Davis Webb’s interceptions, Kingsbury’s searching signify Texas Tech’s struggles

Texas Tech sophomore quarterback Davis Webb has mixed 16 touchdowns with 10 interceptions this season.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — There’s a sophomore slump afoot at Texas Tech, or rather slumps, as in plural. Quarterback Davis Webb is firing interceptions at an alarming rate and second-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury seems answerless as to why the Red Raiders aren’t executing.

Facing the prospects of its first 0-3 conference start since 1990, Texas Tech finds itself a touchdown home underdog as West Virginia visits Saturday.

The Red Raiders (2-3, 0-2), so clutch in the fourth quarter when these teams met in Morgantown last season, are averaging more turnovers per game than all but four FBS teams. Of the 15 give-aways, 10 have come on Webb interceptions.

Though he also has thrown 16 touchdowns, Webb’s mistakes have been game-changers—not what Kingsbury envisioned last spring upon claiming his quarterback had talent worthy of an NFL “top-five pick.”

“I would say the mental mistakes that show up in the games aren’t made in practice,” Kingsbury said. “I think there’s a lot of nervous energy that’s showing up. Fundamentals, techniques aren’t translating from the practice field onto the game field.”

Webb was particularly shaky while throwing four interceptions during a 45-13 beatdown at Kansas State last week. That means Webb is being picked off once every 22.5 passes this fall, whereas his freshman rate was once every 40 attempts.

“I put too much pressure on myself when things aren’t going right and guys aren’t getting open as much as they usually do or we aren’t running the ball as we usually do,” he said. “I put the pressure on myself and say, ‘We’ve got to make a better play and force this,’ instead of just calming down and let our guys make the plays.”

Kingsbury inserted true freshman backup Patrick Mahomes when Webb injured his non-throwing shoulder in a 45-35 loss at Oklahoma State on Sept. 25. There are no designs on opening up the quarterbacks competition, however.

“(The interceptions are) a combination of everything: bad play calls, tough reads and not being in the right spot,” Kingsbury said. “It’s not on one person.”

Webb hopes another matchup against West Virginia (3-2, 1-1) will be the panacea—after all, he was 36-of-50 passing for 462 yards and two scores in the last meeting when Texas Tech erased a double-digit deficit to win 37-27.

Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said he still sees “the same Davis Webb he was last year when he came out here and beat us the second half.” But last year’s Red Raiders offense had All-American tight end Jace Amaro, who’s now starting for the New York Jets.

While West Virginia has struggled to stop the run, it ranks 21st nationally in pass defense (186 yards per game)) and 25th in pass-efficiency defense. Plus the Mountaineers could have cornerback Daryl Worley in the lineup after his return from a two-game suspension for allegedly assaulting a woman at a nightclub last month.

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