QB health an issue for No. 16 Texas Tech, WVU
Keeping quarterbacks healthy has been a challenge so far this season for No. 16 Texas Tech and West Virginia.
Neither team's coach has yet to disclose which signal caller will start when the Red Raiders (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) play the Mountaineers (3-3, 1-2) for the first time in Morgantown on Saturday.
The Red Raiders' Kliff Kingsbury hasn't indicated whether Davis Webb will get his second start or if Baker Mayfield will return from injury. Both are freshmen.
West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen said he'll make a game-time decision Saturday on his starter. Florida State transfer Clint Trickett started the last two games but had been bothered by a sore throwing shoulder.
The Mountaineers are coming off a bye week after stumbling at No. 12 Baylor 73-42 two weeks ago. During the break, Trickett was healthy enough to go dove and quail hunting last weekend in Tallahassee, Fla.
Paul Millard and Ford Childress also have started two games apiece. Millard is available, but Holgorsen said Childress is out indefinitely with a torn pectoral muscle.
Mayfield, who's averaging 298 yards passing per game, twisted his right knee two weeks ago in a win at Kansas. Webb threw for 415 yards and three touchdowns in his starting debut, a 42-35 win over Iowa State last week. Also in the mix is redshirt sophomore Michael Brewer, who's played one game and has yet to attempt a pass.
''We'll see if we have all three available this week,'' Kingsbury said. ''We'll get as many reps to each guy as we can, and play the one that we feel gives us the best chance to win a game every week.''
While Mayfield and Webb have thrived, none of West Virginia's quarterbacks have consistently moved the offense in the post-Geno Smith era. But they could use some help.
''We are still trying to figure out how to do things well, instead of getting to a point offensively where you're trying to focus on what the defense is doing and how to attack it successfully,'' Holgorsen said. ''With an average offense and a lot of inexperience at key positions, it is tough to get first downs on second-and-5, let alone third-and-5.''
Here are five things to watch for as the Red Raiders prepare to play the Mountaineers:
COACH vs. COACH: Kingsbury and Holgorsen are going head-to-head for the first time as coaches. Kingsbury was the Red Raiders' quarterback from 1999-02. Holgorsen was the team's wide receivers coach from 2000-04 and added offensive coordinator duties from 2005-07. They were assistant coaches under Kevin Sumlin at Houston. Kingsbury credits Holgorsen for securing a job at Houston for him in 2008 and the pair ended up living together. ''I have a ton of respect for him and I wouldn't be here right now if it weren't for him,'' Kingsbury said.
RUNNING CHALLENGE: Texas Tech has the Big 12's second-best offense but is averaging just 135 yards rushing per game. The Red Raiders had a season-high 251 yards rushing last week, with DeAndre Washington, Kenny Williams and Sadale Foster each gaining at least 80. West Virginia's Charles Sims, who's fourth in the conference at 80 yards per game, will go up against a Texas Tech defense that leads the Big 12 in the fewest yards rushing with an average of 113.
STILL SMARTING D: West Virginia was the last team in the Big 12 to have a bye week and the Mountaineers needed it to try to forget the defensive disaster at Baylor. The 73 points and 864 yards surrendered to the Bears plummeted West Virginia to next-to-last in the conference ahead of Iowa State in scoring defense and total defense. ''I felt we took two steps backward against Baylor,'' said defensive coordinator Keith Patterson. ''Now, we just kind of hit the restart button and are trying to get off on the right foot again.''
UNSPECIAL TEAMS: Texas Tech allowed a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last week, and a punt went off a Red Raiders player that Iowa State recovered and the Cyclones scored a few plays later. Kingsbury said he's made some lineup changes on special teams. ''Hopefully we'll get that fixed this week,'' he said.
RED RAIDERS ROAD: Texas Tech's first trip to the Eastern time zone in three years and first visit to West Virginia is the start of a challenging schedule in the second half of the season. The Red Raiders have four road games, including a showdown next week at No. 18 Oklahoma. After home games with Kansas and No. 21 Oklahoma State, there's a neutral-site game with No. 12 Baylor on Nov. 16 in Arlington, Texas. The Red Raiders finish the regular season at Texas.