Davis Webb

Sophomore quarterback Davis Webb

The pass-happy Texas Tech offense runs through Webb, who has emerged as one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the Big 12 this season. After an impressive freshman campaign in 2013, Webb leads the conference with 24 touchdown passes and stands second with 2,539 passing yards through eight games this year. Webb has passed for at least 247 yards and two touchdowns in every game this season, and he’s already thrown at least three touchdown passes in six games. If he’s healthy enough to play, Webb could be in store for another big game against a Texas secondary that allowed 345 passing yards and three touchdowns to Iowa State quarterback Sam B. Richardson just two weeks ago.

Junior wide receiver Jakeem Grant

Grant has become Webb’s favorite target this season, leading the Red Raiders with 52 receptions and 699 yards while sitting in a tie for second on the team with five touchdowns. The junior has been extremely consistent, turning in at least 70 receiving yards in each of his last seven games and hauling in at least five receptions seven times this season. At 5 feet 6 inches and 169 pounds, Grant is one of the smallest receivers in the Big 12, but he’s made a career for himself in Texas Tech’s quick-paced passing game. Last year, he made 65 receptions for 796 yards and seven touchdowns, and he’s on pace to shatter each of those marks this season.

Senior wide receiver Bradley Marquez

Marquez has been almost as dynamic as Grant this season, placing second on the team with 47 receptions for 582 yards while leading the Red Raiders with seven touchdown receptions. Marquez got off to a torrid start this season, recording 26 receptions and six touchdowns in his first four games. He’s slowed down since, but he’s remained effective, hauling in at least five catches for 65 yards in each of his last three games. That being said, the Longhorns held Marquez in check last season, allowing him just three receptions for 23 yards. 

Junior running back DeAndre Washington

In Texas Tech’s high-octane passing attack, Washington has provided the perfect balance on the ground through eight games. The junior leads Texas Tech with 699 rushing yards on 125 attempts, and he’s already rushed for over 100 yards in three games. Washington hasn’t scored a touchdown since the season opener, but he’s remained extremely effective, as he’s averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He’s also established himself as a threat in the passing game, making 17 receptions for 110 yards through eight games.

QB

Advantage: Texas

Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes did not even reach 150 total yards, and he tried too often to use his cannon of an arm to squeeze passes into nonexistent windows. An atrocious Red Raider defense could be just what the doctor ordered for the talented but inconsistent sophomore.

Red Raider sophomore quarterback Davis Webb leads the 10th-best passing offense in the country, but his status is up in the air for Saturday after suffering an ankle injury against TCU. Backup freshman quarterback Patrick Mahomes was shaky in relief, completing just 5-of-11 passes. A healthy Webb swings this matchup in Tech’s favor.

RB

Advantage: Texas Tech

Junior DeAndre Washington and his 5.6 yards per carry average bring balance to the Red Raiders’ pass-happy offense. His running mate, freshman Justin Stockton, thrives on big plays and has already turned in rushes of 75 and 69 yards to complement his five total touchdowns.

Another week has passed, and neither junior Johnathan Gray nor senior Malcolm Brown has rushed for 100 yards in a game this season. Texas Tech has one of the worst run defenses in the country, but Texas’ backfield duo has not been consistent enough to guarantee
success Saturday.

WR

Advantage: Texas

This unit is loaded with veteran talent, including breakout senior John Harris, but its results depend on a sporadic Swoopes to make the correct reads and deliver accurate passes. Junior Marcus Johnson got open on some deep routes against Kansas State but had little to show for it in the box score. 

Junior Jakeem Grant has benefited most from the Texas Tech’s air-raid attack, hauling in a team-leading 52 receptions for 699 yards and five touchdowns. He and senior Bradley Marquez will look to stretch out a struggling Longhorn
secondary. 

OL

Advantage: Texas Tech

The Red Raider offensive line has been stellar this season, allowing only seven sacks and run blocking for a 5.2 yards per carry average. Junior tackle Le’Raven Clark helps anchor this experienced unit and will be making his 35th consecutive start Saturday.

The revolving door keeps on spinning for the Texas offensive line and rightly so. The Longhorns rushed for only 3.3 yards per carry against Kansas State, and, as a result, redshirt freshman Darius James is expected to take the place of struggling sophomore tackle Camrhon Hughes.

DL

Advantage: Texas

The Longhorns have been showing a lot of three-man fronts recently, but that has not diminished the pass rush. Sophomore defensive end Caleb Bluiett is spending an increasing amount of time in the backfield, and the defensive tackles have played brilliantly.

