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Matador Mailbag: Where are the adjustments?

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Hatfield set to return, coaching staff inquires and how to adjust the adjustments

Nikopoia

Prologue: It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Tech’s losses this season have been frustrating simply because we know 1) how well we can play and 2) that we could easily be 6-2 right now as opposed to 4-4. Long gone are the thoughts that this Tech team is over-matched and could only win a handful of games based on the talent on the field and the loss of Patrick Mahomes to the NFL. Now our thoughts revolve around questions about why this team is so out of sync? That if somehow the offense and defense can play in rhythm, that they cold be the force we all want them to be.

The easy answer, like in business, is to blame the guy in charge. Especially when it’s easier to fire the manager of a department rather than the work force. Often times, most managerial changes have nothing to do with performance of said manager (coach), but rather the under performance of the work force despite the manger doing everything right and putting his people in positions to succeed. Most astute players know when that is the case and it’s used as a wake up call that their performance just got their manager fired.

If we look at the season strictly based on the parameters set up at the beginning of the season for success, if Kingsbury and company make a bowl, there is no way Tech can fire him. With the recent position opening up at Florida and some other power 5 schools, Tech’s pickings will be slim to begin with and feel more like stale left-overs at the end. If however, Tech loses out, a change may need to come just to shake the players out of apathy. Kingsbury has lived and led the comebacks, blowouts, wins and defeats as a player and now is trying to get his team to believe in the same. I will say, 5 years later and nothing to the contrary, Kingsbury telling his players in a huddle “We are going to go win this game right here”, must sound pretty empty to players who haven’t been able to make that become a reality.

Is it all on Kingsbury? No. If we are to be objective about this it’s entirely 50/50. But if you’re Kirby Hocutt, knowing that this team only has 17 seniors on roster and only 5 of those are starters (maybe 7 total as contributors), do you see the potential in all these young players on offense and defense to see what Kingsbury can do with his first stable recruiting classes and coaching staff? Or knowing that, do you try to get these players a fresh face, something to believe in, just to shake things up during their last 2-3 years?

Mail call! Send in your questions and see if I keep repeating myself or not

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 29, 2017

You make a point I have had similar thoughts about. Are we seeing a lack of Kingsbury in offensive meetings show up on Saturday’s? Regardless, the team does need to score more in the second half, no question. I think it’s more about Kingsbury trying to lean on his improved defense and run out the clock. The other side of that is, is he making adjustments? Yes and no. No one comments about being on the verge of being blown out by Oklahoma State and then making adjustments to get back into the game only to tie and not win. All we see is a point in the game where there isn’t a chance to make meaningful adjustments. Because why make adjustments when everything is going your way? Take the West Virginia game. Why would Kingsbury and company make adjustments when you’re winning 35-24 (at the end of the 3rd and your D just got an INT) and your game plan is working? That’s on Dana at that point. A lesser talented team wouldn’t have been able to come back, but WVU was, so credit to them.

Mail call! Send in your questions and see if I keep repeating myself or not

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 29, 2017

In the OU game, we got away from the run game. Partly because Kingsbury had to adjust after Tech’s opening drive of almost 7 minutes and a lot of Tre King runs. Oklahoma had a 3 man front, just like the Iowa State game, and when they brought a 4th man down on the line, he try to open it up into the pass. That adjustment worked with TD passes to Coutee and Cantrell. Then Oklahoma started to bring pressure, which Shimonek didn’t handle well. Balls were off target, overthrown and at times dropped that would have converted on 3rd down. Just how it goes when you play at Top 10 team on the road.

Mail call! Send in your questions and see if I keep repeating myself or not

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 29, 2017

Right now, my money is on McClane Carter. I know everyone would like to Jett Duffey get a shot, probably because he reminds them of Mahomes, but Carter is more of a finished product. The problem with all the backups this year is none of them have any real experience in the system. McClane is a JUCO transfer and Duffey was suspended all of last year and just got back at the end of August.

As for new recruits coming in, the main one is Alan Bowman. He’s a 3-star, pocket passer at 6’3 208. He’s probably going to be redshirted next year depending on the depth outlook.

