A season-opening road game against a dangerous opponent seems like one of the worst possible situations in which to give a true freshman quarterback his first action, much less first start. But first-year Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury won't have any choice when his
Red Raiders travel to SMU Friday.
That is to say that he won't have a choice about starting a true freshman, not after projected sophomore starter Michael Brewer aggravated a back injury during fall workouts. But per the Associated Press, Kingsbury is at least able to choose which true freshman will get the call. The race is down to Prosper, Texas three-star Davis Webb and Austin, Texas walk-on Baker Mayfield.
"The offenses both these kids come from are very similar to what we run, similar to what we had with Johnny [Manziel] last year," Kingsbury said, per the AP. "They feel comfortable in it because that's what they played in through their high school careers."
That comfort level has helped Kingsbury approach them as he would more experienced quarterbacks, even as he also said "you don't want them to think too much."
"I tell them all the time if I coach them like freshmen, they'll play like freshmen," Kingsbury said. "So I coach them like they've been in the system for three years and expect those results ... I think they'll be ready to go."
The strong-armed, 6-foot-4 Webb would seem to have the edge on paper after coming in for spring camp. But Mayfield isn't a typical walk-on; a three-star recruit in his own right, he turned down scholarship offers from Rice and others to play for Kingsbury in Lubbock.
Whichever freshman earns the start will have the honor of becoming the first-ever true freshman to start a season opener at Tech -- and will do so at an SMU team coming off a massive bowl victory, whose only 2012 home losses came to Texas A&M and TCU. The Red Raiders are favored by less than a touchdown.
So, yeah, no pressure, guys.