Comparing the Freshmen Quarterbacks | Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield

Green Bay Packers quarterback Graham Harrell (6) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field. - Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech may be starting one of two true freshmen quarterbacks against SMU, find all you wanted to know about Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield.

We as fans are somewhat left debating for a period of time and there’s no reason why we can’t jump into the fray. I’ve always maintained that there really wasn’t much of a quarterback controversy or competition with a healthy Michael Brewer other than the fact that a starter wasn’t actually named. Based on actual performance and what I’ve been told about Brewer’s injury (confirmed by two different people) it really wasn’t all that close. You’ll have to trust me on this, but that’s fine if you don’t. In any event, Brewer has apparently re-aggravated his back and hasn’t practiced this week, while there is strong speculation that Brewer won’t start in week #1 against SMU.

Now, it appears that Texas Tech is headed towards starting one of two true freshmen and one redshirt freshman quarterbacks on the roster, Davis Webb, Baker Mayfield, a redshirt freshman Clayton Nicholas. This post isn't going to focus on Nicholas as there seems to be some disconnect with whatever he's doing. He doesn't seem to be mentioned much, if at all, as part of the competition and I'm not sure why.

I thought it would be fun to take a look at the two resumes of both Webb and Mayfield on a side-by-side basis. Obviously, all we have is the high school careers of each player and the guru ratings, but that’s just fine. To make things somewhat even, I’ve used the stats from their respective 24/7 Sports profiles for every year of their high school career. Webb threw some passes as a sophomore, where Mayfield did not, but I thought this was a better representation than just a senior year. I know there are some differing stats, but I'm trying to be consistent.

Quarterback Comparison
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Cumulative Rank Offers Completion % TD | INT Yds/Att Video
7 Davis Webb FR 6-4/194 0.8672 Texas Tech, Indiana, Iowa, TCU, Texas-San Antonio, Utah St. 55% 50 | 20 7.26 Clip 1
6 Baker Mayfield FR 6-2/220 0.8385 Florida Atlantic, New Mexico and Rice 65% 69 | 7 9.41 Clip 1


How Did We Get Here

Brewer is apparently injured and the two quarterbacks that were here previously are no longer here. Jacob Karam is set to start his second year at Memphis and I believe that Scotty Young is set to start at Louisiana Tech. Brewer was good enough to chase off two quarterbacks and based upon the limited showing of what we have seen, Brewer was going to step into that starting role this year.

But now Brewer is out, at least for the SMU game and Texas Tech is left with three freshmen battling it out to start at quarterback. Apparently the race is between two of the freshmen quarterbacks, Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield. Webb’s story is pretty easy to explain. He went into his senior year at Prosper, his first year at that school, and performed very well. Webb was essentially picked by former OC Neal Brown to be the quarterback for the 2013 class. I actually very much trust what OC Brown did at quarterback. Tuberville takes off and goes to Cincy and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury continues to keep Webb as his quarterback for the 2013 class.

Mayfield’s journey is a bit more strange. Mayfield apparently had a handful of offers, namely an offer from Washington St. and current Co-OC & IR coach Eric Morris at Washington St. But something happened with that Washington St. offer. In February, Mayfield didn’t state that he still had an offer from Washington St.:

Mayfield reportedly received scholarship offers from Rice, New Mexico and Florida Atlantic. He also caught the eye of TCU, and he held out for an offer from the Horned Frogs. In January, though, TCU snagged a commitment from Zach Allen, a Temple quarterback who had backed away from an earlier commitment to Syracuse. And by that time, Mayfield’s former suitors had found other prospects.

The WSU offer is noticeably absent. Perhaps this is because WSU took another quarterback, but for someone like me I don’t see how a successful 3-star quarterback is left out of any scholarship options. Maybe this shouldn't strike me as odd, but I do find it strange not to have a contingency plan. I also find the rational odd because of Mayfield’s height, he didn't get any other real looks. Again, I find that odd because there are scores of quarterbacks who are 6’1" that get scholarships each year. This isn’t a case where Mayfield was 5’8". Maybe I shouldn't find this odd, but I can’t help to think that it’s strange that a kid that throws for 6,000 yards in two years doesn’t have any other offers. Maybe the other part of it is that he just wanted to walk-on at Texas Tech. I know that Collin Bowen passed up playing at Texas St. to walk-on at Texas Tech, so it certainly does happen.

No matter, he’s here and I do think that this is a case where Mayfield deserved a scholarship somewhere, but just never materialized. Kids earn scholarships for doing much less in comparison to Mayfield. And also note that Mayfield’s high school teammate, I think he’s #5 in all of those highlight videos making all of those catches, Zach Austin, is also on Texas Tech’s roster.

