It’s been a tough few days in Wildcatland, following a 17-16 loss to West Virginia Saturday in Morgantown, but with that loss behind them, its time for the Wildcats to refocus for Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders are coming off a 55-19 victory over Kansas Thursday night in Lubbock, where star quarterback Patrick Mahomes was lost in the third quarter after injuring his shoulder on a 39-yard run which set Texas Tech up for its fifth touchdown of the game.
Red Raider head coach Kliff Kingsbury describes Mahomes as “day-to-day,” but doesn’t expect any drop-off between Mahomes and backup Nic Shimonek in the event Shimonek is forced to start in Manhattan.
“(He’s) one of the hardest workers on our team,” Kingsbury said of Shimonek during Monday’s Big 12 Coaches Teleconference. “Practices every day, competes every day in the weight room and on the practice field. (He) studies very hard and I was excited to see him get his opportunity. I get to see him in practice every day execute at a high level. It was fun for me to see him do it out under the lights, and I thought he handled himself very well.”
The stat sheet backs up Kingsbury’s assessment. After Mahomes started the game completing 27 of 34 passes for 277 yards, four touchdowns and an interception, Shimonek entered and threw 21 times, completing 15 for 271 yards and four scores of his own.
“After watching him, (Texas Tech is) not gonna change based on his performance (against KU),” K-State head coach Bill Snyder said of Shimonek. “He played extremely well. Threw the ball around with great confidence ... was very accurate and can throw the ball with good velocity. I don’t know the two quarterbacks at all like Kliff and Texas Tech does, but it didn’t look to me like there was any drop-off.”
Some of that is due to Kingsbury’s special touch with quarterbacks, which seems to have reverberated around college football, with former Tech quarterbacks Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma and Davis Webb at California, as well as Mahomes and Shimonek.
“He just speaks their language, probably more than anything,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorson said of Kingsbury’s quarterback coaching ability. “He’s a coach’s kid and has always been a great Xs and Os guy, but there’s good Xs and Os guys that don’t speak the same language as the quarterbacks do. He’s always been that guy.”
According to Holgorson, Kingsbury’s ability comes into play exceptionally well when it comes to backup readiness.
“I’ve been pretty close with him for a long time and he’s always done a good job of getting those guys to be confident and he never panics if the next guy needs to come in,” Hologorson said. “So regardless of which one of those guys plays against Kansas State … it’s gonna be the same team out there.”
Of course, the Wildcats will likely present the new quarterback with a heftier challenge than the one he faced against the Jayhawks. After allowing 422 yards against West Virginia Saturday, K-State’s defense — which came into the game ranked No. 1 in the nation — still finds itself in the top five at No. 4.
“They’re just so good when it comes to each and every guy doing their job and their assignment and their responsibility,” Kingsbury said of the Wildcat defense. “They’re always where they should be. They fly to the football. You watch their (defensive) linemen chase the ball down 30 yards down the field. I’m just very impressed with the assignment football they play each and every snap.”