Over the next two weeks, we'll be featuring 10 Big 12 players who are on the spot this spring. Maybe they are coming back from injury. Maybe they have much to prove after a disappointing 2013 season. Maybe they are embroiled in a key position battle. Whatever the case, this spring is big for them.
Today's player on the spot: Texas Tech QB Davis Webb
This time last year, the expectations for Webb were unbridled. For good reason, too. Webb was coming off a National University Holiday Bowl in which he torched Arizona State and threw touchdown passes on the Red Raiders first four possessions. A preseason illness had set Webb back, forcing him to drop almost 40 pounds. But by the spring, he had put that weight back and them some. Counting the bowl game and Tech's spring scrimmages, Webb finished with 17 touchdowns and no interceptions, suggesting he might be in for a monster sophomore season.
That didn't happen.
Webb struggled with turnovers out of the gate, seemingly forcing the issue with his arm when the Red Raiders sputtered. After sluggish wins over Central Arkansas and UTEP, Tech lost four in a row. In those four games, Webb tossed nine picks.
“I think when you go back and watch the film, he did some good things,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said at the beginning of spring ball. "But regressed in some areas as far as how he handled himself in the pocket, threw off his back foot a bunch and turned the ball over a bunch, which we can’t do."
An ankle injury sidelined Webb the final four games, but even if he had returned early, he probably wouldn't have started. That's because true freshman Patrick Mahomes shined in his absence. Mahomes threw 14 touchdowns with just two picks in Tech's final three games, and he almost led the Red Raiders to an upset of Baylor in their final game of the season.
Kingsbury has stopped short of naming Mahomes the starter for 2015. Which has slightly cracked the door for Webb to begin reclaiming his job this spring. So far, the returns on Webb have been positive, even though he's recovering from offseason surgery on his non-throwing left shoulder.
“He looks good,” Kingsbury told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal two weeks ago. “He’s throwing the ball real well, looks good. If we were playing a game and we were live [hitting] on quarterbacks, he wouldn’t go. But since we’re not tackling quarterbacks, he’s been able to do everything.”
It will be interesting to see how much Webb will be able to do this spring with the shoulder still healing. But with Mahomes also playing baseball this spring, Webb has a prime opportunity to close the gap in the quarterback competition before the summer.
“I think he may have been forcing some things [last season] and trying to make everything happen instead of letting the game come to him at times," Kingsbury said. "But he puts in the work, works as hard as anybody I’ve ever been around, and good things happen to those type of players.”