Frisco, TX - All eyes were on Kliff Kingsbury at Big 12 Media Days at The Star in Frisco. After a 5-7 season, the Red Raiders coaching staff knows this team must show improvement in 2017. Kliff was bombarded with questions about the Texas Tech pigskin program Monday morning. Here are some of the comments from the Red Raiders Head Coach who expects this team to be better.
"I expect us to be improved. I like what I saw this spring. We played a lot of young players on defense last year. I'm hoping those snaps pay dividends this year. We know what's at stake. We know we have to be much improved. You're coaching for your job every year. I don't feel any more pressure than I ever have. I always expect to win and give Texas Tech what it deserves and their fans and their alumni. We are moving forward and trying to improve all our processes."
Why can't you get 10-20 defensive players from Texas who can hold your opponents to 30 points or less a game?
"That's a great question. I wish I had the answer. That's something we work on. We haven't been good enough defensively and we will continue to try and recruit the right players and develop them and get better."
Kliff, it's the start of your fifth year now. I wonder if you could describe some of the changes that you've seen in your coaching over the course of your tenure there, and how are you different than you might have been when you started off?
"That's a great question. I think you just adjust each and every year to your personnel, to your coaching staff. Time management is something that I feel like I've gotten better at. And then trying to be more involved in all aspects of the program. Not just saying, hey, we're going to outscore everybody. We're going to have a great quarterback We're going to score a bunch of points. But having an impact on special teams, strength and conditioning, defense, recruiting. I think as you go, you learn that you better be involved in all those things."
A lot's been said about the much-maligned defense at Texas Tech. How big for you is getting a guy like Dakota Allen back?
"He's been huge. Dakota is a guy who made a mistake after his freshman year and went to junior college and paid the price and did everything right, earned his way back and was a tremendous player for us his freshman year. We expect him to pick right back up where he left off. He's a leader for us already in our locker room. He can tell those young guys about the mistake he made, about what he went through, about how good they have it. He's made an immediate impact off the field, and I'm hoping that his presence on the field is felt that way as well."
Obviously, Pat Mahomes, large shoes to fill. What have you seen from Nic and the other quarterbacks this spring and summer?
"You don't replace somebody with that type of talent, obviously, but Nic is a fifth year senior going into his fourth year in our system, knows it inside and out. Really got a ton of reps with our one's last year. There was a four or five-week stretch that Pat didn't practice during the week, where he hurt his shoulder, and Nic got all those reps. He got some good meaningful time in the games last year and played really well, and this spring, he had a tremendous spring. With this supporting cast around him, we expect him to play at a high level. He's a tough young man, hardest worker on our team, studies the game inside and out. Was at Iowa, learned a pro style at Iowa; came to Tech, learned our offense. He's a bright kid, and like I said, I expect him to play at a very high level. I expect him to be very competitive. Our team loves him because not many players in this day and age would stick around to their senior year to get their time, and he did. That carries a lot of weight with our program."
Coach, the uncertainty following last season can kind of open up the doors for some negative recruiting, things like that. What would you tell a kid that has an offer from Texas Tech but is kind of uncertain about the coaching situation?
"That's a great question. Obviously, that can be used. Players want to know you're going to be there. We kind of explain the college football landscape, that coaches come and go. Come to a university because you love what it's about and you can see yourself there whether the head coach is there or not. That's why we said it. We have no plans of going anywhere and not being there and we're working towards that, but, yeah, select a university that you love because coaches come and go."
I'm curious, the Big 12 collectively has the youngest age for head coaches, I think at 46 years. Big picture question: What do you think this youth movement with coaches can do to reboot the league?
"That's a great question. I think you lose somebody like Coach Stoops, it's hard to replace, but there are some really bright offensive minds that have joined us, and Coach Campbell, Coach Herman, obviously, and Lincoln. I think it's going to be fun to watch as everybody grows as a head coach and in this league continues to get better. I think that youth movement is going to be exciting, and I think you're going to see exciting styles of football continue to flourish in the Big 12."
Texas Tech opens the 2017 football season hosting Eastern Washington 3 p.m. September 2nd.