Football

Texas Tech Football Notebook: There’s No Identity Crisis

Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury let the media define him in years one and two, but that’s all but stopped this year.

Make sure and follow KAMC’s Brian Holland, who was in Lubbock a few years ago, spent a couple of years in Louisiana, and then returned. He produced that video and he’s done other things like that. Make sure and follow him on Twitter @BHollandSports.

Identity Crisis. Grantland’s Matt Hinton previews Texas Tech, but more than that, Hinton is asking what Kingsbury is and if he can be a good football coach. It is quite amazing to see the list of things that happened last year. From Kingsbury being shirtless at a pool party, to the ALS Bucket Challenge, to the “Too Turnt Up” stuff to hearing the word “swagger” every other time that someone talked about Kingsbury. That’s all gone this offseason.

All of it.

It’s not by coincidence or mistake. You get the feeling that one of the things that happened to Kingsbury last year is that even though he tried not to let “it” happen, he let “it” get away from him. That “it” is really undefinable for me as it was a handful of the small things mentioned above, not one big thing, and it was heading in the wrong direction. Kingsbury let the media define him and if he had one regret from year one and two, it would be just that. And there’s no guarantees here, but I would be a lot of money that Kingsbury told himself and everyone else that if he’s going to go down, he’s not going down that way.

“We’re just grinding. None of us were happy with the way things worked out. It’s kind of a decision with the way things went last year. We want a workmanlike attitude.” No one ever used words like grinding or workmanlike, or their close cousin blue-collar, to describe Texas Tech in the Leach years, which stand as arguably the most successful decade in school history. More than any other factor, it was Kingsbury’s association with that era, as the first of many record-breaking passers on Leach’s watch, that made him such a popular candidate to restore the wide-open, pass-happy, defense-optional mentality in the first place. Between Leach and Kevin Sumlin, on whose staff Kingsbury served at Houston and Texas A&M, Kingsbury has spent virtually his entire career running some iteration of the Air Raid that he helped to bring into fashion as a player. Neither the playbook nor the basic philosophy behind it is going to change anytime soon. But until the record improves and the Red Raiders regain some measure of relevance in the Big 12, if blue-collar rhetoric is what the skeptics need to hear to be assured their head man is maturing into the kind of sober, straitlaced chief who fits the standard head-coaching mold, then that’s what they’re going to get.

Impact Transfer. ESPN’s Matt Borcas considers eight impact transfers and making the list is defender (he’s not a linebacker, he’s not a defensive end) Mike Mitchell:

Consequently, Mitchell is extraordinarily well-rested heading into this season, having not played a down of football since high school. His presence alone should drastically improve the Red Raiders’ defense, which has nowhere to go but up. (Mitchell’s brother Mickey is an incoming freshman on Ohio State’s basketball team, and was apparently unfazed by Mike’s Rothian departure from Columbus.)

Leaving UT. I’m not going to throw out a link her,e but UT linebacker Cecil Cherry and running back Duke Catalon are both transferring. This was part of Charlie Strong’s Florida five, an attempt to go get guys out of state (Florida) and now there’s only one of those players left. This isn’t to poke fun at UT, but it is something that Texas Tech has dealt with, which is getting kids to commit from out of state can be very tough and having them stick around all four years is even more difficult.

I had one additional thought, which is that it makes it even more impressive that Nigel Bethel stayed. Without getting into the right or wrong of what he did, but it would have been real easy for Bethel to leave and go home. There were so many people against him when the initial report came out and I honestly expected him to go back to Miami. Again, I think the situation was handled very well by just about everyone, and it was unfortunate, but it also speaks to the coaches and Bethel and the support staff at Texas Tech.

Cantrell is Ready. RedRaiderSports’ Will McKay writes that the competition in camp is preparing Dylan Cantrell and the rest of the receivers for the season:

“I think we’ve started off really well, especially compared to the last few seasons. I know it’s hot out here, and people come out sluggish at first a lot of times, but I really think we’ve attacked every practice. Speaking from the receiver group, we’ve come out, and this is the hardest we’ve been working since I’ve been here. Every one of us is coming out, attacking every day, trying to get better, just competing every day, and we haven’t had guys tapping out. We’re fighting through bumps and bruises and the heat. We’ve come out, and we’re looking strong right now.”

Bearded. LAJ’s Don Williams writes about the defensive line and how the defensive line grew beards during the summer, something that defensive line coach Mike Smith thought of:

“Initially, he just told us he wanted us to find something for the group to do together, to create unity,” senior defensive end Branden Jackson said. “Then he called me and called a couple of seniors and said, ‘What do you think about growing beards? We’re the big guys. We do the dirty work. Why not look the part?’”

As a quick aside, this move for Mitchell must have taken place much earlier than a few weeks ago, unless Mitchell has super-human powers to grow a full beard in a short period of time.

Happy State Bank Donates $1 Million. Via LAJ’s Denise Marquez, Happy State Bank has given $1 million to the Texas Tech Athletics Department and the donation will be used for the Sports Performance Center. Way to step it up.

Miscellaneous. ESPN’s Jake Trotter (beware autoplay video) writes about how the Big 12 has a Big 12 problem and he writes about how to fix it . . . Land Grant Gauntlet plays out week three in the Big 12 . . . LAJ’s Don Williams has the top outside linebackers in Texas Tech history with Marcus Coleman first, Dwayne Jiles second and then Mike Mock third.

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