A while back, I mentioned to MikeTTU that I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at recruiting overall, not a player-by-player look, but at the general philosophy of the coaching staff and what they are looking for in terms of types of players. We're talking about the offense this week and talking about the defense next week. Please join us for our email conversation.
Seth C: We're a good way into the second full season for this coaching staff to recruit and put together a class of players. One of the reasons why I wanted to think about some of this is whether or not we could think about if there was a type of player that Kingsbury or Wallerstedt liked to recruit over other types of players. The last recruiting class taught me that I think at times, there is a type of player that they want to recruit. So, let's start with the offensive line. When Neal Brown and Tuberville were recruiting, it seemed that they were more set on having more athletic offensive linemen? Any traits that you see that the coaching staff looks for in offensive linemen?
MikeTTU: If you look at the offensive linemen Tech has recruited over the past year and a half, there is an obvious trend going on. Every offensive linemen commit since Kliff Kingsbury took over has been at least 6'4" 275 lbs. A majority of these commits are coming in around 6'5" 300 lbs, which is already the average size of the offensive linemen on Texas Tech's roster already. Kingsbury looks to be rebuilding the NFL size O-line like Tech had back when Leach of head coach of the Red Raiders. While having athletic linemen can have it's perks, having bigger, stronger linemen helps more with a passing attack and can help closes gaps on the offensive line and give our quarterback plenty of time in the pocket.
Seth C: The thing that I've noticed is that there's a definite mean streak with a lot of the offensive linemen and the strength, even of the lone high school guy, Trace Ellison, is pretty interesting in that he is just a guy that's manhandling opponents and the same goes for Lio Lafaele. The one that doesn't make a lot of sense to me is Justin Murphy, at least in terms of a particular type. He's a guy that's as technically sound as I have seen at that level and his footwork is just spectacular. He's the one guy that seems more finesse in his film, but he's also really young for his age and I think the strength part of it will happen.
Let's move to receiver. What's your initial impression in terms of "type" of receiver for the coaching staff especially in light of Jonathan Giles?
MikeTTU: When I first heard that Jonathan Giles committed, my first reaction was "Who the heck is Jonathan Giles?". After looking at his highlights, I wasn't surprised that Texas Tech offer Giles, as he is exactly the type of receiver Kingsbury has been after. If you look back to last recruiting class with Baston, Daniels and Sadler, you can see that Tech is looking at 6'0" receivers that are shifty, athletic and simply know how to make plays. These receivers are likely to play at the Y and H positions in Kingsbury dynamic offense with their ability to separate and use their feet to gain extra yards on the ground. They also will be able to use their speed after they catch the ball to get to the outside and run down the sideline. In comparison, these receivers are going to be similar to Wes Welker and Eric Morris when they wore the Red and Black. Some other receivers that could fit that mold in the class of 2015 are Ryan Newsome, Kirk Merritt and James Proche.
However, it looks like there is another type of receiver the coaching staff is going after, as evident with the signees Cantrell and Dillard, along with recruits like Jaelan Austin and Tyron Johnson. What you do think about Texas Tech going after these bigger receivers?
Seth C: I'm having a hard time figuring out how Kingsbury is going to utilize guys like Cantrell and Dillard, not because I don't think he can do it, but because I just haven't seen it with tweener types like Cantrell and Dillard. And I suppose that may not be all that accurate, we have seen what Kingsbury can do with a bigger receiver, TAMU's Mike Evans. Kingsbury knows how to get a guy like that in space and maybe that's why Kingsbury has waffled a bit on Cantrell, going from outside, to inside, to outside, to probably "to be determined". Personally, I think the dilemma is that he doesn't or can't take away spots from those speedy receivers on the outside and in a sense, I somewhat get the idea that Kingsbury wants to do the opposite of what Neal Brown did. Brown had bigger, but slower, receivers on the outside. Guys like Darrin Moore and Eric Ward and Marcus Kennard and Alex Torres. Big, sturdy receivers that can post up cornerbacks, but aren't going to beat you deep. I still think that what Kingsbury wants to do is the exact opposite. Is use some of the bigger guys to post up inside, much like what they did with Jace Amaro, and then use the guys that you described, that are 6'0" on the outside. The exception to the rule is a guy like Jakeem Grant, who really just works well inside because of his speed. There will always be exceptions and Kingsbury tends to recognize that the offense isn't a one-size-fits all proposition.
What about running backs? We're somewhat seeing two different types with the 2014 class and the 2015 class. Is this a situation where he's simply "trusting in Jinks"?
