Kliff Kingsbury had every intention of skipping the opening statement and going straight to the Q&A segment of Big 12 Media Day. However, those plans were quickly scrapped due to the music that was playing over the loudspeakers at The Star in Frisco.
“Actually, I have one opening statement,” stated the Texas Tech head coach. “I’m not sure why we had the Justin Bieber playing for my walk-up song, but we’ll move forward.”
All kidding aside, it’s all about moving forward this season in Lubbock. The Red Raiders high-powered offense will be reloading, mainly at quarterback. Patrick Mahomes is now in Kansas City after being drafted in the first round by the Chiefs. Those are some big shoes to fill for Nic Shimonek and the other quarterbacks on the roster.
“You don’t replace somebody with that type of talent, obviously, but Nic is a fifth-year senior and going into his fourth year in our system, knows it inside and out,” said Kingsbury. “We have to have more of a group effort. We were not very good up front last year as far as running the football and protecting the quarterback. I think all of us at times just sat there and watched some of the things that Pat could do, and we need to be focused on playing.”
While the offense has always put points on the board under Kingsbury, the defense has allowed just as many. In fact, many have argued that there hasn’t been a defense at Texas Tech in a long time, if ever. Naturally, Kingsbury was asked why the defense has been so bad.
“I think it’s a number of things,” replied Kingsbury. “As a head coach, it falls on me, no question. I think going into year three, we have the same defensive coordinator for the first time at Texas Tech in a long time. So I expect to see us be improved.”
Does the talk about the defense, or lack of, outside of the program serve as motivation?
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“We don’t really pay attention to it much,” said defensive back and former Ennis standout Jah’Shawn Johnson. “We know we had a disappointing season and we know we have to get better. We’ve been working towards it every day and we are excited to show it.”
Texas Tech is picked to finish eighth in the conference with key road games at Oklahoma and Texas. They’ll also face Baylor at AT&T Stadium in mid-November. However, they do have TCU and Oklahoma State at home, along with Arizona State at Lubbock in the second game of the season in a match-up of high-scoring offenses and struggling defenses.
A slow start and Kingsbury will be hearing the “hot seat” rumors once again and also understands his job may be on the line. Nobody wants to win at Texas Tech more than the head coach and the inability of stepping up to the next level has been among the frustrations over the last couple of seasons.
“Just not being able to get over that hump for your players, for our student body, for our alumni, you just want it for them because we have incredible support, we have incredible fans,” said Kingsbury. “We’ve have had really good teams, and we’ve just kind of hovered, and we’ve got to get over it somehow.”
The mission to get over that hump begins on September 2 in Lubbock against Eastern Washington.