The Red Raider defensive line has only registered four sacks on the season, but this can be overlooked if the run defense does its job. It hasn’t. Opponents have romped for 246.1 rushing yards per game — the eighth highest figure in the nation.  

LB

Advantage: Texas

The Texas linebackers keep improving as the season goes on. They have performed admirably against some of the best rushing attacks in the nation, and seniors Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond have combined for six sacks on the season.

If there is a strength to be found in the Texas Tech defense, it is the linebackers — Pete Robertson to be specific. The junior has wreaked havoc against the run and the pass, and he has accrued a team-leading 58 tackles to complement his eight sacks, which are also a team high.

DB

Advantage: Texas 

The defensive backs looked like the pride of the Longhorn defense early in the season, but they have struggled in their last two contests, and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford still insists on playing his best cover corner, senior Quandre Diggs, as a nickelback.

The Longhorn secondary has struggled in recent weeks, but Texas Tech’s has been historically awful. The Red Raiders just conceded 480 passing yards and seven passing touchdowns in an 82-27 collapse at the hands of TCU.

ST

Advantage: Texas Tech

Jakeem Grant is averaging a solid 24.7 yards per return. Kicking and punting have both been strengths for this team. Junior kicker Taylor Symmank has booted 11 punts inside the 20-yard line, and senior kicker Ryan Bustin has hit on 7-of-8 attempts.

The Longhorns played another game without a terrible special teams gaffe, but their performance was still underwhelming. Senior punter William Russ has been one of the few reliable players for this unit, but he averaged just 37.1 yards per punt against Kansas State.

CONTROL THE CLOCK

Texas has an immensely talented defense, including a couple of players who will continue to hone their craft in the NFL. However, when the defense is forced to stay on the field for almost two-thirds of the game, as it was against Kansas State, things will start to break down.

Texas’ inability to control the clock starts on third down. The offense is converting just 33.6 percent of third downs — one of the lowest numbers in the nation. The inability to keep drives alive has resulted in too many three-and-outs and has forced the defense to compete while its best players are still recovering from the previous drive.

The defense is not immune from third-down woes either. Texas allowed Kansas State to convert 9-of-17 third downs, including an uncomfortable number of third-and-longs.

Texas Tech’s offense is good enough to break the Longhorn defense if it stays on the field for too long. If Texas cannot run the ball successfully and execute on third down, the Longhorns can forget about beating the Red Raiders on the road. 

TURN UP THE PRESSURE

The Longhorn secondary has looked very shaky in its last two games, and it will get no respite against Texas Tech’s air-raid attack. As a unit, the defensive backs are not good enough to solve the problem themselves, but pass coverage becomes exponentially easier when the opposing quarterback is not given enough time to go through progressions and wait for routes to develop.

Texas Tech’s quarterback situation only increases the incentive for a disruptive pass rush. The Red Raiders’ regular starter, sophomore Davis Webb, suffered an ankle injury against TCU, and head coach Kliff Kingsbury says he will go with freshman Patrick Mahomes if Webb is not healthy enough to evade the pass rush.

Webb is good enough to make quick decisions if needed, but the hobbled sophomore could get uncomfortable quickly if he has to move around to evade pressure up the middle from sophomore Hassan Ridgeway and junior Malcom Brown. The secondary might be struggling, but a solid pass rush will hide its flaws and disrupt an injured Webb or an inexperienced Mahomes. 

SCORE WITHOUT THE OFFENSE

Texas Tech’s philosophy in recent years has been to complement an explosive offense with a defense that holds on just enough to win high scoring contests. This season, Kingsbury’s bunch has fulfilled only the former of those requirements, as they sport one of the worst defenses in the country. The offense is certainly good but is not the high-powered machine necessary to overcome such a poor defense.

That being said, the Longhorn offense is not potent enough to be counted on to take advantage of the Red Raiders’ defensive shortcomings. Texas will have to bolster the inconsistent offense with a big play or two on defense or special teams.

A return touchdown would be a godsend, but the return game has done nothing to prove it can provide such a boost. But, the defense does have enough talent to uncork some big plays. Sophomore safety Dylan Haines’ pick-six made the difference against Iowa State, and something similar will have to happen if the Longhorns are to match the Red Raider offense in Lubbock.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Tech QB Webb day-to-day with leg injury

Texas Tech has dealt with a lot of injury issues this season, and that list got a little longer this week. Sophomore quarterback Davis Webb left the Red Raiders’ 82-27 loss to TCU on Saturday with a left leg injury and was seen on the sidelines with crutches. On Monday, Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Webb is day-to-day going into the game against Texas.

