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Texas Tech Offensive Player to Watch: Patrick Mahomes

Tech's QB has grown up and the Frogs will need steady defense to bring him down.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

A year ago, Patrick Mahomes didn't pose any threat to TCU.  In fact, the true freshman wasn't Tech's starter until Davis Webb was injured during our game against them last year.  You know, that game we won 82-27?  Mahomes went 5 of 11 for 45 yards passing.  He had a touchdown but also had an interception.  And he ran for just 18 yards.  This week, Majomes will face Trevone Boykin in what could be quite a showdown in Lubbock.

Mahomes came out of high school as a 4-star recruit from Whitehouse High School.  Rivals named him the #12 quarterback and #50 overall player in Texas.  He had a perfect 10-0 record during regular season play his senior year and threw for 4,619 yards and 50 touchdowns.  In addition to playing football, he also plays baseball for Tech.  As the son of former MLB pitcher Pat Mahomes, he also pitches and plays outfield for Tech's baseball team.

After seven games for Tech football in 2014, Mahomes ended the year completing 105 of 185 passes for 1,547 yards.  He had 16 touchdown passes and rushed for 104 yards.  He also threw four interceptions.  He admitted that he needed to work on consistency, particularly on the easy plays.

But this year is different.  The freshman has grown up since the embarrassing loss last year.  And though he's still just a sophomore, his pre-Big 12 play shows he won't be intimidated by anyone.  In an upset against Arkansas last week, Mahomes actually blocked strong safety Rohan Gaines downfield (start watching around one minute), allowing running back DeAndrew Washington a bigger gain.  Forty seconds and two plays later, Tech was in the endzone.  Mahomes went 26 of 30 for 243 yards passing and 58 yards running on 10 carries against Arkansas.  He also had two touchdowns.

So far this season, Mahomes is 77 of 116 for 1,029 total yards passing.  He's thrown for nine touchdowns, has four scoring runs, and three interceptions (same interceptions as Boykin).  Here are the two QBs compared:

Mahomes' biggest impact seems to be in the leadership role he's taken on with the team.  Of course, most quarterbacks tend to be viewed as a team leader, but Mahomes seems to have something particularly special with fellow teammates.  In an interview, Washington said, "The way he's played, it's trickled down, not only to the offense but the whole team. Seeing him making special plays, the team feeds off his energy.  That has carried us these first (three) games."  Kliff Kingsbury has also said, "He plays with a certain spirit, where (the players) never know what's going to happen, where they think everything is possible, and we've got a chance in every game.  You can see they're inspired by some of the plays he makes...That has helped build confidence."

There are three key things you pick up on after watching Mahomes on film:

1.  He makes good use of DeAndrew Washington.

2.  He's versatile.

3.  He knows how to use the center of the field.

In order to beat Mahomes, the Frogs' defense should have two focuses.  Our secondary has to have the coverage.  We can't let their receivers get behind us and we can't let their running backs get past us like we did with SMU.  They have to be shut down.  Mahomes can run and play the option like a champ, so pass coverage is key.  Our defensive line needs to block and collapse that pocket, forcing Mahomes to make quick (and hopefully poor) decisions.  He's quick, but if the pocket collapses, he won't be able to run it straight up the middle, which he took good advantage of against Arkansas.

Personally, I see Tech as being similar to SMU.  I think the Mustangs proved to be great preparation for the Frogs last week.  But the defense can't wait until the fourth quarter to make great stops.  Mahomes will bring pressure on early, and the Frogs will need to come out fighting* to stop him.

*Please note:  I don't mean actually fighting.  I mean it figuratively, Frogs.  If we give up another 100 yards in stupid penalties like personal fouls, I'm going to go all Art-Briles-after-the-last-bowl-game on somebody.  And we don't want that.