If you’ve been following me on Twitter or in the comments section these past few days, you know I can’t hide my frustration with this program now. Nothing seems to improve, from performance, to mentality, to anyone taking responsibility (that “apology” was garbage). Without being in the room during the press conference, I can’t tell you why it seems to go this way (and it’s probably because everyone else is more level-headed that I am about this), but the media was lobbing softballs to Kingsbury this week. There were many opportunities to ask tough questions, to really push Kinsgbury to open up and talk about what’s really going on and they ducked it. It’s like they’re too scared to ask the tough questions. For heaven’s sake, the very first question asked in the press conference is if he’s expecting OU to run the ball… Let’s just completely ignore the elephant in the room regarding how this team crapped its pants, showed no emotion, no drive, no discipline, and got absolutely man handled at home. But no. Let’s just lob a softball and ask Kingsbury is he thinks Lincoln Riley is going to have Joe Mixon run the ball against Tech… And when someone does ask a question that could be considered tough, or at least approaching a tough subject, the reporter freaking feeds Kingsbury the answer. Like this:
Coach, I know a lot of people want to get this thing fixed as fast as possible, and that’s not always possible to do. What do you guys do as a coaching staff? Do you just try to get things set as best as you can?
When asking questions, tough or not, you don’t feed your source the answer you’re looking for, and you certainly don’t let them escape a tough question by just giving them an answer. With this question, you say, “What are you doing as a staff to get address the problems (of penalties, coming out flat at home, etc.)” and then you just sit there and wait for them to answer. Kingsbury actually covers quite a few different areas to address in his answer, but you wouldn’t believe that there wasn’t a follow-up to anything he said. Whoever was in the room just let it all fall, and someone moved to the next question they had scribbled down to ask him.
Yeah, there is a lot to fix. There is no doubt. Just midway point, reassess what we’re doing, how we’re doing it as far as practice goes. Personnel-wise, who we’re playing, I think we took a look at really everything on Sunday, and trying to figure out what we need to tighten up and who needs to be playing and what changes we need to make in this last part of the season to be the most effective.
I don’t know about you guys, but I see at least three follow-up questions simply based off of his response; changes in practice, changes in who’s starting/playing, evaluation from Sunday. We do get a question about practice a little later in the press conference, but it’s asked in a way to a person who is already known for not being forthcoming with information that could have led to a one word answer.
When you assess how you practice, are there some changes that you’d make?
No, you ask “what changes are you making?” And this is what you get when you ask trash questions
We’re going to do some different things in practice. The next part of the season there a lot of similar offenses to what we run in the Big 12, and we’ll do some more good-on-good-type situations to try to give the best looks possible for each other.
Hallelujah, someone asked a question I was actually interested in hearing the answer to (and didn’t feed him an answer!)!
Q. What are you doing to hold the players accountable for the after play penalties, the personal fouls, those kind of things?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, that’s a great question. We have a punishment in place. Murphy got ejected, which he won’t start this next half, and then Payton, we should have taken Peyton out of the game, but he was in for Kisean, so we really didn’t have another safety. But, yeah, they’ll come out of the ballgame and won’t play much if that occurs moving forward. Then they’ll have punishment during that week as well.
And yet Kingsbury still found a way to answer the question without answering the question. He says there is punishment, but doesn’t say what that is (Giles talks about running, up downs, board pushes and the like as punishments used). And he does say he doesn’t get emotional on the field for show. You could probably throw in there blowing up at a ref over a blown call, which is for show because you’re not going to change the call, but he won’t do it.
Another intriguing topic, being mentally soft and not being able to score more points in the second half than the opponent when trailing, and surprise, surprise, Kingsbury doesn’t provide an answer.
Q. You showed plenty of resolve as a player. But right now at halftime, you guys are trailing. You’re just 1-19. Just from a coach’s perspective, what do you feel like is preventing the comebacks from happening?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: That’s a great question. I’m not sure. We’ve got to be mentally tougher. There is no doubt about it. When you get down and can’t respond, that’s not what you want to be labeled as a player or a team, and that’s kind of where we’re at. I think when we get rolling and we’re hot, we’re pretty good. Right now when we get behind, we don’t handle that that well.
Then there was a bit of talk about the Baker Mayfield situation being overblown and that everyone is happy with their current situation, especially with Mayfield playing well now.
Kingsbury was asked about Mahomes’ shoulder
I think his lack of practicing caught up to him. I think that first week he was still kind of in that streak, in that zone. And this last week not practicing as much as we would have liked probably caught up to him. Then he tried to do a little bit too much, I felt like, in the second half.
Well, no duh. Every player needs to practice to perform well. If someone is limited in practice, they will be limited in what they do during the game.
Q. Is Pat looking down field too much on the plays instead of taking an easy three-yard or five-yard scramble?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: I’m not sure. I think that he just really was trying a bit too hard, trying to do too much at times. Last week we get behind big and probably pushed the envelope a little bit too much. But prior to last week’s game, had been playing at a very high level, and I think not practicing, having some discomfort in that shoulder probably effected him. I know it effected him, but hopefully we can get that resolved this week.