“I just heard an ankle injury,” Kingsbury said in his weekly press conference. “That’s all I know at this point.”

If Webb is unable to go, freshman Patrick Mahomes will take over the starting quarterback duties. Mahomes is 12-of-23 for 119 yards and has thrown for two touchdowns and two interceptions in place of Webb this season.

OU’s Sanchez, TCU’s Carter named Thorpe Award semifinalists

The Big 12, known primarily for its offense, picked up two semifinalists for the award given to the nation’s best defensive back Monday. Oklahoma sophomore cornerback Zack Sanchez and TCU senior safety Sam Carter were named semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award. Sanchez leads the Big 12 with five interceptions, including a pick-six against Texas, and is third in the country in that category. Carter has recorded 26 total tackles, two pass deflections and two interceptions this season. Finalists for the award will be named on Nov. 24, and the winner will be announced on Dec. 11.

West Virginia’s White added to Maxwell watch list

Kevin White, West Virginia senior receiver, might have had his 100-yards-per-game streak snapped Saturday against Oklahoma State, but he received some exciting news this week, being named to the Maxwell Award watch list. Despite not being on the list in the preseason, White has put up monster numbers this season with 72 receptions, 1,047 receiving yards and eight touchdowns — all of which lead the Big 12. Up until last week, White had totaled at least 100 yards in each of his first seven games this season. The Maxwell Award is given to the best player in the country. White is not on the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, which recognizes the country’s best receiver.

Pair of Horned Frogs headline Big 12 weekly awards

TCU picked up a big win at home over Texas Tech on Saturday and was rewarded with two of its players being given the conference’s weekly awards. Junior quarterback Trevone Boykin was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for a school-record seven touchdown passes and zero interceptions. Boykin finished the game with 433 passing yards, putting him third in school history for single-game total passing yardage.

Junior kicker Jaden Oberkrom joined his teammate as the conference’s Special Teams Player of the Week after hitting all four of his field goals in the win. Three of his four kicks were from 43 yards and longer. In all, Oberkrom accounted for 22 points in the game, falling just short of the team record he set in 2012 against Texas Tech with 23 points.

Dante Barnett, Kansas State junior safety, rounded out the awards, earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week. Barnett had four pass break ups and seven tackles in the Wildcats’ shutout win over Texas.

1. Baylor

The Bears offense looked stoppable against Texas, but, after Oklahoma’s loss to TCU, they regain the top spot. Unlike in past years, they are a complete team. While their offense is still No. 1 in the nation after a shaky week, their defense is something to fear. Baylor has allowed only 12.4 points per game, fifth best in the country.

2. Oklahoma

This Sooner defense isn’t as good as it has been in years past, allowing 35 points per game in their two Big 12 matchups against TCU and West Virginia. After holding on to the top spot on this list and a No. 4 ranking in the nation, Oklahoma fell to an upstart TCU squad. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight isn’t having the big year many were hoping for. His fourth quarter pick-six was the difference. The Sooners should be able to turn it around, but they will need better play from Knight.

3. Kansas State

The Wildcats demolished Texas Tech, shutting down its offense. They forced sophomore quarterback Davis Webb into four interceptions, holding the offensive juggernaut to just 347 total yards. Kansas senior quarterback Jake Waters, who seems to be getting better each week, was incredibly efficient again, tossing four touchdowns while completing 77 percent of his passes. Their only loss was a tight one to Auburn, and that’s not too shabby.

4. TCU

With a shocker against Oklahoma, the Horned Frogs have turned themselves into a contender. Their offense behind junior quarterback Trevone Boykin and junior running back B.J. Catalon is balanced. They are averaging 42.8 points per game, good for No. 12 in the nation. But more impressive — and less surprising — is their defense. Even without the preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Devonte Fields, the Horned Frogs defense is allowing less than 14 points per game.

5. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys were sloppy in the first half and let a bad Iowa State team hang around. But, nevertheless, they have won four in a row behind an upstart offense. Dax Garman, since taking over in week two, is leading the efficient offense. They will be in the Big 12 race all season, as they don’t face Baylor and Oklahoma until the final two weeks.

6. West Virginia

For the fifth straight game, senior quarterback Clint Trickett threw for over 300 yards. With him at the helm, the Mountaineers won’t be a pushover. But, with a struggling defense on the other side of the ball, not much can be expected from them against tougher competition.

