It didn't take long for Kliff Kingsbury to field a question about starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes' recent injury in today's Big 12 teleconference. Kingsbury, who is in his fourth year at the helm for the Red Raiders, chose to stay quiet on the subject and said there are no new updates on Mahomes' status for Saturday's game with Kansas State. Mahomes sprained an AC joint in his throwing shoulder in last Thursday's game against Kansas and it remains to be seen whether the quarterback will be able to play in TTU's upcoming tilt with the Wildcats. West Virginia fans and coaches alike will undoubtedly play close attention to Saturday night's game between the Red Raiders and KSU, partly to see how Texas Tech fares against a Kansas State defense that gave West Virginia fits, and partly to see if Mahomes is available and looks 100 percent. But, if there is one thing we learned from Tech's 55-19 drubbing over Kansas, it's that the Red Raiders have depth at the position and could be just fine without the Big 12's most prolific passer.
After Mahomes went down in the third quarter of last Thursday night's contest, there was a collective gasp among the fans in Lubbock. Nic Shimonek, a redshirt sophomore quarterback who transferred to Texas Tech from Iowa, replaced Mahomes and did his best to calm the worries of Red Raiders' fans everywhere as he threw four touchdowns against the Jayhawks defense. Shimonek's performance came as somewhat of a surprise to fans and media alike, but it didn't surprise Kingsbury, who watches the quarterback practice every day.
"(NIc) has been here about three years," Kingsbury said. "He transferred from Iowa. He practices every day and competes every day in the weight room and on the practice field. He studies very hard and I was excited to see him get his opportunity. I get to see him practice every day but it was fun for me to get to see him do it under the lights and he handled himself very well."
'Handled himself well' an understatement. Shimonek completed 15 of 21 passes for 271 yards in addition to his four touchdowns, all of which came in less than two full quarters of play. Kingsbury has been under some criticism at Tech after only winning four and seven games in the past two seasons, which can be mainly attributed to a lack of competency on the defensive side of the football, but one thing that cannot be denied is his ability to develop quarterbacks. In addition to Mahomes, Kingsbury has coached current California and Oklahoma starting quarterbacks Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield, who have put up gaudy numbers before and after their transfers from Lubbock. Kingsbury, who has seemingly always had a pelthora of talented quarterbacks on his roster, said its all about treating backups just like starters, because they are just one play away.
"The whole key is making (backup quarterbacks) get ample amount of reps and believing in them and coaching them and projecting them to be great just like you would with your starter," explained Kingsbury. I think when you put all of those things into those guys they usually elevate their game."