This is one of those annual things that comes out, and it was published a week and a half ago, but I never got around to posting it on here because I thought it deserved its own post rather than be included in a Morning Stake (And I’ve been really swamped at work, the thing that pays the bills).
AthlonSports has opposing Big 12 coaches to discuss their Big 12 counterparts anonymously. I know that some of you doubt these sources overall, but it can be a fun exercise to read through the coaches comments and then go from there. In any event, let’s go.
The first comment is about the quarterback position and it may give us some insight as to where Kingsbury may be headed with the current quarterback situation:
“It’s the quarterback. It’s always all about the quarterback there. There might be someone waiting in the wings and set to play, but don’t ever think Kliff (Kingsbury) won’t play the guy he thinks gives him the best chance. He’s not just playing a guy because he’s next in line and knows the offense. He’ll teach enough of the offense to a young guy and get him ready to play if the upside is greater.”
I think this is partly true, but I think there’s tremendous pressure to win now and I don’t know if if pulls that trigger to play the upside of freshman to look forward. I think he’s got to play the quarterback with the best chance to win now.
“He does some strange personnel things at that position, and most of the time, it pays off. People thought he was crazy to run off Baker (Mayfield), and in hindsight, maybe he was. But he wound up with an NFL talent (Pat Mahomes) who did some really nice things there. Bottom line: I’d trust Kliff at that position. Now, the other side of the ball is a different story.”
I don’t know that there’s much insight here. We’ve played this record quite a bit.
Up next is this idea that the defense is going to be improved and this particular coach (I think it’s just one coach who is speaking, not multiple coaches) doesn’t believe that Texas Tech has a commitment to the defense:
“I just think you have to be committed to playing strong, fundamental defense. And I don’t think Texas Tech is committed to doing that — in the way they recruit, in the way they coach on game day on both sides of the ball. You can’t keep taking unnecessary chances and put your defense in bad position. If your unit is getting bombarded by constantly protecting short fields, eventually, they’re going to break.”
I’m probably in the minority here, but I tend to think that with consistency comes a commitment. It’s the only way for the defense to really make an improvement, well, that an a huge talent infusion, is to have consistency with recruiting, coaching and how the staff handles the players. That’s a huge deal and so I think there has been improvement.
And I’m struggling to figure out what the coach means in terms of recruiting. I really do feel like that for the past four years, they’ve recruited to David Gibbs’ scheme and I personally feel better about the two-deep and three-deep than I have in a really long time. Had we lost someone like Octavious Morgan 5 years ago, that would be absolutely devastating, and I’m certainly not arguing that his injury will have zero impact, but there are quality defensive backs waiting in the wings and I don’t think we’ve really had that before.
I’d also say that this thought that Kingsbury is always putting the defense in a bad spot is only true if he thinks the offense is kick-ass. In 2016 and in 2015, Texas Tech the last or second to last team to punt the ball, he was always going for it. But in 2017, with a less reliable offense, Texas Tech was middle of the road, 6th in the conference. Kingsbury isn’t a dummy and I’d guess that this trend will continue in 2018.
“I keep hearing how the defense will be a strength this year. Read somewhere that the defense will have to pick up the slack for the offense early on. You’ve got to be kidding me. Two things: Nothing is picking up Texas Tech other than the offense, and that defense isn’t nearly at the level of carrying a team early in the season.”
I think the idea that the defense will be improved is true and this isn’t irrational fans thinking this, this is someone like SB Nation’s Bill Connelly, where his numbers (remind you, not his opinion, but the numbers) suggest a top 40 S&P+ defense. He’s skeptical, like the rest of us, that it can be that good, but I think the defense will be improved and will carry the offense in spots . . . especially if the defense gets turnovers. That part will be huge.
“I absolutely think it’s fair to question where the program is headed. Look, we all know the business we’re in, and simply winning more than you lose doesn’t cut it anymore. Anywhere. So does 6–6 cut it this time around?”
This last part sounds like what this coach tells recruits when he’s recruiting against Texas Tech, but that doesn’t make the statement any less true. I don’t know that 6-6 cuts it personally, but I have friends that think that 6-6 will be enough. Go take a read at the rest of the conference and don’t get too hung up on the criticisms.