The System

There are a couple of interesting things to note here. As far as Webb is concerned, I think that playing at Prosper last year was his first year at Prosper and his dad is a coach and may have moved around a bit. It seems that Mayfield grew up in the Lake Travis system, which has seemingly been a system since then head coach and now Clemson OC Chad Morris was the head coach, was there. Somewhat like Southlake Carroll, Lake Travis is an institution, and it started with Garrett Gilbert, then Brewer, and then Mayfield. Webb didn't have the luxury of being part of a program that was bigger than him. I think that you can look at the completion percentage to get a feel for that, but Mayfield's yards per attempt is significantly better than Webb's. Again, without watching a ton of film, that may be an indication of having a system in place or overall team performance than anything else. I would think that Mayfield has always been on the better team over Webb and that helps with stats. Just ask Gilbert.

That's not to say that Webb didn't have advantages of his own, having the ability to throw to both of Tori Hunter's kids certainly helps any quarterback and Webb had that at Prosper.

In any event, I think I want to give the nod to Mayfield in this instance. They've both probably been quarterbacks for most of their lives, but I'd give the edge to Mayfield for being part of a program and system a bit longer, which may help him adjust quicker to playing for Kingsbury as the systems are quite similar. Webb played in a similar offense too, but I still think I like Mayfield here.

Passing

I suppose for the purposes of this bit, I'll go off of arm strength and accuracy. No matter what Mayfield's yards per attempt are, I still think I like Webb's arm better. But that may be the only spot where I think Webb has an advantage. Overall, I do like Mayfield completion percentage, again, I think quite a bit of it has to do with where they respectively went to high school and being ingrained in that system. It is a definite advantage for Mayfield in comparing their high school stats. But more than that, I think I like Mayfield's incredibly low interception rate. No matter who will play quarterback, I think the emphasis will be on playing within yourself, but also to play as mistake-free as possible. Mayfield's entire college career was seemingly devoid of any turnovers. I think that's significant in this instance and I go back to Webb's interception during the spring where Webb just throws up a pass. Texas Tech won't be able to afford those types of mistakes against SMU.

Rushing

In watching Mayfield's film, I can't help but think that the rushing yards are a mirage. He continues to run and out-run opponents, but I feel that this won't translate to the college game nearly as well. This isn't to say that I think that Mayfield is a statue, but I can't seem him rumbling down the field like he did in high school. And to me, it looks awkward and he's about to be caught each and every time, but then Mayfield rumbles free and breaks tackles. Webb is certainly mobile, but not a rushing threat. I don't know if Webb had the green light that Mayfield apparently had. Still, I can't see Mayfield having the same success rushing as he did in high school. Even then, I'll give the edge to Mayfield just based off of apparent success.

Experience

The interesting thing about this quarterback competition is that just last week, it seemed that folks were touting the fact that Webb was the upstart that could unseat the veteran and how that role seems to have shifted to Mayfield. Given the fact that Webb has been here for the entire spring, summer and fall, Webb has the edge here.

Conclusion

If I’m basing this off of success at the high school level then logic tells me that this is Mayfield’s start against SMU, but I’m not sure that’s going to be the case. It is a precarious situation that could have long-term implications. I can’t assume one way or another the status of Brewer at this point other than to assume he’s out and if I’m Kingsbury, I’m not worried so much about removing redshirts as I am about playing the best player and winning a football game.

Generally speaking, I really don’t want to take any redshirts off of any freshman player unless they intend on playing 50% of the snaps, but this situation is a bit different. Someone is going to have to play, unless Kingsbury is really yanking our chains and will start Clayton Nicholas, which I suppose is an option.

Kingsbury had to rely on a true freshman at quarterback in 2010 and the results weren’t just terrific. David Piland threw for over 2,600 yards, 24 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 57% completion percentage and 7.7 yards per attempt. That would be pretty respectable. The obvious advantage here is that Kingsbury has had to play a freshman before, so he probably knows what to expect better than most. Houston ended up 5-7 that year, and Piland didn’t play until the 5th game of the year. Piland wasn’t awful, but we really don’t care about stats, we care about wins ultimately.

I think that Mayfield is the guy here because of completion percentage and low turnover rate. I don’t think that Mayfield was really much of a threat to play, but I think the biggest reason is that he’s got to get someone snaps and they’ve got to play a significant amount of time in practice. You open up your eyes, I suppose, when you have to.

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