NCF Nation: Derrick Mays

Tech plays to win in huge road victory

October, 19, 2013
10/19/13
7:30
PM ET

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- With a chance to run the clock out and kick a field goal, Kliff Kingsbury went for the kill instead.

And with a freshman quarterback, no less, in his first career road start.

But in the final minute of the fourth quarter, Davis Webb answered his coach’s cool confidence with a cool, confident touchdown pass, clinching Texas Tech’s 37-27 win Saturday at West Virginia.

[+] EnlargeDavis Webb
AP Photo/Chris JacksonFreshman quarterback Davis Webb, making his first road start, was 36-of-50 for 462 yards and two touchdowns in the Red Raiders' win over West Virginia.
“We talk about it all the time, fortune favors the bold,” Kingsbury said. “We’re going to go try win the game.

“We’re not going to leave it on anybody else.”

Kingsbury’s play-to-win attitude has the preseason pick to finish seventh in the league sitting at 7-0. And it has solidified the Red Raiders as legit contenders in a wild, wild Big 12 season heading into next weekend’s showdown at Oklahoma.

“That call showed how much trust Coach has in us,” said tight end Jace Amaro, who hauled in the 10-yard touchdown pass from Webb at the back of the end zone that put the Red Raiders up by two scores with 1:01 to play.

Kingsbury’s call especially showed trust in Webb, who has blossomed since losing the starting job in the preseason to freshman walk-on Baker Mayfield.

In Webb's first start last week, he broke the Texas Tech freshman passing record in a victory over Iowa State.

In Morgantown, Webb broke the record again.

He completed 36 of 50 passes for 462 yards and two touchdowns to also become the first Texas Tech freshman to throw for more than 400 yards in his first two starts.

“Losing the job really kicked him into overtime as far as determination and work ethic,” Kingsbury said of Webb, who, as a freshman, remains off limits to the media. “He has handled himself very well since.”

Webb was far from perfect Saturday. And his fumble at the West Virginia 1-yard line in the second quarter completely reversed momentum of the game. The Red Raiders led 13-3 and were primed to make it 20-3. But off a quarterback draw, Webb tried to embody his coach’s play-to-win attitude and went for the touchdown instead of sliding. At the goal line, three Mountaineers converged on Webb and popped the ball loose and West Virginia recovered. The Mountaineers answered with a 99-yard touchdown drive, and scored on five straight possessions to take a 27-16 lead in the third quarter.

“That one I was mad about, because we talk about sliding all the time; he's not the most nimble to try and do something like that, either,” Kingsbury said. “But he said, ‘I got you, Coach. I’ll make up for it.’ That’s the kind of kid he is.”

Webb more than made up for the fumble.

And the Texas Tech defense, which was on its heels for two quarters, finally gave him the opportunity to do it.

After the Mountaineers took the 11-point lead, the Red Raider defense allowed just one first down the rest of the way over West Virginia’s final five possessions.

Losing the job really kicked him into overtime as far as determination and work ethic. He has handled himself very well since.

Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury on quarterback Davis Webb.
“West Virginia had a lot of opportunities there (to put the game away),” linebacker Terrance Bullitt said. “But we never panicked. We were like, ‘Let’s go, let’s get this.’ We knew we were going to stop them. We stepped up as a defense, then the offense stepped up and put the game away.”

The drive before Webb’s final touchdown pass, West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett completed all three of his passes. But the Mountaineers still went three-and-out, as Texas Tech’s Bullitt, Derrick Mays and Bruce Jones all made sure tackles to force yet another punt.

“We knew if we got that stop, we were going to win the game,” said Amaro, who had another monster performance with nine catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns to fuel Texas Tech’s comeback.

“We got that stop.”

After that stop, the Red Raiders got the ball back with 4:30 still to play. But instead of just sitting on the ball, Tech gunned for first downs. On 3rd-and-6, Webb lofted a pass 27 yards downfield to Jordan Davis, who came down with the reception in coverage at the West Virginia 5.

Then three plays later on third-and-goal, Kingsbury called another daring pass. And Webb delivered.