Mail call! Send in your questions and see if I keep repeating myself or not

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 29, 2017

This is why bowl games have been so important to so many different programs. If you end the year winning a bowl game, the entire year feels like it’s a success. If you lose a bowl game, the entire year feels like a failure. Think back to 2008. Arguably the best year Texas Tech has ever had. But the fact that Tech lost 2 of it’s last 3 games, including the bowl game to Ole Miss... that season is largely seen as a failure. Now take Tommy Tuberville’s first year in 2010. We were 4-4 and 5-5 at one point that year. But we ended that season on a 3 game win streak including a bowl win over Northwestern. No one cares that we had two non-con games to end the season to help us get bowl eligible, it just feels different when you end winning.

Start the season 0-4 and end winning 8 straight and fans would feel so good about that season. Start 8-0 and end on a 4 game losing streak and it was a horrible season. All about perspective.

Mail call! Send in your questions and see if I keep repeating myself or not

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 29, 2017

We don’t negotiate with terrorists.

Mail call! Send in your questions and see if I keep repeating myself or not

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 29, 2017

Blame Texas and Texas A&M, partly, for this one. When A&M was a part of the Big 12, the traditional Texas vs A&M game was the Friday after Thanksgiving. Once A&M left for the SEC, Texas wanted to keep that traditional game spot and Tech and TCU took them up on their offer. In years when Texas comes to Lubbock, TCU has the “Thanksgiving” game in Austin. In alternating years, when Tech has to go to Austin they take it. Now what does this have to do with Baylor?

Well the home game vs Baylor game is traditionally set on Thanksgiving weekend. Texas Tech doesn’t sell out that game most years. According to Kirby Hocutt, Texas Tech makes about $3 million from a home sellout. Buy having the game in Arlington, Texas Tech makes about $2 million each year. So over a two year period Texas Tech would make an extra million by having the game at a neutral site.

Texas Tech also likes the exposure it gets to playing in a market where recruits and alumni can come to the game. They also like having one of the few games on national television during Thanksgiving or the day after. Good news is, the agreement between Tech and Baylor will end after the 2018 game. If another agreement isn’t reached it could go back to a traditional home and home setup.

Mail call! Send in your questions and see if I keep repeating myself or not

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 29, 2017

I understand your thinking on this, but why abandon your game plan you worked on all week when you’re winning? In the game vs Oklahoma St, Texas Tech made adjustments that allowed them to come back and tie late and have a chance to take the lead. In the West Virginia game, they were up double digits going into the 4th quarter and had just intercepted a pass. The previous two possessions were a TD and a missed FG. At that point, you’re not supposed to randomly make an adjustment for something that hadn’t happened yet.

In the Oklahoma game, Tech established the run. Forcing OU to bring in another lineman and establish a 4 man front. Tech went to the pass and scored on the next two possessions. Oklahoma then started to bring more blitz packages to rattle Shimonek. Shimonek overthrew some receivers and Cantrell dropped a few that would have been converted. Tech also had to force the issue going for it on 4th down three times, failing to convert each time. The issue was that Tech had no answer for OU’s run game. But that was from the beginning of the game. It was an overall problem for the defense, but adjustments are constantly made, quarter to quarter, possession to possession. It’s why one series, Tech marches down the field and scores and the next, sputters. But I wouldn’t characterize it as a wholesale, “can’t make adjustments” viewpoint.

Mail call! Send in your questions and see if I keep repeating myself or not

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 29, 2017

I remember when Kingsbury was hired was that he was the youngest head coach in the FBS and had no previous head coach experience that he would need to be given time. Well he messed with people expectations by winning his first 7 games and taking Tech to a Top 10 ranking. Since then, the time thing has been shoved in the basement and forgotten about.

In 2014, it wasn’t expected that Kingsbury immediately recover from Matt Wallerstedt either being “dismiessed for being under the influence” (if true who knows how long that was going on) or if he just up and quit mid season and resigned. So for me the first two seasons were preseason. Can’t blame him for things outside of his control mid-season.

The next year, David Gibbs comes in and immediately has issues with co-defensive coordinator Mike Smith. Sealing his fate and the majority of the defensive staff.

In 2016, Texas Tech gets none of their first choices on staff hires, ok maybe one. But Kevin Patrick seemed like a reach and he was gone as soon as he could. I have it on good authority that players couldn’t stand him. Let’s not talk about him having to replace his strength and condtioning coach, running backs coach with Coach Foster, (not his first choice either) who bolted for his alma mater in UCLA at the end of the season, or replacing Darrin Chiaverini who left for his alma mater in Colorado. Coaching turnover has been an issue.