MikeTTU: Yes and No. I believe Kingsbury has a plan at RBs, but at the same time he trusts Jinks to pick who he wants at that position, seeing he's going to be coaching them at Texas Tech. It's hard to get a feel at what Texas Tech wants at running back, as the Red Raiders have picked up smaller backs in Felton, to speedy backs in Stockton and powerful backs in Dauphine. The best way to describe the running back situation is simply that they want a variety at the position. However, all of the running backs mentioned do possess excellent speed, along with some of the other running backs Texas Tech is going at in the 2015 and 2016 class. While it seems Kingsbury does want variety, he wishes for all his running backs to be quick in his high powered offense. That way, when the defense starts to wear down from dealing with our high powered passing attack, the speed of running backs work even more effectively. They'll be able to stretch the field, catch balls out of the backfield and be effective during option plays. So to fully answer your question, Yes, Kingsbury trust Jinks to make the right decision on picking running backs, but I think he wants a speed element to go with it.
Which brings us to the Quarterbacks that bring this whole Kingsbury offense together. The NFL sized linemen, the shifty and big receivers and speedy backs all help complement the big arm, gunslinging dual threat quarterbacks. Why do you think Kingsbury wants these types of Quarterbacks and why did he single out Patrick Mahomes and Jarrett Stidham for the QBs for the 2014 and 2015 class.
Seth C: I think Kingsbury wants the best of both worlds and his philosophy is get the absolute best quarterback he can. He is absolutely swinging for the fences with the quarterback spot and there's no doubt that he's identifying his quarterbacks very early and essentially telling them that they are his guy. And Kingsbury really doesn't want to settle for just "a guy". He wants the best guy. The absolute best guy he can get.
This is why the situation with Manziel and folks getting tired about Kingsbury being asked about Manziel. Stidham talks about Manziel, or at least he did when he was at the Elite 11 event in Dallas. He compares himself Manziel. That's perfect. That sets up incredibly well for Texas Tech and once Kingsbury works his magic with Davis Webb, then other quarterbacks will be able to say that Kingsbury can work with any type of quarterback. From Case Keenum, to Johnny Manziel, to Davis Webb. There isn't a quarterback that he can't give a shot in the NFL.
You know, we've talked a lot, I think it will maybe a little bit different where he's at right now with Davis Webb I think it may be a little bit more towards me running the ball a little bit more like he did with Johnny (Stidham starts to say "Football" which is hilarious) Manziel at A&M, so I think it may be the same, but I think he may tweak it a little bit here and there just to get me out of the pocket so I'm really looking foward to it.
And despite the fact that a quick reaction and an equally quick decision is what makes it in terms of the college spread quarterbacks, it's the big arm that gets you drafted.
I've given my two cents about the quarterback, I'd love to know what you think Kingsbury is looking for in a signal caller.
MikeTTU: I love what Kingsbury is doing with the Quarterback situation right now. I just started watching Texas Tech two seasons ago after deciding to go there for school, but I didn't like Tuberville and was glad to see him leave. When I heard they were pursuing a guy named Kingsbury, I didn't know him as a former Tech quarterback under Leach, but a QB guru who taught the FBS passing leader in Case Keenum and the first Freshman Heisman Trophy winner in Johnny Manziel. So that being said, I was excited about what he could do with the offense and the QBs coming in. Right now, I'm more than impressed at Kingsbury's job recruiting QBs. He's getting Quarterbacks that not only have unreal passing abilities, but also can stretch the field and provide another element that the opposition has to look out for. First you have Mahomes, who was just dubbed possibly the nation's best prep athlete. The raw potential of Mahomes is through the roof with his pitcher's arm, quick speed and ability to buy time in the pocket. Then you have Stidham, who has incredible accuracy and is one of the top rated (if not the) players to ever commit to Texas Tech. Whether it's Mahomes or Stidham or some unnamed 3rd guy that replaces Webb, Texas Tech will be great shape and will undoubtedly in my mind the best offense in the league.
In fact, when you look at all the pieces together, there is one offense that I think Kingsbury is trying to match; Texas A&M's. And it fits perfectly. Look at what Texas A&M last season. They had a dual threat QB who not only throws downfield but makes plays with his feet, NFL sized linemen to protect the QB, big receivers that can get open, faster receivers to get open and a speedy running back in the backfield (although not as speedy as Stockton or Dauphine). The offense proved to do well in the defense heavy SEC, and only could imagine what an offense would do in the Big XII. It'll be exciting to see what all these recruits will be able to do in a couple years.
Seth C: I think you're right about the offense and it's about building pieces and building block to making a dominant offense.
Next week, MikeTTU and Seth C discuss the defense.