“When we’ve had to have big drives, Davis has made them,” said Kingsbury, who was the first to meet Webb at the hashmarks to celebrate the score. “I’m really proud of how he handled himself in the fourth quarter.”

A fourth quarter Texas Tech played to win. And a win that stamped the Red Raiders as Big 12 contenders.
We're moving on with our 2011 postseason position rankings. Today, it's time for cornerbacks. If you missed it, here's how I ranked them in the preseason.

Here are the other position rankings we've done so far:
Depth is somewhat of a factor here, but I weighted it heavily toward the top two starters at the position.

[+] EnlargeCarrington Byndom
John Albright/Icon SMICarrington Byndom went up against some of the Big 12's top receivers and held his own.
1. Texas — The Longhorns duo of Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs were by far the league's best at limiting the big play. Both are physical. Both return. Beware, Big 12 offenses. In just their first year as starters, they helped the Longhorns lead the league in pass defense. Diggs, a true freshman, led the team with four interceptions. Until the regular-season finale against Baylor, Texas and Alabama were the only teams that hadn't given up a touchdown pass longer than 20 yards. Obviously, that's way, way more impressive in the Big 12.

2. Kansas State — K-State overachieved in a lot of ways this year, and perhaps nowhere more than at cornerback. Juco transfer Nigel Malone led the league with seven interceptions. Known entity David Garrett was even more solid, making 88 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. I ranked this unit 10th in the Big 12 before the season. They finished second. I was wrong.

3. Oklahoma — The Sooners' corners were good, but not great, and underachieved slightly. Jamell Fleming and Demontre Hurst are supremely talented, but were susceptible to big plays this year. Granted, everybody in the Big 12 was, but the Sooners ranked fourth in pass defense. Fleming broke up 10 passes and intercepted two more. Hurst broke up 11 and had an interception.

4. Oklahoma State — At times, Oklahoma State's Brodrick Brown was a legitimate shutdown corner. Justin Gilbert turned in a solid effort in his first year as a starter, which was much more important after a season-ending injury to Devin Hedgepeth in September. Gilbert picked off five passes, second-most in the Big 12.

5. Iowa StateLeonard Johnson was quietly an NFL prospect that put together a huge year. He was a big reason for ISU's upset of No. 2 Oklahoma State, and helped shut down Justin Blackmon. He finished with 71 tackles, eight pass breakups and a pick. Jeremy Reeves added two picks and seven pass breakups.

6. MissouriE.J. Gaines led the Big 12 with 16 pass breakups, and the Tigers ranked fifth in the Big 12 in pass defense. Fellow first-year starter Kip Edwards added a pick and three pass breakups.

7. Texas A&M — The team's top corner, Coryell Judie, was hampered by a hamstring injury all season, but production is production. It wasn't there for Judie, one of the league's top corners in 2010. Terrence Frederick had a good year with 13 pass breakups and a pick, but the Aggies were susceptible through the air all year. Lionel Smith and Dustin Harris filled in well in Judie's absence, but not well enough. A&M finished eighth in pass defense and helped five QBs set career highs for passing yardage in 2011.

8. BaylorK.J. Morton played well down the stretch for Baylor, but the Bears defense left a lot to be desired almost everywhere. They finished last in the Big 12 in pass defense, giving up over 290 yards a game. Morton picked off four passes and broke up six more. All four of his picks came in the final three games of 2011. Chance Casey broke up six passes and made 48 stops.

9. Texas Tech — How's this for irony? The Red Raiders actually finished second in the Big 12 in pass defense. It doesn't matter much. Tre' Porter had the only interception for a cornerback all season, and broke up two passes. Injuries were a problem all season. Cornelius Douglas, Derrick Mays, Jarvis Phillips and Sawyer Vest filled the unit, but Tech faced 61 fewer pass attempts than Kansas and 111 fewer than the next team in the Big 12. That's what happens when you can't stop the run. Doesn't mean the corners played well.

10. KansasGreg Brown picked off two passes and broke up three more. Isiah Barfield made 35 tackles and broke up five passes. The Jayhawks ranked ninth in the Big 12 in pass defense. They didn't get much of a pass rush to help the corners, but the corners were very poor in 2011.
We'll move on to the cornerbacks today in our position rankings across the Big 12.

