Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury spoke with the media for Texas Tech’s Big 12 Media Day and rather than ask that you read a transcript, I’ve picked out the best quotes from yesterday’s media session (PDF).
1. Literally, the biggest question of the day is something that we’re really not going to know until such time that we figure out what’s going on about 6 games into the season. We really don’t know what defensive coordinator David Gibbs is going to bring to the table.
Q. Another question on Coach Gibbs. Have you changed the formation any? Or is a lot of it just the players’ attitude? Or is it position changes? What have you seen over there?
COACH KINGSBURY: A little bit of everything. I think schematically he’ll do some different things, the way he handles players. We’ve had some shuffling of which coaches are coaching which positions. So pretty much an entire overhaul. So far through spring, I thought they responded well. The players responded well. So like I said, I think continue to watch that growth through fall camp and into the season will be fun for me.
2. Kingsbury doesn’t mention it here, but he mentions this in other interviews which is that Kingsbury calls Gibbs very professional. I do believe that he is, but I also wonder if this is also saying something about former defensive coordinator, Matt Wallerstedt. That’s probably a stretch, but it is a selling point and it does appear to be how Kingsbury operates. I imagine Kingsbury as being a bit machine-like when he works, which is that this is business and the coaches need to treat it as such when working with these players.
Q. Obviously, a few defensive coordinator changes in the past six seasons. How have you — what have you been able to tell defensive recruits about the consistent changing of coordinators, and how do you sell them on coming to Texas Tech with that?
COACH KINGSBURY: I think some of it’s blind faith, obviously. With Coach Gibbs, he brings his NFL resume. He brings what he did at the University of Houston, which was phenomenal in two years there. So guys want to be around that. They want to play for a coach who has those types of credentials. So that’s been huge. He’s done a great job of recruiting since he’s been at Texas Tech and really excited about that class he’s bringing in. So I think more than anything, his resume speaks for itself when you’re selling recruits.
3. If you haven’t heard, the turnovers have been terrible.
I hope so. I think, when you look at our turnover margin last year, it was very close to the bottom in the entire country. If you’re doing that, you’re not going to win many games, especially in the Big 12 with these offenses. So that’s what we’ve harped upon. We saw great progress in the spring, but we have to go out there during games and do it.
4. I think this goes a bit to the idea of getting the running game more involved, but Kingsbury acknowledges that Texas Tech mus improve in the redzone.
COACH KINGSBURY: Yeah, we’ve got to get to the red zone more, I think. First off, we’ve always been able to get yards since I’ve been at Texas Tech. I think we’ve been a top ten the first two years as far as yards per game. But the turnovers have killed us, and not being efficient down there in the red zone has hurt us as well. So that’s definitely been an area we’ve been trying to improve upon.
5. Just in case you were living under a rock, the idea of what an air-raid quarterback is certainly changing and that includes how Kingsbury is adjusting who he is recruiting at that spot.
Q. Kliff, quarterbacks in the air raid come in all shapes and sizes, but over the years you’ve played in this system and coached this system, is there a characteristic or two you feel like is consistent with those guys?
COACH KINGSBURY: I think recently it’s the ability to extend the play. I know at Houston, coaching Case Keenum, he was great at extending a play when it wasn’t there. Obviously, Johnny at A&M. You look at what Trevone Boykin does at TCU in a very similar system, moving around making plays. People have had success. Graham Harrell was a pocket guy, Brandon Weeden. I think the trend now is going to more guys that can extend the play. But if you’re a smart guy and you can get it on time, get through your reads quickly, you have a chance to have success in that system.
6. Without a doubt, the receiving corps have to do their best to step up their game and be players. I go back that early interview with wide receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini, where he wants these guys to have to acknowledge and accept that the pressure is on them.
Q. In an offense like yours, you obviously need a good quarterback. You’re going to need some offensive linemen to make things happen in the trenches. But let’s talk about the wide receivers. Where are your wide receivers stacking up, and what are your expectations for them?
COACH KINGSBURY: I feel like for most of the year last year, it was a group that was feeling our way around, weren’t very confident in their abilities or that they can compete in that league. I think the last three games you saw some guys that the light bulb finally turned on, and that was exciting to see.
So moving forward, we had a great spring at that position. We have some young guys coming in that we think will push those older guys. But Dylan Cantrell, Devin Lauderdale, Jakeem Grant, Reggie Davis, Ian Sadler, all those guys late in the year made a bunch of plays for us, where at the beginning of last year seemed to be timid and played timid. If we can continue that progress, I think it will bode well for obviously what we’re trying to do offensively.
7. The criminally underrated running back that is DeAndre Washington.
Q. I know it’s been historically a quarterback-receiver offense. DeAndre Washington had a good year. What are you going to be able to do to let him take a step forward as a leader on your offense?
COACH KINGSBURY: We’ll continue to find ways to get him the ball. We have four offensive linemen coming back from that group that helped him gain a thousand. In a down year, he was definitely a bright spot on and off the field. Did a great job leading, never gave up. Had some dire situations where he continued to run the ball tough when we were out of games. Couldn’t be more impressed with him, his development on and off the field. I expect another great year from DeAndre.
8. Arkansas will be a challenge.
Q. Kliff, you go to Fayetteville in September. How big is that game from a confidence standpoint? You guys got beat in Lubbock by the Razorbacks last year. What could a victory in Fayetteville do for your program and for this particular team?
COACH KINGSBURY: It would be a huge boost. That’s a great football team. We found that out last year. I don’t think our team mentally was ready for the type of physical team that came in there and got after us. So hopefully this year, with a lot of those guys coming back, we’ll know what to expect of that team of how physical they are and the quality of team they are. So that’s going to be a great atmosphere. It will be a great game for us. I know our players are looking forward to it.
9. If one quarterback struggles, Kingsbury is going to ride it out.
Q. Kliff, considering the fact that Patrick Mahomes and Davis Webb both have had success in their careers, if one of them struggles for, say, two, three series, would you be more inclined to go to your backup this year than you might normally do otherwise?
COACH KINGSBURY: That’s a great question. I think it will just have to — it will be a feel situation because both — if we name a starter, we’re going to ride with that guy knowing that we have a great insurance policy behind him, but I wouldn’t expect a quick hook on whoever we name the starter.
10. Mike Mitchell might be pretty good.
Q. Mike Mitchell is coming from Ohio State and transferring to your program. What have you seen in him? Has the layoff caused any changes in him? What potentially could he mean for your defense?
COACH KINGSBURY: He’s one of the most physically impressive young men I’ve ever seen as far as speed and size and strength. I think the year out, he’s just got to get back to playing the game, playing that many plays and that many reps. He definitely brings a different side of physicality. Once he gets our system down and gets back in game shape, I think we’ll get something out of him.