Two days into the college football season, Baker Mayfield has already become the story of the year. Based on his play, he should not be stepping out of the spotlight any time soon.
The true freshman walk-on quarterback earned the Week 1 start against SMU after Michael Brewer was ruled out with a bad back, according to Jake Trotter of ESPN. He beat out other scholarship players like Davis Webb for the surprise start.
While most would think that a coach would be more conservative in this type of situation, new head coach Kliff Kingsbury went with a different strategy. Mayfield threw the ball 60 times in his debut, but he passed the test with flying colors.
The quarterback completed 43 of his 60 attempts for 413 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added an 11-yard rushing touchdown in the 41-23 win.
Additionally, he has already earned a lot of high praise for his performance.
Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports quoted assistant coach Eric Morris, who made a quality comparison:
#Tech asst Eric Morris who recruited Baker Mayfield said the FR QB reminds him of Case Keenum. Mayfield's debut: 40-56, 362 yds 3 TDs 0 INTs— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) August 31, 2013
Case Keenum, who played at Houston, is the NCAA all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. Interestingly, his quarterback coach at the time was Kingsbury, who also coached Johnny Manziel last season at Texas A&M.
ESPN's Fran Fraschilla compared the quarterback to a different player who went to college in Texas:
Texas Tech freshman walk-on QB, Baker Mayfield, has a little bit of Colt McCoy in him. Great poise.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) August 31, 2013
Mayfield's ability to come in with no experience at this level and succeed the way he did was nothing short of amazing. He showcased great accuracy and arm strength while also displaying confidence in the pocket.
At the very least, this is enough for him to finally earn a scholarship, according to Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News:
Kingsbury said his most famous walk-on QB had earned a scholarship now but added that his staff was still working "through those numbers."— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) August 31, 2013
It is unknown where this will come from, but the coaching staff is certain to figure out the numbers to secure the future of their newest superstar.
Still, the question remains about whether Mayfield can remain the starting quarterback for the duration of the season.
No matter who is at quarterback, the Red Raiders will want to throw the ball a lot. They will need someone with these qualities to not only survive but also thrive against the rest of the Big 12.
While Brewer is capable of carrying the offense as well, he is not much more experienced than Mayfield. He played well last year as Seth Doege's backup, but he still only had 48 pass attempts in actual games.
All of a sudden, Mayfield is the one with the most game experience on the roster.
Will Baker Mayfield remain the starting quarterback throughout the season?
Trotter reports that the sophomore is expected back on Oct. 5 against Kansas. Prior to that game, Texas Tech will have three home games, including a tough one against TCU. If Mayfield can perform well in these contests, there is no reason he should not hold onto the starting job for the rest of the year.
The Red Raiders already made a big gamble by sending out a non-scholarship player as the starting quarterback in the first game of the year. This risk paid off, and they now need to let it ride with the hot hand.
Based on what we have already seen, Mayfield will prove that he is not just a great story of determination and overcoming odds. Instead, he will also show that he is actually a good football player who can lead his team to a successful season.
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