The hardest part for any college quarterback, is dealing with fan expectations and the ever present thought that the "other guy" is always better. The leash fans have for a player as visible as the quarterback, is growing shorter every year, that is, unless you're the fan favorite. Such is the case for Texas Tech backup QB, Davis Webb. From touted High School recruit, to savior of the 2013 season, to Top 5 talent, to 2nd string, Webb has never really been the favorite of Tech fans, who for some reason, always preferred somebody else. With some uncertainty about Mahomes' knee injury going into the Baylor game this weekend, I thought it was about time that the naysayers be put to rest and a case be made for Davis Webb.
It's extremely difficult to believe that former walk-on and current Oklahoma QB, Baker Mayfield, is being discussed as a Heisman hopeful. The walk-on, who if not for injuries to then projected starter, Michael Brewer, and a freak illness to Davis Webb, we may never have played and Oklahoma would still have Trevor Knight as their QB. But such was the beginning of Davis Webb's career at Tech. A high school standout out of Prosper, Webb received offers from Texas Tech, TCU, and Iowa among others. His main recruiter was Sonny Cumbie, who now helps run TCU's explosive attack.
With the news of Tommy Tuberville's departure to Cincinnati, Tech fans were extremely worried that Webb would sign elsewhere. But Webb didn't and decided to stay with Tech and play for incoming coach Kliff Kingsbury. The first indication of how he viewed Tech and that he was true to his word, despite the opportunity to go elsewhere.
Baker Mayfield was forced to start, with both Michael Brewer and Davis Webb sidelined, and quickly became a fan favorite for his explosive play-making ability and feel good story about being a walk-on. During the third game of the season in which Mayfield threw 3 interceptions, but it was Davis Webb's beauty of a fade to Bradley Marquez for a TD that sealed the deal for the Red Raiders over TCU.
When Baker Mayfield was injured in the Kansas game, many fans were concerned about Davis Webb filling in and how long it would be until Mayfield came back. In the Kansas game, Webb filled in going 3 for 6 with 2 TD's and 0 INTS. With Mayfield out, Davis Webb led Tech to a 42-35 win over Iowa State going, 35 for 56, 415 yards and 3 TD's. Good enough to not rush Mayfield back from injury heading into the West Virginia game.
All Webb did against West Virginia was lead Tech to a 37-27 victory and made history in being the first Tech QB to surpass 400 yards passing in each of his first 2 starts.
Against Oklahoma, Webb threw for 385 yards and 2 TD's, but the 2 costly interceptions is what tends to stick in fans mind about missed opportunities for then #10 Texas Tech losing to OU by just 8 points.
After another loss to Oklahoma State and another 2 interceptions, despite overall good play, many fans were glad to see Baker Mayfield back from injury to take on Kansas State wearing "Never Quit" jerseys. Mayfield did quit though, throwing 2 interceptions and no touchdowns, leaving Webb to be brought in again and outplay Mayfield in limited time.
Webb stayed fighting for the job and won it over Michael Brewer for the Holiday Bowl vs Arizona State. We won MVP.
It didn't take long for the fans to start wanting to see more of Patrick Mahomes over Webb as the team struggled out of the gate after an off-season full of expectations. Playing with a torn labrum and a fractured ankle, he continued to give Texas Tech everything he had, but his injuries sustained in the TCU game would end up keeping him out for the remainder of the season giving an opportunity to Mahomes.
Mahomes did great, setting records for yards in a game by a freshman and winning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week each of his first 4 starts. After the up and down, somewhat turnover prone season from Webb, fans were ready to move on.
Unlike Mayfield, Webb didn't transfer. He didn't throw a fit about an open competition for the job of starting QB. And he went about his business in preparing to learn from past mistakes and be the quarterback for the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
He prepares like he's the starter. He trains like he's the starter. And more than anything he wants to be the starter. He knows that at any moment he could be called upon regardless of how fans feel about it and he has the tools, the experience and the makeup for Tech's offense to not miss a beat.
Davis Webb Stats
|*2013||Texas Tech||Big 12||FR||QB||10||226||361||62.6||2718||7.5||7.5||20||9||139.1|
|2014||Texas Tech||Big 12||SO||QB||8||211||345||61.2||2539||7.4||7.1||24||13||138.4|
|2015||Texas Tech||Big 12||JR||QB||2||6||13||46.2||96||7.4||7.4||0||0||108.2|
Statistically, Mahomes does have better stats than Webb. Heck, Mahomes has better stats than almost any Tech QB in the modern era. For brevity sake, lets take a look at Tech quarterback's ratings from 2000 to present.
2000: Kingsbury 117.0
2001: Kingsbury 136.8
2002: Kingsbury 143.7
2003: BJ Symons 151.3
2004: Cumbie 138.5
2005: Hodges 147.6
2006: Harrell 145.5
2007: Harrell 157.3
2008: Harrell 160.0
2009: Potts 137.1
2009: Sheffield 177.6
2010: Potts 141.1
2011: Doege 138.9
2012: Doege 153.4
2013: Mayfield 127.7
2013: Webb 139.1
2014: Webb 138.4
2014: Mahomes 151.2
2015: Mahomes 156.3
Webb is in pretty good company, especially being the first QB at Tech to start as a True Freshman since Kliff Kingsbury (Mayfield doesn't count). He may not have the dual-threat capability that Mahomes does, but an argument could be made that Webb is a better QB than Mahomes as it pertains to passing. Webb is the traditional 6-5 QB, who can read defenses, and the arm power to make any throw necessary. Webb is so highly thought of that Kingsbury called Webb a "Top 5 talent" for the NFL draft. That just doesn't go away. Mahomes is good and Kingsbury is playing the hot hand, but that doesn't negate Webb's talents.
Not being the fan favorite is tough. Graham Harrell was booed during the Mizzouri game in 2006 after throwing 3 first half interceptions, in favor of backup Chris Todd. In 2009, Tech's struggles were placed firmly on the shoulders of Harrell's successor, Taylor Potts as the fans clamored for Steven Sheffield. And now, it's Davis Webb's turn to find himself on the outside of fan's favor-ability. It doesn't seem to effect him much. He still has a sense of purpose about him. His teammates love him. He mentors Mahomes and he knows that his time will come. Even for the briefest of appearances, he will have his opportunity to stake his claim into Red Raider lore.
If it is the case that Mahomes will miss the Baylor game this weekend, the case for Webb should make Tech fans optimistic, not pessimistic. He has the talent, he has the character and he loves Texas Tech.
If he is called upon, he will answer and above all... he will deliver.