille Davis and Dominique Robertson. The latter may actually be too good to sit on the bench.

All in all, the makings are there for a very good quarterback escort service.

But there are other factors to consider. Such as the quarterback himself.

Davis Webb is now a year wiser. And you can be sure he understands his importance to the team and of the necessity to stay healthy. That being the case, we presumably will not see him break the pocket and amble up the field as he sometimes did a year ago. He will simply be more prudent. Likewise, he will not be chary of airmailing the pigskin into the cheap seats when the heat gets too heavy. Better to sacrifice a play than a season.

Webb has also gotten noticeably bigger than he was as a freshman. He is reportedly now 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, which is about the same size as Taylor Potts. If the added stature and girth doesn't slow him down and make him more vulnerable, it will help him withstand the occasional beating he is bound to take.

At any rate, Webb has always had excellent pocket presence—something Potts lacked—and this trait will spare him many unnecessary hits.

Regardless of the dire outcome should Webb succumb, you can be sure Kliff Kingsbury will not alter Tech’s offensive strategy. Throwing the ball 50-plus times per game is Red Raider football and that will not change. Kingsbury himself says that fortune favors the bold. And boldness it will be. But fortune also favors the team that keeps its quarterback in one piece.

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