Coach Kliff Kingsbury didn't have the pressure of being the regular starting quarterback as a true freshman during his playing days at Texas Tech, but he knows Davis Webb is handling his situation as well as anyone could expect.
He's confident Webb can continue playing at a high level despite facing his most difficult challenge yet, as the 10th-ranked Red Raiders visit No. 17 Oklahoma and its top-ranked pass defense in a Big 12 showdown Saturday.
Kingsbury first named freshman walk-on Baker Mayfield the starting quarterback, and Mayfield guided Texas Tech (7-0, 4-0) to five victories before suffering a knee injury in a 54-16 win over Kansas on Oct. 5.
The offense hasn't missed a beat behind Webb, though, as he became the first Red Raiders freshman to pass for at least 400 yards in his first two starts in last week's 37-27 comeback win at West Virginia.
Webb finished 36 of 50 for 462 yards and a pair of 10-yard touchdown passes to Jace Amaro. His performance broke Billy Joe Tolliver's freshman record of 422 yards set in 1985 as he helped erase an 11-point, third-quarter deficit.
Texas Tech is off to its best start since winning its first 10 in 2008 before falling to Oklahoma.
"The more reps he gets, the better he gets and the more confidence he gets," said Kingsbury, who played quarterback for the Red Raiders from 1999-2002. "It's encouraging to have a young QB like that and have guys step up around him and make those plays."
Texas Tech is second to Baylor in the Big 12 in scoring at 41.1 points per game, and its 548.1 total yards per contest rank sixth in the nation. An average of 416.4 of those yards come through the air, a mark that is second in the country behind Oregon.
The Red Raiders' high-powered offense could have a more difficult time putting up big numbers against an Oklahoma defense that ranks ninth in the country with 293.4 yards allowed per game.
The Sooners (6-1, 3-1) lead the nation by giving up an average of 149.7 passing yards and held Kansas to 201 total yards and 16 through the air - the fewest passing yards they've allowed since beating Arkansas in the 2002 Cotton Bowl - in last week's 34-19 win.
"Their defense schematically has changed a bunch from last year," Kingsbury said. "They're very athletic, fundamentally sound and will be a big challenge for a young quarterback."
Kingsbury, though, believes Texas Tech still has plenty of room to grow.
"It's a challenge any time you play in that stadium," Kingsbury said. "We'll have to play our best game. The exciting part for me right now is I know we haven't played close to our best game."
Coach Bob Stoops must have a similar feeling as the Sooners' offense hasn't been very consistent lately. After gaining 263 yards in a 36-20 loss to Texas on Oct. 12, it finished with 450 against the Jayhawks.
Blake Bell went 15 of 25 for 131 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while six players helped Oklahoma gain 235 yards on the ground. Stoops hopes the offense can control possession to help out the defense against Texas Tech.
"You have to play well as a team," Stoops said. "Offense is part of defense. When you play teams that have high-powered offenses, you've got to stay on the field too. You play together as a team. You have to complement one another, offensively and defensively. Hopefully we can do that."
The Red Raiders gave up no more than 311 total yards in the previous three games before allowing 437 against West Virginia.
"We need to be able to be more efficient in the pass game to open the run game up," Sooners offensive lineman Gabe Ikard said. "We need to be able to stretch the field vertically. We're not far off from being a great offense. We just need to put it all together."
Oklahoma won last season's meeting 41-20, but Texas Tech upset No. 3 Oklahoma 41-38 on Oct. 22, 2011, in its last trip to Norman.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football