Texas Tech held their weekly press conference with head coach Kliff Kingsbury, safety Jah’Shawn Johnson, and kicker Clayton Hatfield. Before we get to the quotes, we learn that T.J. Vasher was injured late in the game, Kingsbury didn’t disclose what the injury was, but said he was limited. Also, running backs Da’Leon Ward and Tre King are game-time decisions this week. Let’s get to it.
One of the more interesting things for me has been the introduction of offensive coordinator Kevin Johns and running backs coach Clay McGuire:
Q. It was actually 21 out of 29, which is still remarkable. Speaking with the new coaching staff that Don brought up, Coach Johns, Coach McGuire, how does that work in concept and what have they brought to the offense?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: They’ve done a great job. Both have been different places and had a lot of success at those other places, so they’ve kind of mixed their thoughts with what we were doing here already, and you can see in some of the run game, we’re being more effective in certain areas, and that’s a credit to those guys and what they’re seeing on game day and during the week and during their film study. I think everybody is working well together on game day. I like the information we’re getting, and we just have to, as a group, continue to get better.
Q. Without obviously giving too much away, how does that work, the communication with Coach Johns and you and the whole staff on game day?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I mean, we’ve got Coach McGuire up in the box, Coach Johns up in the box, and they’re watching from up there and talking through things in between plays, in between series, and then giving me information about what we like, what we don’t like between series. So that’s kind of how it goes.
I think one of the reasons why Kingsbury really likes Johns is how organized he is, which is exactly like Kingsbury in a lot of respects. I can’t say that I know much about McGuire, but I keep writing that it’s probably a really good thing that McGuire is also an offensive line coach and Kingsbury essentially has two with him and Brandon Jones, but McGuire is up in the booth.
And Kingsbury discusses how they adjusted in the second half:
Q. Going back and watching that game on DVR the other fight, the announcers were real complimentary of just your game plan and play calling and noticed that you used a lot of kind of misdirection and motion. Was that to kind of nullify their aggressiveness since they had all those sacks and tackles for losses?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I mean, we try to be creative every week and attack areas we see that we can take advantage of. But yeah, they were a hard-charging defense. They chased the ball hard, and so we felt like we could do some things that may have them overrun stuff.
Kingsbury was also asked about how well Alan Bowman has done:
Q. Is Bowman better right now than you expected he would be at this point?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: It’s hard to say. We’ll see how this thing goes, but his level of maturity thus far as a true freshman, I mean, I don’t know if I’ve seen one handle it like this so far, but we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got the heart of our schedule, we’ve got a great team coming in here, but he’s handled things very maturely from practice-wise to his preparation to on Saturdays. That’s what I’ve been impressed with.
There’s things we can do better. We had some bad throws, bad reads last week, but just the mindset, the preparation and the focus each day for a young guy, it’s been impressive.
And Kingsbury also talked about how hard he can be on the quarterbacks:
Q. I obviously couldn’t read lips, but it looked like you were letting him have it after the first interception, and he seemed pretty calm. Was he pretty calm after —
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, he’s got a lot from me since he got here in the spring, and we’re hard on those freshman at that position. Just how we coach them here, and he handles it well. He doesn’t blink, and he doesn’t hesitate. The next throw he’s going to come back and cut it loose, and that’s what you want. That’s the one quality that you can’t teach in people is if you make a mistake, can you go back out there and cut it loose, and he does that.
Q. After that interception, obviously the cornerback made a heck of a play, but what was it that Alan did not do right? What were you communicating to him?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, just going through your reads. It probably wasn’t a very good play call. Ran the same play back-to-back, and they rolled coverage, they changed coverage, and he hung on his first read instead of getting to his second read, so I was just talking about seeing the safeties and playing at a better level and a higher level, and that he’s too good to make that type of mistake.
Kingsbury was asked about what Ja’Deion High has meant to the team:
Q. Can you just speak to what Ja’Deion has been able to do, especially on 3rd down for you? Is it a matter of — I know it’s not what he’d like in terms of the longness of his career, but it seems like he’s seen a lot of football, played a lot of football, and it’s more like a feel thing for him now?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, there’s a comfort level there with the quarterback. He knows Ja’Deion is going to be where he’s supposed to be and executing it right and doing it at a high level, so there’s been some big 3rd downs, some 3rd and longs that I think he’s kind of locked on him and Ja’Deion has made a play for him. That’s just trusting your receiver. You’ve got a sixth-year guy who does everything right, always has, and he’s earned everything has got, and he’s going to be where he should be, and he’s going to make the play for you.
Kingsbury also talks about Will Grier and David Sills:
Q. In a conference with so many talented quarterbacks, what makes Will Grier so special?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I think his maturity. He’s obviously very talented, great arm, very poised, great pocket presence. He’ll be one of the top guys taken this year and should be, and then he’s got a family, he’s married. He’s a mature — kind of like an NFL player already. I was hoping he would have left last year, but he stuck around and is playing through the roof. But you can tell he’s mastered that system, knows it inside and out, has a great mentor there in Jake Spavital. So he’s one of the best in the country, no question, and playing at a really high level.
Q. Having players like Will Grier and Simms and guys like that, whenever you look at trying to slow them down, is one of the main emphases trying to not give up big plays and those big shots down the field? What’s the main emphasis to keep the game low scoring on their end?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I think that’s an area we have to improve. We’ve given up some big plays this year, and they’re a high-powered, quick-strike offense, so you know that’s coming. You know they’re going to take their shots to Sills and Simms and Jennings and everybody else they’ve got. We’re definitely aware of that. We’d like to limit those big plays and make them earn whatever they’re going to get.
Q. David Sills, you know you’ve mentioned him briefly. What makes him so explosive on the — when watching film on him?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: You know, he reminds me of Mike Evans with his size and physicality. You watch him punishing defenders down the field; that’s what Mike did when we coached him at A&M. Never takes a play off, explodes off the ball every rep, and that’s to me what separates him. He’s a big physical presence. Having his quarterback background, I think it really helps him in his route running and those guys be on the same page, but he does not take a play off; whether it’s the run game, the pass game, that guy is going full speed every single rep, and that was a quality that Mike had, and that’s why he’s one of the top guys in the NFL right now.
There are two more small things. The first is a question about the dust-ups between Texas Tech and West Virginia the past two years before the game starts and Kingsbury said that he wouldn’t let that happen again and Kingsbury said that he wouldn’t attend the Kansas City vs. Denver game to see Patrick Mahomes and Case Keenum as Texas Tech has a bye week, but he hoped to watch the game.