Some see it as an inablity of Kingsbury to make correct staff hires, I see it as many coaches leaving for their alma maters or straight up using Tech to further their career.
The good news is David Gibbs is in his third year and seems to have his first choice in Terrance Jamison at DL coach (a good up and coming coach) and Kingsbury got his first choice at running backs coach from a year ago in Jabbar Juluke, who went to LSU instead in 2016.

Also considering that Spike Dykes had the same win total as Kingsbury had through 4 seasons and only led Tech to two bowl games in his first 7 years, I think we can afford to be patient with Kingsbury. But the last 4 games will make that determination regardless of what I think.

Mail call! Send in your questions and see if I keep repeating myself or not

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 29, 2017

If you’re going to make me choose it has to be Brent Venables. The question is, would he be willing to come to Lubbock? I kinda doubt it. Some people like Sonny Cumbie, but I don’t. He’s Kingsbury Lite. Same resume as when Kingsbury started and his offense put up ZERO points against Iowa State last week. ZERO. So anyone saying Cumbie just wants someone different just for the sake of having someone different with no actual consideration to improved quality.

If you can’t get Venables, stick with Kingsbury. Les Miles maybe interested, but ultimately he’s Tuberville and gone before you can blink.

Mail call! Send in your questions and see if I keep repeating myself or not

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 29, 2017

Barden made his final three extra point tries so that’s something. Clayton Hatfield is close to returning according to Kingsbury. He’s a 50/50 chance to play this week. The fact that he’s even considering using Hatfield instead of applying for a medical redshirt this late in the season should tell you all you need to know about Kingsbury trying to find a kicker.

Mail call! Send in your questions and see if I keep repeating myself or not

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 29, 2017

Have to score in the Red Zone. We are awful once we get inside the 20. That has to improve. It’s not even about missing field goals, it’s about not being able to get a push in the run game when you need it. If Tech is to win this game, they have to score every time they get inside the red zone. For reference Texas Tech is ranked 123rd in Red Zone offense.

10th in total offense, 17th in scoring and 123rd in red zone offense. Tells you everything you need to know about this season offensively.

You’re right. They are all winnable, but they are all dangerous. The most dangerous is Texas looming the last game of the season. They seem to be slowly figuring things out and their defense is starting to scare me a bit. Teams with new coaches you kinda want to play early in the season. Playing them at the end of the season gets you in trouble... see Iowa State 2016.

I honestly don’t think it matters too much. Tech has been the crucible for young coaches since Leach came in, in 2000.

Before coming to Tech, Dana Holgorsen was at Wingate; Art Briles was a HS coach; Mike Jenks was a HS coach; Lincoln Riley and Sonny Cumbie were GA’s at one point... so it’s just about getting the right coach in at Tech. Texas Tech will never be on par with Alabama or other big blue bloods when it comes to assistant coaches salary. For example... Before Kirby Smart took over at Georgia, he made $1.5 million to run Alabama’s defense. Brent Venables makes $1.4m as DC at Clemson. David Gibbs makes $550k.

Doesn’t mean Texas Tech’s defense can’t be good for that money, but Tech isn’t in a position to pay assistant coaches that much considering they maybe on the hook for Kingsbury’s buyout next month.

Epilogue: This was one of the best mailbags this season. Tempered, well reasoned questions was a welcome sight and I thank you for that. I still think it’s important to remember that the season will turn out however it turns out with very little influence from us the fan base. No amount of calls or defense on the job status of Kingsbury will change Kirby Hocutt’s decision other than his criteria at the end of the year. What’s more important than the trolling and snark to call for Kingsbury to be fired after every loss is to continue to rally around this team for the last 4 games. Two of which are at home and one is in Dallas. Though it’s an 11am game, I would encourage everyone to show up in force at the game and show support for this team to get out of this rut they are in. Nothing will ensure they stay in this rut more than making it an easy environment for the visiting team. More than anything, we’ll see how this team feels about their head coach, coaching for his job, than how they come out and play on Saturday.

Next week, I think I’ll respond to the mailbag with only gifs. What do y’all think?

Thanks again for the questions and keep supporting your Red Raiders!