For the second consecutive year Texas Tech head football coach Kliff Kingsbury entered Big 12 media day on the proverbial hot seat.
Staying true to form, the coach who has his own stylist and looks more like Ryan Gosling instead of your typical college football coach, handled the pressure like a champ while dropping a mini bomb on the media. For the first time in Kingsbury’s six-year tenure, Texas Tech will be leaning on their defense more than their normally explosive offense to win games in 2018.
If you don’t follow Texas Tech or the Big 12 and are wondering why the sudden change in mindset, all you have to do is step back and look at the facts. Tech boasts a conference-high three defenders (linebacker Dakota Allen and defensive backs Jah’Shawn Johnson and Justus Parker) on the preseason All-Big 12 team, and it will be returning one of the league’s most experienced units.
“A little bit of a change their to have three guys on defense recognized on the preseason list, but I’m excited for those three and coach [David] Gibbs has done a tremendous job building up that unit,” Kingsbury said during his exclusive interview with GetMoreSports.com. “We expect to take a big step on that side of the ball with nine or 10 starters back.”
After having NFL quarterbacks like Heisman trophy winner Baker Mayfield, Davis Webb and Pat Mahomes on the roster in recent seasons, Kingsbury doesn’t have an experienced signal caller or even a quarterback with a lot of buzz behind them going into 2018. The quarterback battle between McLane Carter and Jett Duffey appears fierce, but Kingsbury said the hope is to not put too much pressure on their shoulders, and here’s where college football bettors should take notice.
“No real experience at (the quarterback) position so hopefully we’ll be able to lean on the running game a little bit more. We have all five offensive linemen coming back — Da’Leon Ward is back, Tre King is back — so we may look a little bit different, but hopefully still effective.”
Regarding the quarterback competition, Carter is a junior with the most experience, playing in four games as a sophomore in 2017. Duffey is sophomore that hasn’t seen any playing action.
“They are unknown until one of them is able to get the job done and as of right now I don’t really have a leader yet,” Kingsbury said. “I think Jett is a tremendous runner, great athleticism and great thrower…it’s just that he doesn’t have a ton of reps. McLane is a bigger body who can extend plays and has the moxie and swag that comes with a guy who was undefeated in high school. Both guys are talented players, we just got to see who in the end separates from the group.”
Whoever wins the job will face the difficult challenge of leading a Texas Tech program that has not had a winning season in the Big 12 over the past five years. Combine that with fact Tech is coming off back-to-back losing seasons, and that Vegas has the Red Raiders with a 5.5 win total, and it’s easy to see why Kingsbury’s coaching seat is hot.
Despite having all these factors in play, the best-dressed coach is ready to take on the challenge of proving everyone, including the oddsmakers, wrong instead of stressing out.
“A heavy emphasis of ours is to “finish” this year because we knew we could have won more games than we did last season and we just didn’t get it done,” Kingsbury said. “This year, we are focused on finishing and being competitive, but finding a way to get wins in the end. It’s going to be a fun year and I’m excited about all the depth we have in our program and we are going to compete our tails off and prove people wrong.”
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