The QB controversies that Texas Tech has endured over the past couple of years have been nothing short of insane. We started not one, but two true freaking freshmen in 2013, and a third in 2014. In the past two years, we haven't had a quarterback old enough to buy a beer or firearm legally. This doesn't happen everywhere. And once again, we find ourselves in another quarterback controversy, only this time the guys are slightly older.
Kliff is notorious for playing his cards close to his chest. From the outside looking in, you see the Drake and Kanye playlists, the dance-offs and calling out Beyonce for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The Red Raiders' football practices seem closer to an episode of Blue Mountain State than a competitive Division 1 football team. However, Kliff's personality doesn't match up with his creative, aggressive, fun, high-flying approach to offense. There has been almost complete radio silence from the field house since last year. We had one spring game in the middle of spring practice, and as the players trotted out to the field, we saw that Davis Webb, one of the QBs in contention for the starting job, wasn't even suiting up in pads for the scrimmage. No one had any idea that this was happening. Kenny Williams switched from running back to linebacker, and played sparingly. Then all of a sudden, he was lined up at running back again, and caught a ~60 yard pass out of the backfield for a touchdown in the opening moments against TCU. Kliff simply doesn't tell people anything.
In many compare-college-football-coaches-to-celebrities contests, Kliff most often gets Ryan Gosling (of course), Channing Tatum, or some other dude who is most well known for his abs and jawline. In real life, Kliff is much less Magic Mike and more James Bond. We see the swooped hair, Ray-Bans and Air-Raid Tempo offense, and expect him to loud, brash and in your face, like his old coach, Mike Leach. This isn't Kliff. At all. Much like Bond, he uses stealth to get in a position where he can cause the most damage with a contained strike. And like Bond, when he gets into position, he refuses the subtlety of a stealth take-down, opting instead to kick in the door, pull two Mac-10s from somewhere in his tuxedo, and hose everyone in his path.
At this Big XII Media Day interview though, Kliff might have tipped his hand a slight bit.
Kliff: "whichever [QB] can protect the football best... is going to be our guy" #Big12MediaDays #connectthedots— Casey Cowan (@thecaseycowan) July 20, 2015
Kingsbury says eliminating negative plays will separate his QBs. Which ever guy will take the best shots & play smart will be the guy.— Cassie Gallo (@CassieGallo) July 20, 2015
No offense to Davis Webb, but the QB that protected the ball better in 2014 was definitely Mahomes. According to Casey Cowan, Mahomes turns the ball over once every 46.3 attempts, with Davis Webb turning the ball over every 35.2 attempts. Texas Tech's turnover struggles do not only fall on the quarterbacks, but we delude ourselves if we don't think they have something to do it. Webb threw 24 TDs to 13 INTs in 2014, with Mahomes throwing a much better 16 TDs to 4 INTs.
Despite throwing an interception to Micah Awe and almost throwing one to Nigel Bethel in the spring scrimmage, Mahomes looked impressive in the spring scrimmage, going 12-16 with 2 TDs. As mentioned before, Webb did not play.
Another factor in this is the situation the turnover was committed in. Mahomes' turnovers were relatively benign. No one is likely to forget the pick Webb threw at Arkansas after getting the ball back before half, or the pick against Oklahoma State in 2013 that seemingly came in the exact same situation on the exact same play, even thrown to the exact same linebacker position. If we're going by turnovers, the job may be Mahomes' to lose.
Kliff cites the ability to extend plays as a current/recent trait amongst successful "air raid" QBs... #connecthedots #Big12MediaDays— Casey Cowan (@thecaseycowan) July 20, 2015
The second tip of the hand: mobility. Mobility, mobility, mobility. Once again, not throwing shade at Davis Webb, but it's pretty obvious who is the better runner out of him and Mahomes. While Mahomes' best YPC is only 3.0, at Baylor, what he can do on the ground is better than what Webb can do at this point in time.
There's more to mobility than actually running the football too, the threat of a scramble or a read option can throw defenses off too. The difference between an OLB or DE staying at home on a zone-option play can mean the difference between a 20 yard gain and a 2 yard gain. A DT or MLB spy can take one more person off of pass rush or coverage duty, which can mean the world for a receiver trying to get open or an offensive lineman trying to prevent a sack. Mahomes doesn't need to have crazy running stats to impact the running game, he simply has to be a threat. The Air Raid thrives off of creating massive spaces in the flats and over the middle to get the ball into, and Mahomes being a running threat can create those spaces.
Ultimately, we have no clue who's going to line up at QB against SHSU in September. Kliff says he'll have a starter in fall camp, but that doesn't mean we'll know who the guy is, just that he'll have one. I get that he wants to keep things quiet, but I can't help but think that he might've divulged a little bit of what we'll see from the 2015 Red Raiders today.