7. Texas

The defense looks great, but the offense does not. Swoopes’ performance against Baylor was abysmal, and the offense failed to get anything going at home. The good news, though, is that head coach Charlie Strong has the defense playing at a high level. They held Baylor senior quarterback Bryce Petty to 111 yards, which is no small feat.

8. Iowa State

They have found themselves hanging around better teams before ultimately falling short. But their ability to hang around is certainly a positive. Sooner, rather than later, they will be able to hang around just long enough to upset one of the teams ranked higher than them.

9. Texas Tech

Sophomore quarterback Davis Webb has thrown six interceptions in his last two games, as teams begin to make life difficult for him. As the only bright spot early on for Texas Tech, Webb’s star is getting dimmer and dimmer. That’s bad news for the conference’s
worst defense.

10. Kansas

Their offense is really bad. Their defense is pretty bad. Not much is going right for the Jayhawks off the field, either. With two wins already on the season, at least they had something to cheer for — because they may not get another one this year. The good news: just a little over a month until basketball season starts. 

Interim Kansas head coach Clint Bowen will be tasked with trying to turn the ship around for the Jawhawks, as Charlie Weis was fired after a little more than two years on the job. During his time in Lawrence, Kansas, Weis compiled a 5-22 record — the lowest winning percentage of any coach in Kansas history. While they did have a decent 2-2 record so far this year, the Jawhawks lost both games against tougher FBS teams — Duke and Texas — by a combined score of 64-3. Weis will collect the remaining $7 million on his contract with Kansas while still receiving the reported $19 million from his contract with Notre Dame, where he was fired from in 2009.

Texas Tech QB Webb a game-time Decision

Texas Tech’s sophomore quarterback Davis Webb will be a game-time decision for the Red Raiders against Kansas State, after injuring his non-throwing shoulder against Oklahoma State on Sept. 25. After taking a hard sack in the fourth quarter, Davis appeared to injure his left shoulder. After a visit to the locker room, he seemed ready to come back into the game, but head coach Kliff Kingsbury kept him out. Davis underwent an MRI last Saturday, but the results have not been made public. If Webb is unable to play, freshman Patrick Mahomes will likely get the start. Mahomes was 2-of-5 for 20 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception against Oklahoma State.

Garman, Hicks, Lockett take home Big 12 honors

After a breakout performance against Texas Tech last week, Oklahoma State junior Daxx Garman was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week for the first time in his collegiate career. Garman was 17-of-31 in the 45-35 win over the Red Raiders and passed for 370 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions and also added a rushing touchdown. His five total touchdowns were the most scores by a Cowboy quarterback in a Big 12 game since 2011.

Texas senior linebacker Jordan Hicks took home the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors after recording 15 tackles, a tackle for loss and an interception in the Longhorns’ 23-0 win over Kansas. Hicks was part of the Texas defense that posted its first road shutout since 2005.

Kansas State senior punt returner Tyler Lockett rounded out the Big 12 awards with the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honor following his performance in the Wildcats’ win over UTEP. Lockett had 143 punt return yards, including a 58-yard return for a touchdown, putting him second in school history for most single-game punt return yardage. Lockett finished with 256 all-purpose yards in the 58-28 win over the Miners.

1. Baylor (6-0, 3-0 Big 12)

After “struggling” against Kansas State, the Bears’ high-powered offense got back on track with a 71-point performance against lowly Iowa State. Baylor checked in at No. 8 in the initial BCS rankings and has a chance to enter the national championship conversation if they win out and get some help along the way.

 

2. Texas Tech (7-0, 4-0)

The Red Raiders trailed heading into the fourth quarter for the first time all season in Morgantown, but an impressive comeback led by freshman quarterback Davis Webb kept Tech’s perfect record intact. Webb was stellar in just his second career start, throwing for over 400 yards, two scores and no interceptions. He’ll be put to the test yet again this weekend in Norman.

 

3. Texas (4-2, 3-0)

A couple weeks after winning their first Golden Hat since 2009, the Longhorns head back to the Metroplex for a matchup with the Horned Frogs. The talent has been there all season, but Texas appears to be finding its identity now. Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown are making the Longhorns’ backfield as good as any in the country and the veteran offensive line is beginning to live up to expectations.

 

4. Oklahoma (6-1, 3-1)

The Sooners bounced back from their devastating Red River Rivalry loss with an easy win over Kansas, but the passing game continues to struggle. Their biggest play of the day came on a wide receiver pass while quarterback Blake Bell threw for only 131 yards. They’ll need more from him against Baylor and Texas Tech the next two weeks.

