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March 6, 2013

Preview: Brewer's time to shine

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The benefits of Kliff Kingsbury's hiring at Texas Tech, up to this point, have been a re-energized fanbase and positive momentum in recruiting.

The brand new head coach's first 75 days have been dominated by off-the-field activities -- filling out his staff, making public appearances and recruiting. That will end soon, as the Red Raiders are set to begin spring practice in less three weeks. And one of Kingsbury's primary focuses at that point will be molding Michael Brewer from a backup to one of the nation's most prolific passers.

Michael Brewer emerged as the de facto heir apparent to Seth Doege less than six months after first arriving on campus. Now, as a third-year sophomore, the stage is set for Brewer to take over as Texas Tech's starting quarterback. He will have to prove himself in practice to a new set of coaches but there is little doubt that Brewer will be the Red Raiders' QB1 in 2013.
The Basics
Returning Starters: None

Others Returning: Michael Brewer, Brant Costilla, Clayton Nicholas, Dustin Walton

Departures: Seth Doege (Graduation)
Notable 2012 Statistics
Seth Doege was third in the FBS and second in the Big 12 in completion percentage (70.2). His career completion mark (68.9) is second only to Graham Harrell (69.8) in Texas Tech program history.

Michael Brewer played in nine games as a redshirt freshman, completing 34-of-48 passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns.

Walk-on Brant Costilla is the only other current quarterback that attempted a pass in 2012; he was 1-of-1 against Texas State for 14 yards. Receiver Bradley Marquez also completed his only pass attempt of 2012 -- a one-yard pass to Doege.
Brewer was a highly sought after quarterback from Lake Travis High School in Austin. The Cavalier program produced Kansas signal caller Todd Reesing and one-time Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert before Brewer; Tech's presumed starter was actually one of Gilbert's best receivers in high school before inheriting the reins and leading Lake Travis to its third and fourth state championships.

Brewer was actually ranked higher than Heisman Trophy winner and former Kingsbury student Johnny Manziel coming out of high school and Brewer's Lake Travis squad bounced Manziel's Kerrville Tivy team out of the state playoffs in both players' senior year. Brewer was ranked by Rivals.com as the 13th best dual-threat quarterback in the nation and Manziel was ranked 14th.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. That is a interesting note at this point, nothing more.

What we do know is Brewer was a more-than-capable backup last season to Seth Doege. The then-freshman came in and scored the Red Raiders' first offensive touchdown in the Meineke Car Care Bowl after Doege was forced to the sideline for one play for losing his helmet on a play.

What does the sophomore bring to the Red Raiders? Aside from having solid touch, he's mobile. He rushed for over 1,300 yards in his two seasons as a starter in high school. He also quietly put up 375 passing yards and three touchdowns while going 34-for-48 in mop up duty in 2012.

There's not much left to be desired in Brewer's game after watching him develop and grow during his redshirt and freshman seasons. The deep throw isn't an issue, he has solid touch, good pocket presence and can tuck and run when needed.

The biggest question to answer is how much control will Kingsbury give his sophomore quarterback?

Kingsbury himself began his career as a starter as a sophomore so there's probably a good deal of understanding between the two. On paper, this looks like a player-coach match made in Heaven.

Brewer certainly has been impressive in the low-stress backup role, but don't expect him to be flawless. As Kingsbury and Graham Harrell could tell you, there's a big difference between an experienced and a limited experience quarterback.

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NEW FACES: Davis Webb. By enrolling early and going through spring practice, Webb is following in the footsteps of Doege and Brewer. With no clear-cut, established candidate for the No. 2 spot, the freshman from Prosper has a great chance to work his way into a role with the team. It won't be easy, but the three returning players that Webb will be competing with have thrown a grand total of one collegiate pass in their collective careers.

PRESSURE IS ON: Brewer is no stranger to expectations. His father and grandfather were both quarterbacks at Texas. He replaced five-star, blue-chip All-Everything Garrett Gilbert at Lake Travis HS and led the Cavaliers to two state championships. It could be argued that Brewer has faced high expectations his entire life, so this spring will simply be about meeting or exceeding the latest set. The pressure isn't on Brewer to win the job. That seems almost assured at this point. The pressure is on Brewer -- like most starting quarterbacks -- to win, and the spring will go a long way in determining whether that happens.

BIGGEST QUESTION: Who will back up Brewer? Senior Brant Costilla has the most experience and is the only other quarterback on the roster besides Brewer to have attempted a collegiate pass. New Mexico transfer Dustin Walton is entering his third full year with a college football program -- he was an early-enrollee with the Lobos -- and is eligible to play this season after sitting out 2012. Clayton Nicholas has only been on campus for nine months but, from a ranking standpoint, he was just as heralded coming out of high school as Brewer. Webb could make some noise in this race; the fact that the team won't begin spring practice until late March should benefit him.

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