Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Tom Keegan: Time to give Ryan Willis four quarters

Kansas sophomore quarterback Ryan Willis throws passes during practice on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016.

Kansas sophomore quarterback Ryan Willis throws passes during practice on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016.


— The Masked Rider, guns up, dressed in a Lone Ranger mask, black gaucho hat, black shirt and red cape, sits atop a horse that sprints 100 yards on turf and leads the Texas Tech football team onto the field. That’s when the adrenaline starts pumping in Jones AT & T Stadium. It’s the coolest football tradition in the Big 12.

Then Patrick Mahomes II, son of the former major-league pitcher and quite the pitcher himself, takes it from there. He keeps up the pace set by the Masked Rider, throws accurate passes, short, medium and long, to platoons of receivers, and is the coolest football player in the Big 12.

At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Mahomes is bigger than the Kansas linebackers who will try to bring him down when he takes off and runs, which isn’t often.

Mahomes has thrown 14 touchdown passes and two interceptions. The Red Raiders average 11.3 yards every time he attempts a pass and he has been sacked four times in three games.

Mahomes steadily develops, his statistics improving with each year. A year ago in Lawrence, he and then freshman Kansas quarterback Ryan Willis produced nearly identical passing statistics, a game won by Texas Tech, 30-20.

Mahomes completed 30 of 51 passes for 359 yards, one interception and one touchdown, Willis 35 of 50 for 330 yards, one interception and two touchdowns. Mahomes was sacked five times, Willis twice.

If the quarterbacks played to a virtual statistical tie 49 weeks ago, it could happen again. Why then does is sound like such a fantasy? For one, Willis hasn’t been given a shot at running the team as a starter, though tonight (7:30 kickoff) would seem like the perfect time to do so. Here’s the ball. It’s yours for the entire game, no matter what happens.

Tech starts eight newcomers to the program on defense and ranks 124th among 128 FBS schools in total yards allowed per game (531.3). Look at it this way: What quarterback do you suppose the Texas Tech coaching staff doesn't want to see sprint onto the field?


Gerry Butler 6 years ago

Couldn't agree more. Time to put this Willis - - Cozart debacle to rest. Cozart IS NOT, again IS NOT or should not be the starting QB. He has been given opportunity and just isn't producing. Add him to the list of receivers or DB'S whatever but he just isn't making the grade of a College QB. It's not I have some personal issue against him but it is what it is.

The thing is I'm afraid Willis confidence might be a little shaken right now , I mean he came in last year did pretty well all things considered, having to run for his life 3/4 of the time because of no O-Line protection, to be honest I didn't really think it should have been an issue at the beginning of the season, but yet we continue to ride Cozart. I wouldn't hold my breath or shocked to see Cozart trot out as the starter again, just don't get it.

But truly believe like you say it's time to put Willis out there and let him go the length and increase Carter Stanley reps. What's gonna happen by doing this? - -We lose? - - Hell were already doing that, so just think our chances are better with Willis that's all

Chris DeWeese 6 years ago

He should have been the starter from day one. He already earned it.

John Fitzgerald 6 years ago

I think Willis definitely deserves a chance to start all 4 quarters. Hell, the team deserves for Willis to be named the starter for all 4 quarters. I'm also curious if by doing this dual QB thing, did they have to make two game plans? One for Cozart and one for Willis? If so, that could be half the issue right there. Anyways, I don't care if it's Willis, Stanley, or even Starks that starts this game tonight, I just hope it's not Cozart and they get a chance to start all 4 quarters regardless of what happens. Either way my prediction still stands 56-17 Texas Tech. Let's hope I'm wrong and we can at least compete.

Armen Kurdian 6 years ago

Defense hasn't been playing bad to be honest, not great, but offense keeps making their job all the harder. Eliminate the turnovers to keep our defense off the field, no more than they need to be.

Greg Teemer 6 years ago

Uh.......Amon Carter Stadium is TCU's stadium.......not Texas Tech. Come on, at least get your stadium correct in your article.

Jeff Coffman 6 years ago

I kind of think that there are certain matchups that help Willis and others that help a mobile quarterback. I still think the big issue is our offensive line can't protect the QB (nor the RB). It seems like Cozart has been used to move the pocket. However, against TTU, I don't think that will be our gameplan, I think a lot of passing will happen tonight. TTU's defense should point to Willis starting and if we need some backup Stanley should get some reps.

The arm strength to get those throws to the outside receivers just isn't there for Cozart.

At the onset of the season, I had hoped that Stanley would have won the starting role, just because that meant he outplayed the other two clearly. My second favorite was Willis because he has shown so much in his True Freshman season, I was disappointed with Cozart seeing the light of day because it reverted back to where we were, signs that the offensive line isn't there and bad in-game decisions.

Brett McCabe 6 years ago

Wow, that was a pretty good stat line from Willis last year. I'd take that type of performance any game this season.

I've had a pit in my stomach about this game but I am hopeful that we've used the extra days to clear-up some things on offense. It's not too late for this team to improve but it needs some stability and it needs an identity. Fingers crossed for a competitive performance.

Dale Rogers 6 years ago

Agree. It's time for Willis to start and to give Stanley an opportunity as backup. Cozart is a great leader and with his speed could be very productive elsewhere.

David Brown 6 years ago

Ku needs to quit apologizing for being on the field. Quit coming out trying not to lose. come out and kick some ones ass. Maybe they need to see the movie Hoosiers and realize that any one can accomplish anything with enough heart. Its the same game for both sides ,believe in your self., make the other team believe in you. Go out and win, put it on them. Be the team you can be.

Courtney Bell 6 years ago

Carter Stanley!! For all the 5 minutes he was on the field I will have to say he was the most accurate. Both QBs prior to Stanley passes were all over the place.

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