Didn’t Kingsbury say they evaluated everything on Sunday? Wouldn’t quarterback play be pretty high on the list of things to look at when the offense puts up 10 points at home when they had been averaging 60? How do you not know how your QB is doing when you’re the position coach. That’s literally the one position on the field that he personally coaches and he doesn’t know what the QB was doing after watching him play on the field and then evaluating his play on film the next day? Are we seeing Kingsbury stick up for Mahomes, bury his head in the sand and not want to admit that Mahomes probably shouldn’t be playing now, all things considered?
Stice was asked quite a few questions about team morale, which Stice said needs to improve, and also if there’s a leader in the locker room. Stice says that the team needs to work on being responsible to each other and that there isn’t one person in particular that has stepped up as a vocal leader. He also talks about a player’s only meeting that happened where team unity was discussed, the culture instilled by Coach Whitt, and playing for “my brother”. The most interesting thing about this player’s only meeting happened a week ago Sunday, the day after the Kansas State game. So whatever was supposed to come from that was lost before the West Virginia game.
Q. What do you think between now and Saturday afternoon, early evening to not come out flat? Where everything went well right up until you ran out of the tunnel, what changes so that that doesn’t happen?
LUKE STICE: There’s got to be increased accountability with everybody in that locker room. There’s no two ways around that. Everybody has to say, look, we’re in this together. We’ve got to play for each other, and know that everything’s out in front of us. We can continue to improve and get to where we need to be. We just needed to increase in every aspect of the game and continue to improve on all phases.
Q. But what specifically changes? There’s got to be some dynamic of changes where somebody says something, does something or does something different?
LUKE STICE: We need to demand more of each other. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s unacceptable, like I mentioned starting this deal off, it’s unacceptable, the performance we had Saturday. Whatever needs to happen, we need to accelerate that process and demand more of the man next to you, and know that everybody needs to do their job to put ourselves in position to be successful in this coming week.
Q. Did you see anything during practice last week that would have led you to believe that you’d come out flat, maybe complacency from the team?
LUKE STICE: You know, that complacency is a tough word to hear because that’s something you can control. That’s just due to just poor execution. Mentally and physically, as I mentioned, we’ve got to continue to raise the standard of what’s accepted, however good or bad that you feel a teammate or yourself performed to get ready for that game, everything’s got to increase.
Every day leading up to this next game, there needs to be a sense of urgency and increased accountability across the boards to make sure we’re ready to get after them Saturday.
These issues are still lingering and really have been the Texas Tech M.O. since Leach was fired.
Q. (Indiscernible) after the Saturday’s loss to West Virginia, what is your message to the fan base?
LUKE STICE: First thing I did was apologize for our performance. It’s unacceptable. No two ways around that. This is an unbelievable university, and it’s a privilege to be a student-athlete here. It really is. All I can promise is we’re going back to work with everything we can in this next opportunity to protect the Jones and get back on track and play at the level we know we’re capable of playing for each other.
It’s an unbelievable opportunity here to be able to compete each day with these guys in the locker room and to play for these coaches. Moving forward, we have to do everything we can to play for each other and compete at a higher level.
Giles was asked a lot about morale like Stice, and he just repeats that it was disappointing, especially for home-coming and the lack of motivation, or discipline, ro whatever it is you want to point to was mostly things the players could control and just didn’t.
Q. Who do you feel that falls back on the most, just the undisciplined play and penalties?
JONATHAN GILES: Just us, the players. The coaches preach that to us every day being disciplined. We have it on the wall, be disciplined. So for us to come out and not be disciplined, it hurts.
Giles was asked about punishment and says it’s more on the players to hold each other accountable than for Kingsbury to jump all over someone. Either way, I think we as the fanbase are looking for something to change because whatever is happening isn’t working.
Q. Would you like to see people be a little more vocal on the sideline when things don’t go well? Maybe a little more emotion, whether it’s from the coaches or your fellow players?
JONATHAN GILES: I think so. It also, just bringing more energy to the sideline. I feel like that’s one thing we didn’t do a good job of. Like when things didn’t go our way, everybody was looking down and looking inside instead of keeping the energy up.
Q. Who do you all usually look to for that type of leadership in those moments of adversity?
JONATHAN GILES: Usually it comes from quarterbacks or even our defensive captain, Luke Stice or Justis Nelson, that’s where it usually comes from. Also, like I said, holding each other accountable, holding yourself accountable.
Giles is also asked quite a bit about what he thinks the team needs and he repeats that the leader’s (I’m thinking he’s referring to the players here) need to be more vocal.
Q. At this point, do you feel like you need more of those guys to be vocal leaders?
JONATHAN GILES: I feel like we do. Just because at the point in time where we’re at right now, I feel like I said, I’m holding myself accountable and everybody’s holding each other accountable, it really helps the team a lot.
Q. So just to be clear, you would like to see more sideline motion, whether it’s from your coaches or your teammates and you feel like that might be something that needs to change so you don’t lose your focus and you don’t lose your energy, and maybe helps change the dynamic of things?
JONATHAN GILES: Right, yes, sir.