Kingsbury previews the coming season at Big 12 media day - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Kingsbury previews the coming season at Big 12 media day

DALLAS, TX (KCBD) - Kliff Kingsbury took the podium at the Omni Hotel in Dallas, headquarters of Big 12 media day, and, unlike the coaches who spoke in length before him, Kingsbury made his presence felt with a very quick and pointed opening statement.

“Let’s just get to questions.”

Alright then.

Coach Kingsbury may not be a man of many words, but there’s no problem deciphering how much confidence the second year head coach brings to the table. It’s clear Kingsbury is ready to capitalize on the momentum built from last year’s dominant Holiday Bowl performance and believes his team is much more capable of winning than what folks are expecting from the outside looking in.

“I think year two for our entire staff, our entire program, there’s a comfort level,” Kingsbury said. “I think our team learned how to handle adversity. If you continue to work, continue to stress doing things the right way, then in the end you’re going to have success and we had success in that Bowl game.”

Of course, optimism is never too far off when you have a quarterback as talented as Davis Webb running the show. The sophomore signal caller has made all the right moves since his MVP performance in the Holiday Bowl. Webb’s bulked up in the offseason, adding significant muscle to his skinnier frame, he’s morphed into a leader of the offense, and he completed spring scrimmages with a 13-0 TD/INT ratio. Unlike last year at this time when Kingsbury had the unenviable task of choosing a starter between three inexperienced QB’s, this year’s team is all aboard the Davis Webb express with expectations of reaching the next level.

“Statistically as a true freshman he had a pretty amazing year,” Kingsbury said. “Just have to cut down on the turnovers and that's something that he really did a good job of in the spring. Having a guy who is an established leader and an established player at the quarterback position in our system really helps and has helped the entire offseason. He's one of the hardest working quarterbacks I've ever been around. He's earned everything he's gotten. I'm excited to watch him take that next step and be a leader of our football team.”

“Winning Holiday Bowl MVP as a freshman was huge.” Kingsbury added. “He had a tremendous spring and I expect that to carry on in the next year.”

As much as quarterback is an exclamation mark for the team, the defense is every bit as much the team’s question mark. The inability to stop the run a season ago was a glaring weakness for the Red Raiders who lost five straight games last season while teams racked up 300 yards rushing on a consistent basis. Kingsbury hopes to have filled that void by adding JUCO defensive tackle recruits Keland McElrath, Rika Levi, and Marcus Smith, all three of which register 300+ pounds on the scale and are among the top 30 prospects at their position in the nation.

Combining more beef up front with a defensive coordinator in Matt Wallerstedt who’s in his 2nd year, Kingsbury believes the defense will be much improved.

“That's big for them, two years having the same defensive staff in place with the same terminology,” Kingsbury said. “I can tell this spring they weren't thinking as much. They were actually flying around with the football. I think we've made some additions. Some of those junior college D-linemen will really help the front. Excited to see their progress. I expect that group to be much improved from a year ago.”

At the linebacker position, all eyes have been on the development of Kenny Williams. After leading the team in rushing a year ago, much speculation has been made as to whether Williams will really see full-time defensive duties or if he’ll be a rare two-way player. Kingsbury shed some light on the senior’s role this season.

“He’s one of our best football players,” Kingsbury said. “he’ll still have a role on offense and he’ll be great on special teams as he was last year, but the majority of the time he’ll be on defense. We want to find a way to get him on the field as much as possible.”

Back on the offensive side of the ball, replacing the production of All-American tight end Jace Amaro will be a challenge for Texas Tech, but by inserting Bradley Marquez into Amaro’s old position, expanding Jakeem Grant’s role in the offense and lining Reginald Davis III out wide, the Red Raiders won’t need to replace Amaro’s production with one guy, but several guys, all of whom make the team much faster than it was a season ago.

“I don't think you ever replace a guy like that (Amaro),” Kingsbury said. “But I think it will be a faster wide receiving crew, which will help. At times (last year) I thought we had to play within a box. We've got to be able to take the top off, and I think with some of these younger guys they haven't played as much but they can really run. That's exciting for us as an offense. A guy like that 6'6" and 250 and can dominate blocking and has 100 catches, I don't think you replace him. You do the best you can as a group to try to get close to that productivity.”

All in all, Kingsbury knows the Red Raiders will be a team capable of winning every time it steps on the field. Part of the next step Texas Tech needs to take as a program in the Big 12 comes down to Kingsbury being the best coach he can possibly be.

“ I think consistency as a program and particularly for myself, each and every day making sure you're bringing the same energy, the same positive message, and you gotta provide the stability especially when things aren't going well. And year one I probably didn't do a great job of that, and hopefully we learned from that and can build.”

The Red Raiders will hold a team media day at Jones AT&T Stadium on Sunday, August 3rd, before fall camp begins August 4th. The season opener with Central Arkansas is August 30.

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