Teams across the Big 12 will be counting on players with plenty to prove this fall.
In this summer series, we’ll take a look at Big 12 players in the spotlight heading into 2015, including a closer look at three plays they made in 2014 that give their team reason for hope or cause for concern.
Reasons for hope
Scenario: Third-and-12 at Arkansas 39-yard line with Arkansas leading 35-21 with 5:49 left in the third quarter.
What happened: The Razorbacks dropped eight defenders into coverage, yet still got pressure on Webb as the play developed. The terrific play design freed Jakeem Grant down the middle of the field and Webb stepped into pressure in his face to make a quality throw over an Arkansas defender that hit Grant in stride after traveling 36 yards in the air. Grant made an easy catch for a 39-yard touchdown.
Reason for hope: Webb showed good anticipation and a willingness to stand in the pocket and take a hit to make a play. The play design — which had Grant running down the seam after a clearing route from Jordan Davis — worked to perfection, and Webb’s execution was just as good.
Scenario: Third-and-9 at Tech’s 32-yard line with the Red Raiders leading Oklahoma State 7-0 with 8:28 left in the first quarter.
What happened: The Cowboys dropped eight defenders, but it didn’t matter as Webb rifled a bullet between defenders to Bradley Marquez for a 19-yard reception on a hook route. It was a relatively small window in the Cowboys' zone coverage but Webb’s throw, which traveled 14 yards in the air on a line, was so good that Marquez was able to catch it and gain an extra five yards.
Reason for hope: It was the kind of throw that gave the Red Raiders confidence Webb could be the main man as a sophomore. If he makes throws like this and limits his mistakes, he can be a quality Big 12 quarterback.
Reasons for concern
Scenario: First-and-10 at Central Arkansas' 11-yard line with Tech leading 7-3 with 20 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
What happened: After a play-action fake, Webb rolled left. Unable to find a open receiver, Webb continued to drift left until he was finally pressured and made the decision try to fit the ball between defenders to Devin Lauderdale. His throw was behind Lauderdale and knocked into the air, allowing Central Arkansas' Dawson Hadnot to intercept the pass in the end zone.
Reason for concern: It was an bad decision, especially in the red zone on first down. All he had to do was toss the ball into the stands and get ready for second down. This play was a sign that Webb sometimes didn’t value the ball the way he should have as a sophomore.
In the spotlight: West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard
In the spotlight: Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph
In the spotlight: Baylor quarterback Seth Russell