Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury On His Team’s Improvements

    Red Raiders' head coach Kliff Kingsbury speaks to Campus Insiders' Bonnie Bernstein at the 2015 Big 12 Media Days about his quarterback competition, committing less turnovers, and stopping the run.

    July 21, 2015

    Oklahoma is going back to more of an Air Raid style of offense. TCU switched everything around last season and the results almost turned into a playoff appearance. Baylor has turned into a powerhouse under Art Briles with its dangerous attack, and Texas A&M left the Big 12 and became an instant player in the SEC with its stronger, more dangerous offensive style. 

    Right in the center of the storm of big offensive numbers has been Kingsbury, playing at Texas Tech, seeing a little time in the pro ranks, and then hooking up with Kevin Sumlin both at Houston and Texas A&M as the hot coaching prospect with the big-time rep. 

    But you occasionally need to play a little defense, too. 

    The 2014 Texas Tech offense did exactly what the Texas Tech offense was supposed to do, cranking out over 500 yards per game and coming up with some big performances, but Texas Tech was out-Texas Teched by TCU to the tune of 82 points, and by Baylor late in the year. Even so, had the defense been just a wee bit better than the third-worst in college football in terms of allowing points, the season might have been different. 

    Texas Tech allowed 42 points or more six times in the last ten games and yet was right there in losses to Oklahoma State, West Virginia, and Baylor. And that means in Year Three under Kingsbury, he and his staff have to show that there’s more than just a pretty offense. 

    Because almost everyone can crank up the offensive numbers now in the Big 12, Texas Tech has to do the same and come up with a few defensive stops and stop committing so many penalties and start to win the turnover margin. And it has to show it can do all the little things right. 

    With 50 returning lettermen and with ten starters back on offense, the firepower will be there again. Seven starters are back on a defense that can’t be any worse, and there might be a little bit of depth, too. 

    For a program that won eight games or more 11 times in the last 13 seasons, the 4-8 2014 season wasn’t just lousy, it was the worst campaign since 1990. In the new, better, One True Champion Big 12, Texas Tech has to prove this year it can keep up the pace. 

    What You Need To Know About The Offense: Expect more of the same, even more of it. The offense that averaged over 500 yards per game and finished fifth in the nation in passing should be even better once the quarterback situation is settled between Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes. The receiving corps needs more weapons around Jakeem Grant, but there are several nice options. Le’Raven Clark and the line will be strong, but it’s not deep and will be in big trouble if a rash of injuries strike. The passing game is the star, but DeAndre Washington and Justin Stockton will be among the Big 12’s most dynamic rushing tandems. 

    What You Need To Know About The Defense: One of the nation’s worst defenses is trying to start over with new defensive coordinator David Gibbs. After finishing 122nd in the nation in total D and 123rd in scoring defense, there’s nowhere to go but up. The pass rushing tandem of Pete Robertson and Branden Jackson should be outstanding, but the entire front four has to be better against the run, especially on the inside. The linebacking corps is the defense’s big question mark with three new starters, but Micah Awe is a good one on the inside. The rough secondary will be helped with more from the defensive front, but J.J. Gaines is a good safety to build around and Justis Nelson is one of the Big 12’s bigger corners. 

    The schedule: The Red Raiders need to have fun with Sam Houston State and UTEP to start the season because it gets really rough really fast. Everything needs to be tuned up over the first two weeks because … 
    – At Arkansas, TCU, Baylor in Arlington. Kliff Kingsbury’s club will know where it stands early on. Split those two huge games against the Big 12 favorites, and all of a sudden the narrative of the Texas Tech season changes. 
    – The mid-season run of three road games in four weeks will be a fight going to Kansas, Oklahoma and West Virginia. If the offense clicks, the Red Raiders will be the team no one wants to play.
    – It’s a long season before finally getting a week off before the final game of the regular season. Getting time to prepare for the Thanksgiving game against Texas in Austin will help. 
    – WATCH OUT FOR … the road trip to Kansas. The Jayhawks don’t have many winnable opportunities, and they’ll see Texas Tech as a possible shot. The Red Raiders go to Oklahoma the week after going to Lawrence – the focus has to be there. 

    Key game: Sept. 26 vs. TCU. Even if Texas Tech isn’t good enough to win this game, it’s a measuring stick compared to last year’s 82-27 loss that actually could’ve been far worse – and yes, it was possible if TCU really and truly tried. The Horned Frogs came up with 785 yards of total offense in the blowout, and now Texas Tech gets to kick off its Big 12 season by exorcising the demons. And here’s the problem – Baylor up next. 

    2014 Fun Stats: 
    – Red Zone Scores: Opponents 52-of-57 (91%) – Texas Tech 29-of-38 (76%) 
    – Penalties: Texas Tech 112 for 1,070 yards – Opponents 69 for 645 
    – Time of Possession: Opponents 33:55 – Texas Tech 26:05 


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