Here's what we've covered so far:
This group? Well, it's not very good. And considering the crazy depth in the Big 12 at receiver, it could be a long season for cornerbacks in this league. I love the upside of many of the Big 12 corners -- namely the guys at Missouri and Texas Tech (especially working with Chad Glasgow's 4-2-5 in Lubbock). Texas could also develop fast in its new defense, but outside of Texas A&M and Oklahoma, I don't see any Big 12 teams that should be completely comfortable with their cornerbacks.

Of course, for fans who love points, this could be a welcome development. For secondary coaches and defensive coordinators? Not so much.

[+] EnlargeJamell Fleming
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireJamell Fleming returns as the Big 12's top cornerback.
1. Oklahoma -- Jamell Fleming is the Big 12's top returner at the position and gives the Sooners a huge boost after being reinstated last week. Fleming had withdrawn from the university because of academic problems following the season. Aaron Colvin moved to safety during the offseason, but Fleming will still have to beat out Gabe Lynn in fall camp to start opposite Demontre Hurst. Julian Wilson also adds depth.

2. Texas A&M -- Fleming's return pushed the Sooners over A&M as having the Big 12's best group of corners. But Coryell Judie and Terrence Frederick could both challenge for first team All-Big 12 honors at the position. They are ahead of reserves Dustin Harris and Lionel Smith, who will get plenty of time on the field.

3. Missouri -- Missouri loses starters Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland, but the coaches consider Kip Edwards a returning starter because of how much he played last season. Edwards could join E.J. Gaines in eventually becoming better than both Gettis and Rutland. Trey Hobson and Robert Steeples will get time in the rotation, too.

4. Oklahoma State -- OSU has to replace the Big 12's interception leader Andrew McGee , but Brodrick Brown's development should continue. He's likely a dark horse to earn first-team All-Big 12 honors after the season. The Cowboys didn't release a post-spring depth chart, but don't be surprised if return specialist Justin Gilbert edges out Devin Hedgepeth for the starting spot before the opener. Andrae May has earned playing time on special teams in both of his first two seasons on campus, but could be counted on for a much bigger role this year as the fourth corner.

5. Texas -- The Longhorns are fairly decimated at corner after losing three to the NFL in one offseason. Curtis and Chykie Brown joined Aaron Williams for one of the most talented sets of corners we've seen in this league, but now, secondary coach Duane Akina will have to replace them. Texas' depth chart is still as in flux as any in college football, but I'd be surprised if Carrington Byndom didn't emerge with a starting spot. True freshman Quandre Diggs might swipe the other, but Eryon Barnett and A.J. White will be on the field, too.

6. Texas Tech -- The Red Raiders are likely to ascend this list by season's end, but for now, find themselves at No. 6. Injuries were costly for the defense last season, but Tre Porter and Derrick Mays should be much better, and Tech fans can be encouraged by the upside in Jarvis Phillips, Jeremy Reynolds and Eugene Neboh.

7. Iowa State -- This group might be a bit underrated, but with Iowa State's defensive problems last season, it's a bit hard to tell. Jeremy Reeves and Leonard Johnson return with loads of experience, and Anthony Young is a great additional piece as the third corner. Matthew Thomas should be in the rotation, too.

8. Baylor -- The Bears return both starters. Chance Casey has 15 career starts to Tyler Stephenson's four, but the Bears secondary struggled last season, especially the corners. Tuswani Copeland should be on the field, and Romie Blaylock offers some experience as a senior under new coordinator Phil Bennett, whose work is cut out for him at this spot.

9. Kansas -- Kansas loses Chris Harris from last season's team, but Isiah Barfield is a playmaker at the position. Greg Brown, Tyler Patmon and Anthony Davis fill out the group.

10. Kansas State -- The Wildcats have a huge talent in David Garrett, who led the team in tackles last season and was the nation's leader in tackles for loss, but he's still just one player at a position that needs lots of depth in this league. Also, his coverage leaves a bit to be desired. For now, K-State doesn't look like it has that necessary depth. Terrance Sweeney and Stephen Harrison are gone, but the Wildcats need to find more talents at the position in fall camp. Watch for Thomas Ferguson to emerge as the other starter.

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