Kingsbury impact already being felt in Lubbock
DALLAS – Kliff Kingsbury hasn't even coached a game at Texas Tech yet but the buzz in Lubbock is already palpable.
That's what happens when you hold 39 passing record at the school and come back to your alma mater as one of the hottest coaches in the business after a year as the Texas A&M offensive coordinator.
How much the hiring of Kingsbury, 33, impacts the bottom line on the field for the Red Raiders remains to be seen. But there's no denying he's already had a huge impact on a program that's going on its third head coach since 2009.
"It's amazing," senior defensive lineman Kerry Hyder said Monday during Big 12 media days. "I've never seen it like this. I've been through a couple of coaches and he's breathed new life into the university. He's been successful at whatever he's done. He was successful at Tech and then when he was an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach he was successful. People see that track record and with him being a Texas Tech grad and believe he's going to keep it going."
The people in Lubbock are believers. Season-ticket sales are expected to exceed last year despite the fact the Red Raiders are picked seventh by the media in the Big 12 preseason poll.
More important than the fan base having Kingsbury fever, the players have bought into their new coach and environment change he's brought to Tech.
"It's even little things," said senior wide receiver Eric Ward. "Before practice we a turn-up period where everybody gets ready for practice and gets the adrenalin pumping and listen to music and bond with each other. That means a lot to us because we never had that before. Just bonding with your teammates you feel like you can go out there and lay it on the line for that guy because you know we have that connection as a team."
The players also have a connection to Kingsbury because of his Tech background. Everything they've gone through in Lubbock he went through a decade ago. And while they want to win now, so does Kingsbury because after all, he's a Red Raider too.
"I think, after getting out there, we really started with our team motto, is get better each and every day," Kingsbury said. "The heights coach (Mike) Leach took that program, that's hard to repeat. That's something that had never been done out there. But we're excited about our group. I think last year they were 8-5 and definitely have lots of room for improvement. It's not like we're coming to a program that's broken. We're just coming in trying to put our spin on it."
That spin will include an offense that will run at a faster pace than the one normally seen in Lubbock. Kingsbury's offensive scheme will be similar to the one the Johnny Manziel-led Aggies run in College Station. The biggest concern for the offense is settling on a quarterback, with sophomore Michael Brewer and freshman Davis Webb the candidates.
Whoever calls the shots under center will not impact the pace.
"The tempo is unbelievable," Ward said. "It's going to break team's wills to play. If you're a receiver in this offense, that's all you want. You know you're going to get opportunities to make plays. That's what this offense is known for."
Kingsbury's offense will also impact the Tech defense, which should be the best conditioned unit in the Big 12 after practicing against the offense.
"For opposing defenses it's hard to prepare for it," Hyder said. "You're not at it every day and when you see it, you're going to be tired and worn out. By the time we start facing teams in games, this is going to seem like slow motion to us."