Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury must have been beaming inside while watching true freshman quarterback Davis Webb overwhelm Arizona State’s defense with his efficient play in the Red Raiders’ 37-23 National University Holiday Bowl win.
The bowl game was the high point, but Webb sure didn’t seem to play like a freshman all season, finishing 226-of-361 for 2,718 yards with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The Red Raiders went 3-3 with Webb as a starter with losses to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. Webb, however, handled pressure and playing in big games better than most true freshmen would have.
With Baker Mayfield and Michael Brewer electing to transfer, the Red Raiders hopes will be placed squarely on Webb’s shoulders next fall. Let’s take a closer look at Webb’s first season, thanks to ESPN Stats and Information, and how those numbers could impact 2014.
Webb handled the blitz extremely well for a true freshman. He was 38-of-68 for 521 yards with seven touchdowns and zero interceptions against the blitz. While his 55.9 completion percentage wasn’t outstanding, Webb’s ability to take care of the ball when pressured should make Kingsbury feel good about building an offense around him in 2014. Impact in 2014: One of Webb’s strengths is his ability to remain focused in the pocket. It’s a trait that’s hard to teach yet he already possesses it. Kingsbury should have confidence that Webb can handle lots of different situations as a sophomore.
Arizona State clearly felt like it could disrupt the Red Raiders offense with pressure. But Webb handled it well in his best game of the season. He was 14-of-23 for 163 yards and three touchdowns when the Sun Devils blitzed. He was 14-of-18 for 240 yards and one touchdown against no blitz. Impact in 2014: The Red Raiders should be encouraged that Webb excelled against a defense that repeatedly brought pressure. Defenses often turn to pressure and blitzing when they realize it’s difficult to stop a passing offense. That was the Sun Devils’ approach and the Red Raiders should expect other teams to take a similar approach in 2014, even though Webb handled it well in the Holiday Bowl.
Most of Webb’s success came on throws from the pocket. He was 209-of-319 for 2,454 yards with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions on pocket passes. Outside of the pocket he was 17-of-42 for 257 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Impact in 2014: Expect teams to try to flush Webb out of the pocket and force him to throw on the run until he proves he can excel and make defenses pay when he’s throwing outside of the pocket.
Against Oklahoma, who finished No. 1 in the Big 12 in passing yards per game, Webb was better against the blitz than the Sooners base defense. He was 8-of-12 for 82 yards and one touchdown when the Sooners blitzed. He was 25-of-41 for 295 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions when OU did not blitz. Impact in 2014: Webb needs to improve when teams just drop back into coverage. He had some success in those scenarios but he didn’t force defenses to leave their comfort level as a true freshman. That could be the next progression for Webb as a sophomore, although it’s easier said than done.