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My take on the state of the Texas Tech football program; How did we get here? And where do we go fro

Discussion in 'Football: NFL, College, High School' started by JMAD21, Dec 8, 2014.

  1. JMAD21

    JMAD21 Member

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    My take on the state of the Texas Tech football program; How did we get here? And where do we go from here?

    "That escalated quickly, I mean that really got out of hand"

    Ron Burgundy pretty much sums up the 2014 season for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. A promising bowl win over a good Arizona State team put expectations at a level they had no business being at. In 2013, Kliff Kingsbury led his team to 7-0 record and a top 10 ranking. Even the die hard fans like myself never bought in to the ranking. But still, there was reason to think that team could win 9 or 10 games. Unfortunately though, they followed that 7 game win streak with a 5 game losing streak. Dropping out of the Big12 title race and back into reality. Texas Tech was pretty good, but far from great! An 8-5 record was more than acceptable for Kliff in his 1st season, and gave hope to Tech fans. Surely they wouldn't get worse! No longer starting 2 true freshman a QB, some stability on the coaching staff, and playmakers all over the field. The 2014 season was set up to be a fun one... But it wasn't! It was miserable, confusing, and down right embarrassing. So where do you go from here? Why did the Red Raiders struggle through a 4-8 season? How does Kliff right the ship? Can he right the ship? And where should expectations be for next season and beyond?



    Defensive Issues:

    The issue needing to be addressed more than any other, and I'm sick of talking about, is defense! I constantly ask myself why Tech can never manage to have even a decent defense. Well the answer is, and has been for 15 years, this programs unwillingness to actually care about playing defense. Sure, they want a good defense, but they do nothing to address the actual issue. I was a huge Mike Leach fan, but he seemingly needed to be reminded numerous times that defense even exists. Ruffin McNeal did what he could, and good on him for managing to coach up that team in 08 to play good enough to not lose games... Well except for that one game in Norman. Moving on after Leach there was reason to believe Tubberville, a defensive minded coach, could change the culture. Oh boy was that wrong! 3 seasons of missed assignments, missed alignments, and missed tackles. Not to mention 3 different DC's, all 3 running different systems. 4-3 under James Willis, 4-2-5 under Chad Glasgow, and 3-4 under Art Kaufman. It baffles me that a head coach can put his players through that kind of uncertainty and expect anything positive. Moving on past Tuberville (kind of, you'll see) the Prodigal Son returns home! Sure Kliff is an offensive coach in the same mold of his old coach, Mike Leach. But bringing Matt Wallerstedt seemed like a step in the right direction. His system was very similar to Art Kaufman's, he actually had some experienced players in all three areas of the defense, and he constantly preached stability. Finally we were gonna have a the same DC for multiple seasons, or so it seemed (sigh). In his 1st season, the defense wasn't all bad. They started decent and ended great, the middle was pretty awful though. In his second season, everything went wrong. As I teased earlier, Tubberville was still haunting this team. Tubby stacked his defense with JuCo transfers and played them almost exclusively. Which left Kingsbury and Wallerstedt with a group of guys that had been apart of the program for a number of years, yet had little experience. Guys like Zach Winbush, LaDarius Newbold, Austin Stewart, and others. All talented players. But juniors and seniors that are/were playing like freshman. Ask anyone, a defense cannot succeed with 7 legit starters and 4 backups that have to start. Tubberville proved in his tenure that he refused to develop guys for the future, almost as if he knew he wouldn't be in Lubbock very long. Leaving the 2014 Red Raiders with little experience, and lots of question marks. There was some bright spots as well, but we'll get to that later, we're still being negative. Speaking of negatives, there were about a million of them when the Razorbacks came to town and ran for well over 400 yards. I watched the game from my seats not far above the student section. Even those crazy, tortilla throwing, STD covered, boys and girls couldn't hide their shame. Which got even worse the next week when Matt Wallerstedt apparently showed up drunk and was forced to(?) resign. The one thing we had going for us was stability, and now even that was gone. Mike Smith did as good a job as he could have, getting the kids to play hard and occasionally pretty well. But there's really nothing more he could've done. His future on the staff is still in question, I personally think it would be a mistake to not have him on the staff. But we'll see...

    Discipline issues:

    This one will be shorter because there's not much to it. For the past 6 or so years Tech has been an immature, undisciplined team. I put that on the players more so than I do the coaches. Simply put, it's extremely difficult succeed when you turn the ball over and commit penalties at the rate Texas Tech has recently.

    Who wants to be a Quarterback?

    Remember when Michael Brewer was set to be the next in line of great Texas Tech QBs? The Lake Travis native was a perfect for a Kliff Kingsbury system. I was at the spring game, watching both he and Davis Webb look like they could easily lead a typical Red Raider AirRaid offense. Then injuries killed that dream! Still, Davis Webb was a talented 4-star prospect with an endorsement from QB guru Trent Delfer. Yet even he couldn't hold onto the position. Hot-headed walk-on Baker Mayfield opened the season as the starter. Showing flashes of being a capable starter, but never fully proved he could read a defense. So after a season of going back and forth between two true freshman at QB, Webb won the job and locked it up during the Holiday Bowl victory over Arizona State, setting multiple game records in the process. Causing Michael Brewer, who never did get healthy, and Baker Mayfield both to transfer. Brewer to Virginia Tech, and Mayfield to Oklahoma (see ya buddy)! I personally didn't sweat that too much. Webb had won the job anyway, and his potential seemed to have no ceiling. It was a little unsettling to have only one other QB on scholarship, Patrick Mahomes, another true freshman from Whitehouse Tx. Talented but more of a baseball player. As long as Webb could continue to improve and stay healthy, we'd be fine. Unfortunately, neither of those things happened. Webb regressed badly, while also dealing with a dislocated shoulder and a significant ankle sprain. Mahomes came in and struggled at 1st. But after settling in, he ended the season with 4 starts, all probably more impressive than any of Webb's starts in the 2014 season. Going in to spring practice, Kliff Kingsbury says it will once again be a wide open competition. However, Webb and Mahomes won't be alone. In the mix comes highly touted prospect from Stephinville Tx, Jarrett Stidham. Rated as high as 5 stars by some recruiting websites, Stidham is the most highly recruited QB to ever commit to Tech. ESPN.com compares the duel threat QB's throwing ability to Derrick Carr and his running ability to Marcus Mariota. That's no joke, this kid is special. He recently had a two game stretch where he combined for 975 yards and 17 total touchdowns. Yes, I said TWO games. He is an early graduate and will be in Lubbock in time for spring ball.

