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Red Raider Gridiron: Texas Tech Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury Learns from 2014; New Players at Bandit

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Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury is learning lessons from a rough 2014. Safeties coach Trey Haverty says that there will be new players at the Bandit linebacker position in 2015.

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Kingsbury Learns From 2014. ESPN's Travis Haney has a really fantastic piece about how head coach Kliff Kingsbury is learning from the lessons and issues of 2014.  I'll tell you to read the whole thing and it should be reassuring that we, as Texas Tech fans, continue to read these sorts of articles about how Kingsbury is not his public persona.  There's a story about how after the TCU game, Kingsbury individually met with players that he believed quit on the team during the 50 point drubbing and the players weren't even aware that they thought they quit.  Kingsbury continues to preach that he and the team cannot let the failures of 2014 define who you are or who you will be:

Organizationally and philosophically, Kingsbury takes a number of cues from Sumlin and his program. They're mirror images: Middling or struggling programs in the present, both pointing toward the future.

"Everyone talks about how cool he is and how he looks and his demeanor and everything else," Sumlin said, "but in 26, 27 years, I haven't seen anyone who works at the game any harder than him. And I've seen a lot of coaches.

"I think people just think he kind of shows up and does some things, and that's not the case."

During a time when even Big 12 flagships Oklahoma and Texas are grappling for position in the conference, currently taking a place in line behind Baylor and TCU, it doesn't project all that well for a program near the bottom like Texas Tech.

But even amid the exhaustion and tension in the building of a 3-7 team, don't tell that to an ever-optimistic Kingsbury. On the day before the Arkansas game, one that would see the Hogs gash the Red Raiders for 438 yards and seven touchdowns on their home turf, Kingsbury offered a quote from Winston Churchill.

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm," Kingsbury said, recalling the former British prime minister's words.

The line has served him well, probably too well, this fall.

"I try to live by that. It isn't always easy," Kingsbury said. "But you have to bring the same fire, same energy."

The article is very much worth your time. Faith and patience are some of the toughest things to wait for, but I do think you will be rewarded.  Also, I found it interesting that Kingsbury referenced that both Gary Patterson and Dan Mullen.  It is my recollection that a particular blogger pointed to those two head coaches about a month ago.

Position Switches. Well, it's not really position switches like we know of them, not like offense to defense, but LAJ's Don Williams talks with safeties coach Trey Haverty, who says that Jalen Barnes, Derrick Dixon and Peyton Hendrix will all be looked at to play the Raider linebacker position in 2015, but they will also all need to be able to play the other two safety positions.  Here's Haverty:

"I'm going to let those guys compete, and the best players are going to play," Haverty said. "It's basically a safety. You need a guy who can blitz, can man cover but also keep force when you've got a fullback (coming) at you, which Derrick's thick enough to do it. Jalen has a chance, Payton. Just find out who wants to go win a spot."

The LAJ also notes that this means that CB Jah'Shawn Johnson will move back to strong safety as he played cornerback for the better part of the year because lack of depth, so that's good for him.  Of course, this also means that there are still only three cornerbacks that the coaches seem to trust, Justis Nelson, Tevin Madison, Nigel Bethel II and you could maybe include new cornerback, D.J. Polite-Bray.

Mahomes Makes a Move. Also from ESPN's Brandon Chatmon, he writes that freshman QB Patrick Mahomes is making plays to be the quarterback next week:

Placed alongside the numbers put up by Tech quarterbacks in recent history, Mahomes' statistics don't stand out. He finished 27 of 50 for 393 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-30 loss to the Sooners. But it was one number in particular, his zero interceptions, that did stand out.

"That was huge," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "That's what we've been missing, really the entire year. We haven't been good enough offensively to turn it over then make up for it. I think that was the key stat that jumped out to me."

It was the Red Raiders' first game without an interception since their Sept. 6 win over UTEP. The Red Raiders' 16 interceptions are tied for 119th among FBS teams, and their 3.4-percent interception percentage is tied for 85th.

Bigger Receivers and Blocking Receivers. This is from the TAMU 24/7 Sports site, but it was interesting to note that the writer considers the idea that one of the reasons why spread teams have success is because the bigger receivers on the outside need to also be able to block, which is something that I think that Texas Tech has lacked, especially at the Z-receiver spot.  It's the idea that even though the bigger receivers offer a bigger target, the bigger receivers also mean more than anything else that you'll have better blockers and eventually a better and more explosive offense.  Considering Texas Tech's current roster, yeah, I can see that really, you're looking at Bradley Marquez having the size and desire to block, with Devin Lauderdale and Dylan Cantrell still learning how important that concept is.  The article concludes that maybe it's not the high profile guy at the wide receiver spot, something that Missouri has proved over the years:

Although both should get bigger over time, it's called into question what type of outside receivers that the Aggies need. Many highly rated outside receivers coming out of high school may or may not be the types of receivers that are willing to block or have the size to do so. As a Missouri has demonstrated over the years with a variety of bigger receivers, it's not so much about pedigree as it is about their size and willingness to be physical players.

Not only that, the Aggies have brought in four star slot receivers like Quiv Gonzalez and want to bring in people like Christian Kirk out of Arizona. However, their most productive slots in the spread offense have been Swope (a converted running back) and Kennedy (a converted quarterback) who could run....and both were three star rated prospects coming out of high school. More importantly, those players have been productive when they've had quality personnel blocking for them in the screen game.

Miscellaneous. Football Study Hall has the advanced box score of last week's game . . . this is a non-football link, but congrats to baseball coach Tim Tadlock who was able to officially announce the best signing class ever for the baseball program, 14th nationally . . .