The Big 12, and Texas Tech in particular, is very much quarterback driven, so it’s no wonder sophomore gun slinger Davis Webb is writing most of the headlines this spring.
Webb hasn’t thrown an interception since November 2, and has since tossed 18 touchdowns in games against Kansas State and Arizona State and in spring practice. His arm strength has improved as well with an additional 20 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame, adding a very noticeable zip to his throws.
“The whole spring and all of the scrimmages, I don’t think he turned it over one time and that is how he has been at practice,” Kingsbury told the media after the spring game. “He is night and day from what he was at this time last year and being a vocal leader. I am really impressed with him.”
But Webb will be the first to tell you that a lot of the credit for his rise goes to the receivers catching his throws. His 18 touchdown passes since Nov. 2 went to nine different receivers and eight of them are still on the team, namely Jakeem Grant (4), Bradley Marquez (4), Reginald Davis (2),running back Quinton White (2), fullback Rodney Hall (2), D.J. Polite-Bray (1), Jordan Davis (1) and Dylan Cantrell (1).
What’s exciting is only four of those guys are starters at their positions. Those 18 throws totaled an eye-popping 443 yards (24.6-yard average) and 60 percent of those yards (271) came after the catch, clearly illustrating the explosiveness of Tech’s receiving corp.
The identity of this year’s group is somewhat different. Jace Amaro and Eric Ward, Tech’s leading receivers last year, made a living on tough, physical catches in coverage. But this season, starters Davis, Grant, Marquez and Polite-Bray are all speedsters who’d just as soon run by their opponents as out-muscle them at the point of attack. Especially with Davis and Polite-Bray on the outside, expect to see a more vertical passing attack from the Red Raiders this fall.
But Marquez and Grant inside shouldn’t be ignored. They’re the elder statesmen of the group and they bring a lot of toughness and speed to their slot positions. Marquez, who’s been in the two-deep at both outside positions since his freshman year, is making a seamless transition to Y in Tech’s four-wide spread attack.
“This will be the third position (Marquez) knows,” receivers coach Eric Morris told the Lubbock A-J a few weeks back. “He’s a super smart kid that you tell him once, he knows it, goes out there, executes it.”
Grant, arguably the most electric slot receiver at Tech since Carlos Francis, is coming off a year where he put up big numbers as a sophomore, but also rode the bench in the season finale against Texas. Apparently he got the message from coach Morris and used the experience as motivation, because he torched Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl and embarrassed his teammates on defense in the spring game.
“Since he didn’t start at the end of the season, Jakeem’s been a whole new man,” Morris said. “Some kids go in the dumps when you sit them down and some kids respond and are better than they’ve ever been. Jakeem was definitely the latter.”
Much will be expected from the veterans inside and the potential of the two sophomores outside is exciting. If all four can put it together in 2014, Davis Webb will look very, very good pitching the rock around in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense.
“We have a chance to be a really good team,” Webb said following the spring game. “We’re flying under the radar and that’s what we want and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t expect this team to be one of the best teams to ever play at Texas Tech.”
So what do you think? Who will be Webb’s favorite target and Tech’s leading receiver this year? If your guy isn’t on the list, please leave a comment in the discussion section below and tell us who you’re picking.
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