 

5. Oklahoma State (5-1, 2-1)

As bad as the quarterback play has been in Norman, it’s been worse in Stillwater. The Cowboys beat TCU, but quarterbacks Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh combined for no touchdowns and three interceptions in the game. They’ll need to be a whole lot better if they hope to get a win in Lubbock in a couple weeks.

 

6. West Virginia (3-4, 1-3)

The Mountaineers showed some promise in their loss against Texas Tech, leading most of the game. With all four teams below them on this list still on their schedule, there is still time for West Virginia to turn their season around and get into a bowl game.

 

7. TCU (3-4, 1-3)

The Horned Frogs continue to be the biggest disappointment in the Big 12, if not in the whole country. Casey Pachall’s return can’t come quick enough, as Trevone Boykin continues to struggle as the starting quarterback. If they don’t beat Texas this week, their chances to earn a bowl berth will be very slim.

 

8. Kansas State (2-4, 0-3)

The Wildcats’ conference record is a little misleading as their three Big 12 losses have come to Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma State by an average of just eight points per game. With that being said, a loss is a loss and if Bill Snyder’s bunch can’t beat West Virginia this weekend, their postseason dreams are all but crushed.

 

9. Kansas (2-4, 0-3)

Despite passing for just 16 yards, the Jayhawks held their own against Oklahoma last weekend, leading midway through the second quarter and pulling to within six points of the lead early in the fourth. Unfortunately for head coach Charlie Weis, Baylor comes to town this week. Can they hold the Bears under 70 points?

 

10. Iowa State (1-5, 0-3)

Through their first five games, the Cyclones hadn’t lost a game by more than eight points. That changed in Waco, where Baylor scored more than 10 times as many points as Iowa State. No, that is not a misprint. Giving up 71 to the Bears was hardly a surprise, but the Cyclones offense was even worse, tallying just 174 total yards while turning the ball over three times.

No. 10 Texas Tech vs. No. 17 Oklahoma

The Red Raiders have been crawling up in the rankings all season. Coming off a slow start against an unimpressive Kansas team and the lopsided loss against Texas still a stinging memory in the back of the Sooners’ minds, they are hungry for a victory, especially against a team from the Lone Star State. But the Sooners’ 9th-ranked defense has shown that it can have major slip-ups, which they can’t afford to have against Texas Tech, who boasts the second-most explosive passing offense in the nation. Oklahoma will have to keep its eyes to the skies if it wants to stop Tech’s freshman quarterback, Davis Webb. In a win over West Virginia last week, Webb broke the Red Raiders’ single-game freshman passing record with 462 passing yards -- in only his second start. 

 

No. 12 UCLA vs. No. 2 Oregon

On paper, Oregon has the clear advantage, but this season of college football has proved that paper can’t be trusted. The Ducks have been virtually unbeatable and will need to keep it up to maintain hopes of winning a national championship. But the Bruins are looking to pull off an upset to erase memories of their loss against Stanford. UCLA’s offense has averaged 39.8 points per game and 500.2 yards, standard numbers by Oregon’s standard. The Ducks average 57.6 points and 643.1 yards per game and likely get star running back DeAnthony Thomas’s back this week. This could be a serious uphill battle for the Bruins. 

 

No. 20 South Carolina vs. No. 5 Missouri

Coming off their second loss of the season against Tennessee, the Gamecocks have no choice but to pull off an upset if they want to keep their SEC title hopes alive. Quarterback Connor Shaw left last week’s game with a knee injury and there is no timetable for his return. Both teams will be playing with their backup quarterbacks -- South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson, who has seen plenty of action this year, and Missouri’s Maty Mauk, who will make his second start. Mauk will be hoping it goes something like his first, when he passed for 295 yards and a touchdown in a win over Florida.

 

No. 3 Florida State vs. North Carolina State 

Last year NC State was in almost exactly the same situation it’s in now. The Seminoles were ranked No. 3 with an undefeated record, while the Wolfpack were the clear underdogs. After allowing Florida State to take a 16-0 halftime lead, NC State came back to score 17 unanswered points and secure the upset. They proved they could surpass expectations. Now the question is: can they do it again? The Seminoles won’t make it easy. Last week, Florida State proved they are the elite team in the ACC by taking down one of their toughest opponents of the season. Not only did they defeat Clemson, they did it on the road in “Death Valley” by 37 points.