1. How do you define success for Texas Tech in 2014?
LSRR: To echo Coach Kingsbury, consistency. That can mean several things, whether it's being consistent in moving the ball offensively or committing fewer penalties. Tech also needs to improve in their ability to generate turnovers, and at the same token, their ability to maintain possession. Last season, we had 33 turnovers and only gained 19. That put us at 121st in the country. Only Cal and Southern Miss had a worse margin than that.
Success can be defined in a variety of ways. Last year, I would've been okay with the thought of going 7-5 with a bowl game win under Kingsbury's first year with two freshman QB's. But, the fact that we went on another end-of-the-year skid really left a bad taste in my mouth. If we're looking at a number of games, I would feel great about going 8-4 with another bowl game win. Ask me again, though, if those 4 losses are consecutive.
MikeTTU: Success can come in multiple ways in 2014, The first way is obviously with our record. I think that we can consider our record a success if we finish with a better record in 2014 than 2013, which would consist of 8 wins, 9 if you include the bowl game. Secondly, we need our younger players to improve at a good rate heading into the 2015 season. The majority of this season is very young and will still be in tact next season. Finally, we must do well on the recruiting trail. I think finishing with a Top 30 class would be considered a success for this team (we finished in the low 40's last year). If we can do all this, we take a major step in becoming a national power.
Travis: I think success is defined as an improvement in wins over last year. I would certainly think that a 10 win season (including a bowl win) would be a successful run for a team that's really still trying to define itself.
Seth: If Texas Tech and improve in the small things, the things that I think I took for granted last year, then this team is going to be better. We'll get to specifics below, but if the special teams can be marginally better and this team can really improve on the penalties, then I'm really confident about the improvement overall. This week, Kliff Kingsbury mentioned how this team was simply terrible in turnover margin and penalties. If Webb is even marginally better than last year and without having Mayfield cough up fumbles, then I think it will be okay. Just as an aside, Texas Tech had 15 fumbles and 18 interceptions last year. That's 33 turnovers. Ugh.
DoubleTFaithful: Success in my mind for Tech would be to see a more consistent product on the field. More consistent production on offense; not going 3 and out as quickly. More consistent on defense and not getting plowed for 300 yards on the ground. I don't think we can measure progress this year by the W/L column because Tech could be field a better team and go 7-5 again.
2. One of the things that head coach Kliff Kingsbury said this week was that trading Sonny Cumbie for Darrin "Big Money" Chiaverini was best for all parties. What do you expect the impact to Chiaverini to be this season?
LSRR: I expect an immediate impact. Having someone truly devoted to special teams allows for more consistency (there's that word again) in practice, game planning, and execution.
MikeTTU: I expect Chiaverini is have a big impact on and off the field this season. Our special teams can't get much worse than last season (no disrespect to Haverty), so if we can limit the turnovers and maybe get a few big gains or scores, we can consider that a great improvement from last season. Also, Big Money is helping us extend our brand on the West Coast, which could help us with recruiting in the area. We already have two west coast players thanks to Chiaverini (Robertson and Lafele) and could maybe get more in 2016 and possibly even 2015 thanks to him. I expect us to see his impact immediately.
Travis: I really like Hollywood's energy. I think the impact will be in the difference he brings to the table as opposed to Cumbie. Cumbie is great, but his perspective almost mirrors Kingsbury's- both QB's, Tech grads, etc. Chiaverini coming in from California with different life experiences should help mix things up. A different voice, with the same goal in mind, is a good thing.
Seth: Let's just think about how bad Texas Tech was on some really important statistics. Texas Tech was 85th in the nation in punt returns, 101st in punt returns allowed, 75th in kickoff returns allowed, and 63rd in kickoffs. Texas Tech was certainly okay in some areas, 16th in kickoff returns, 40th in punting, and 20th in kicking. A large portion of those areas where Texas Tech was poor dealt with coverage and punt returns, I think, Kingsbury's desire not to turn the bal lover because Texas Tech was turning the ball over at a very high rate already, he couldn't take any chances. If Chiaverini can get Texas Tech in the top third of those return and return allowed categories then he's paid for his spot 10 times over.
DoubleTFaithful: I don't know what my expectations are for an improved special teams unit. I can list a few things that I can hope for though. ZERO muffed/fumbled punts. More consistent yards on kick returns. Really, just fewer boneheaded plays.
3. What was your biggest takeaway from the Big 12 Media Days (can be related to Texas Tech or the Big 12 in general)?
LSRR: I learned that my Armitron would not have made headlines on deadspin, and that Coach Snyder has a way with words. "My degree of optimism is negotiated daily" is a statement that mirrors my general outlook on life and, especially, the Red Raiders.
MikeTTU: I didn't watch much of the Big XII media day, but I love the confidence in this program right now. Kingsbury feels for comfortable this time around and ready to go, while the players acted like they could compete with anyone in the conference. They feel that they can compete everyday and win the Big XII. While I personally don't think it'll happen this year, you can't count the Red Raiders out of the running.They improved from last season and have a chance to provide stability on the offense while having less turnovers and penalties. It should be a very exiting season this year.
Travis: I think the Media Days overall by the Big 5 conferences really set the tone that things are about to fundamentally change across the college football (and potentially basketball) landscape. The NCAA is essentially a useless body now and the conferences will call their own shots. It may not always be fun, but it's going to be interesting to watch, for sure.
Seth: The thing that stood out to me was watching Kingsbury. He is maturing as a head coach. He seems that he is much more comfortable with the entire process. There was no nervous laughter or opening statement. Just business. Of course, you have to compare that to what happened at the ESPN Carwash and I think he can somewhat gets a sense of his audience. I somewhat do the same thing at work. I have a certain personality that I have with clients and another personality that I have with friends and family. It seems like he knows when to turn that on and when he doesn't. I think he's starting to find that balance.
DoubleTFaithful: My biggest takeaway was that Kingsbury acknowledged he is still growing in his role as head coach. He acknowledged that he could have been more consistent (see a theme?) during that losing streak.