    So there's the issues that I believe led to this miserable 4-8 season. Now how does Kliff Kingsbury fix these issues? Is he even up to the task?

    First, how can this program become respectable on the defensive side of the ball? It starts with figuring out if Mike Smith is the guy for the job at defensive coordinator. If he's not, it's time for athletic director Kirby Hocutt to pony up and pay a highly respected defensive coach. No more position coaches getting their 1st DC gig. I also think Mike Smith needs to be retained. Whether he is in charge or goes back to his Co-DC/LB coach position. his recruiting is phenomenal and the players love him. Speaking of recruiting...

    Continue the momentum on the recruiting trail:

    Despite Kliff Kingsbury's 12-13 record in his 1st two years, he's getting the attention of major prospects all over the country. Getting verbal commitments from a number of highly rated, heavily recruited kids. According to ESPN.com's recruiting page, Tech currently has 5 ESPN-top-300 prospects committed and a number of others considering them. Previously mentioned Jarrett Stidham (#3 Duel threat QB), Breiden Fehoko (#8 DL), Carlos Strickland (#17 WR), Madison Akamnonu (#27 OT), and Corey Dauphine (#25 RB). After that elite group, they have commits from 8 other solid prospects. That's already a great class, with potential to get much better. The 2nd ranked WR in the country, Tyron Johnson, recently listed Texas Tech in his top 5 and most believe Tech to be the favorites to land this stud from New Orleans. Chris Warren III (#8 RB) also just announced his top 5, considering both Texas Tech and Texas. If Kingsbury and his staff can continue this success on the recruiting trail, the on field production will soon follow.

    Finally, let's get positive! In a unquestionably bad season, there was still some positives to take into 2015. I've already mentioned the biggest one, recruiting. So what else?

    Despite being ranked in the triple digits once again on defense, there was some individual success by some guys that will be back next season. Pete Robertson led the big 12 in sacks, really taking off once Mike Smith took over. He is a lock for some all-Big12 honers. Brandon Jackson had a solid season, ranking 2nd on the team in sacks, a handful of TFL, and making some big plays such as scoring a TD against the Longhorns. Keenan Ward looked special at times, showing potential to be a big time playmaker at safety. And finally, the group of freshman CBs led by Nigel Bethel, showed some real stones late in the season. Those guys really showed up against Baylor, when Tech almost pulled the upset. I expect the defensive secondary to be a strength of this team soon. There's also some new comers that are expected to make an immediate impact. Breiden Fehoko will arrive in time for spring practice. The freshman to be is college-ready, I expect him to at least be in the 2-deep. Drastically improving depth on the Dline. Mike Mitchell is the guy that I'm most excited about though. The LineBacker transferred from Ohio State to Tech before the season. After redshirting his only season in Columbus, he'll be eligible as a RS-Sophomore next season. Another highly touted recruit, he was a 4/5-star prospect, won the sparq competition (basically a HS combine event that judges a players athleticism), and coaches say he is the fastest player on defense (runs a solid 4.3). So as far as personnel goes, Tech will be better defensively. Schematically, I doubt they'll be much different as I expect Mike Smith to have the interim label lifted and stay on as DC. All those things point to an improved defense.

    As for the offensive side of the ball, the success will inevitably come down to the play at QB. Between Webb, Mahomes, and Stidham, I'm confident that Kingsbury can make the right choice. If I had to make a prediction, I think the choice will come down to Webb and Stidham. It really could go either way though. I genuinely believe all three kids have a legit shot at winning the job. Regardless of who is taking snaps though, he should feel safe behind an offensive line that played really well this season and will have 4 of 5 starters back. And maybe the brightest of spots this season was in the backfield as DeAndre Washington had a phenomenal season. He became the first Red Raider running back to rush for over a thousand yards since (the other) Ricky Williams in 1998. He'll be back and better than ever ready to lead the offense in his senior season.



    So to wrap it up, what should the expectations be for the Red Raiders in 2015? A tough schedule won't make anything easy on them, but I would be shocked if we don't see some major improvements on both sides of the ball. Now what does that mean record wise? Honestly, I think making a bowl game would make for a successful season. It's way to early to get into what their record could, would, or should be. But I think getting into a bowl is a safe bet for 2015. If we don't, then it's time to start reevaluate wether or not Kliff is the guy for the job. As of now, I believe he is. It won't happen over night, but I'm confident he can get this team and this program where it needs to be. Competing for a Big12 championships regularly!
     
  2. JMAD21

    JMAD21 Member

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    Sorry for the length guys. But I'm thinking about starting a sports blog so this is kind of a trail thing for me. Please don't nit pick grammar issues and what not. If you take the time to read it, just comment on the content. Would like to keep the talk about Texas Tech football, not about my writing skills. Thanks guys!
     

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