Texas Tech head football coach Kliff Kingsbury spoke at the Big 12 Media Days today and we’ll touch on some things that Kingsbury had to say during his Q&A session (PDF). Let’s get to the quotes!
Kingsbury was asked about the receivers and who he think will step up this year and he singled out three of them, T.J. Vasher, De’Quan Bowman and Ja’Deion High. Failing to make the list was Antoine Wesley and Donta Thompson, both players played heavily in the spring rotation:
We lost quite a few playmakers that have been really good players for us at wide out, but have some young guys waiting in the wings, you have to start with T.J. Vasher, made some plays last year, has a high upside. De’Quan Bowman has played sparingly, waited his turn to get on the field and played well this spring. And Jacob Hines [I think the transcript meant to state, Ja’Deion High] has a 6-year back a productive player at all positions and I expect him to step up and have a nice campaign this fall as well.
Kingsbury was also asked about the job that David Gibbs has done, with three players on the Big 12 preseason team and Kingsbury really does give Gibbs the credit for the job he’s done:
Obviously, it’s preseason so you take everything with a grain of salt. But excited for Coach Gibbs and that defensive staff and those defensive players. When Coach Gibbs took the job four years ago he kind of had to redo it all. He had a vision, knew what he wanted to do but had to go through two tough years. To his credit, he stuck to his guns, with his philosophy and his recruiting and now we’re making strides on that side of the football. So have to credit him a ton with sticking it out and just having continuity on that side of the ball to develop a culture and identity that those defensive players and staff are taking a lot of pride in now.
And no hints at quarterback were given, Kingsbury has played his thoughts close to the vest all spring and he didn’t stray from that today, being asked if the competition is open and if there is a quarterback in the lead:
It is. We have three guys, all very talented, they’re inexperienced players, McLane Carter, Jett Duffey and Alan Bowman. Each athletic, can extend plays, can do what we want them to do. We just gotta figure out who is going to extend themselves and be the guy. This is the first fall camp I don’t know who it’s going to be so working with the quarterbacks it’s exciting, it’s a challenge and we’re fired up to see who steps up during the competition and separates themselves.
I really don’t. I’ve tried to be very open minded on that. Matt, McLane has been there two years and got more reps than the other two. So I wanted to make sure that Jett and Alan were able to get on an equal playing field before I started evaluating any sort of competition. So I wanted to get them through spring, see how they worked in the summer, continue to watch them throughout the summer and really, hey, we’re in fall camp, we’re all on the same level now, let’s see who can take this thing and run with it. I’ve tried not to pick a guy in my mind, I’m going to keep it wide open and see who separates during fall camp.
Kingsbury also clarified that he’s not into making quarterback moves during the year, would like to just focus on one guy once they make a decision.
Kingsbury was also asked about the depth of the team and how he feels that this group is light years ahead of where they started (I really do feel the same way.
I hope so, and depth-wise we’re light years ahead of where we’ve been. That’s developed a competitive nature on that side of the ball that’s made us better and is it starts with the defensive line having eight to ten bodies that we feel can play in the Big 12 and as many drives and plays as you’re going to get you need to have that and we have three linebackers we think can play with anybody and a lot of experienced guys in the secondary. I think we will be able to compete at a higher level than we have and continue to trend in the top of the league on that side of the football.
And you can expect this next bit to be the calling card of the preseason workouts, which is that this team has to figure out how to finish these games and that they’ve put a bit of emphasis on making sure that they finish each game:
We felt like we were competitive last year, more so than we’ve been. Had a chance in almost every game late in the fourth quarter and didn’t get it done. We have to kick better. We have to be better on special teams and we preached finish in everything we do. Every drill we do, every session we have, it’s about finish and finishing strong and I’m not sure there is a particular way to practice that, to simulate a game. But we have tried to preach finish this entire off-season.