Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury Steps on Big Stage, but Who Steps Up on Offense?

Ben KerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterAugust 29, 2013

Oct 13, 2012; Lubbock, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders tight end Jace Amaro (22) runs with the ball against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the second half at Jones AT&T Stadium. Texas Tech won 49-14. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

First-year Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury is staying mum about who will start at quarterback this Friday against SMU. About the only thing we do know is that whoever plays will be a freshman: either Davis Webb, who enrolled in January, or walk-on Baker Mayfield.

Or, both will see the field against the Mustangs as sophomore Michael Brewer sits out with what is being reported as a stress fracture in his back, according to Kirk Bohls of the Austin-American Statesman

Though going to Dallas should have a more neutral site feel than a true road game for the Red Raiders, playing a true freshman right out of the gate is probably not what Kingsbury had in mind. 

Without underselling the capabilities of either Mayfield or Webb, it's obvious that other offensive playmakers are going to have to step up. 

That starts in the running game, where TTU has some underrated depth. Kenny Williams is back after leading the team in rushing a year ago, and DeAndre Washington returns after redshirting in 2012 to recover from a knee injury. Both should be in the rotation for considerable playing time. 

Kingsbury's offense at Texas A&M was more balanced than you might initially think. That can be attributed largely to the scrambling of one Johnny Manziel, but don't expect the Red Raiders to come out Friday ready to pass the ball 70 times. TTU doesn't need to run the ball on every down, but they do need to run effectively. 

If the ground game can get going, a favorite target in the passing game should be tight end Jace Amaro. At 6'5" and 260 pounds, the junior is a huge target in the slot for TTU's short-to-intermediate passing game. Before being sidelined midway through last season with an injury, Amaro was the team's leading receiver. 

Playing a freshman quarterback will be interesting for Kingsbury, who said during his conference call on Monday that he holds all his quarterbacks to high expectations regardless of class. But the Red Raiders have some veteran weapons to take the pressure off whichever quarterback sees the field. 

Ben Kercheval is the Lead Writer for Big 12 football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow him on Twitter @BenKercheval.