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LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has been here before.
The Red Raiders' second-year coach has worked with four freshmen starting quarterbacks in the past, mostly with success.
Heading into a matchup at No. 23 Kansas State on Saturday, Kingsbury might have to start freshman Patrick Mahomes, the Texas Associated Press Sports Editors high school football player of the year in 2013.
Sophomore starter Davis Webb is probably a game-day decision after a shoulder injury to his non-throwing arm in the fourth quarter of Texas Tech's 45-35 loss at Oklahoma State last week.
"Just make sure he can protect himself, really, and operate at a level we need him to operate," Kingsbury said of what it would take for Webb to play. "But more than anything, that he can handle taking a hit and protect himself."
A sizeable threat to Webb could be Kansas State defensive end Ryan Miller, who needs one more sack to enter the career top 10 for the Wildcats (3-1, 1-0 Big 12).
He scrambled up the middle on third-and-14 and landed awkwardly on his left forearm. He left the field briefly with trainers holding his left arm gingerly.
Webb, who ranks eighth nationally in yards passing per game (339 yards), wasn't made available to reporters after Monday's practice. Kingsbury said Webb's shoulder was sore Sunday, three days after the Red Raiders (2-2, 0-1) lost in Stillwater.
Kingsbury's has had success with previous freshman quarterbacks. He coached David Piland at Houston in 2010, Johnny Manziel in 2012 at Texas A&M, and Webb and Baker Mayfield, who transferred to Oklahoma, last year.
This season, it's Mahomes, the son of Pat Mahomes, who played for six major league baseball teams in an 11-year career. After Webb went out, Mahomes rushed for 16 yards on seven carries and threw for one TD and an interception.
Mahomes is a dual-threat quarterback, but nothing like Manziel, Kingsbury said. Mahomes' strength is at extending plays.
"I think he just has that knack," he said. "Anytime we put him in, it's not always pretty, but he finds a way to move the ball down and put it in the end zone."
Mahomes figured pitching in baseball — he also played basketball at Whitehouse in East Texas — was his only option beyond high school. But a Texas Tech assistant just happened to be there when Mahomes had an impressive game in a rainstorm and took over the starting job in the third game of his junior season, after playing safety his sophomore year.
Kingsbury's biggest concern with Mahomes is protecting the football, "as you are with any of those young quarterbacks."
Bradley Marquez, who leads the Red Raiders' receiving corps with six touchdowns, said Mahomes is no stranger to starting games.
"That being his first real (college) game action, I mean, it's to be expected that things may not run as smoothly as maybe they would with Davis, obviously," the senior receiver said. "There are obviously going to be nerves, but from the perspective as a teammate, I felt like he wanted to go out there and do his absolute best."