We like to joke that you can basically sub any answer during this year’s Big 12 Media Day with an answer from 2014 and we wouldn’t know any better. It’s all the same questions and answers. Texas Tech’s Big 12 Media Day is much more insightful even if it’s filled with similar tired answers and cliches. You can find the highlights at various online outlets including the main presser with Coach Kingsbury as well as the individual interviews with coordinators and position coaches.
“Da’Leon Ward will not start camp on time due to academic issues.” - Whether or not this is an isolated issue that will resolve itself or be a lingering issue throughout the season, time will tell. But the track record of players returning to their spot after dealing with academics under Kingsbury has not been stellar. Some end up transferring as we saw in Spring of 2016 and others remain with the team but find their role greatly reduced due to time away and losing their spot. With the arrival of Desmond Nisby on campus and expected to see significant playing time right away, this might spell trouble for Ward who emerged as the go to Back late last year.
“D’Vonta Hinton is dealing with health issues” - Normally this would be a huge let down for the defense, but this year is different. With one of the deepest linebacking corps Kingsbury has had in his time at Tech, even if Hinton misses significant time, it won’t be the end all for the defense. With the return of Dakota Allen, and the emergence of a young stable of LB’s such as, Jordyn Brooks (So), Brayden Stringer (So), Jonathan Picone (So), Christian Taylor (So), Jamile Johnson (So), Riko Jeffers (Fr) and transfer Tony Jones (Jr) Texas Tech seems to be in great shape heading into the season.
“Jett Duffey is set to return to the team” - In a report by the Avalanche-Journal, suspended QB Jett Duffey is set to return after in mid-August from a two-semester, university implemented suspension. For those who don’t know, Duffey was under Title IX investigation for an incident that occurred in April of 2016. The incident involved Duffey and an “incapacitated” female. It needs to be said that Duffey disputed the details surrounding the incident and there was not enough evidence to proceed with any criminal charges. Whether or not Duffey is going to factor into the depth chart is anyone’s guess. With Xavier Martin moving from QB to WR, it’s altogether possible he may be as high as third behind McLane Carter.
“Kingsbury’s presence with the Defense has unified the team” - In a sit down interview with Coach Gibbs, Gibbs mentioned how counterproductive it was having the Head Coach root against the Defense during practices his first two years here. Alluding to Kingsbury’s focus being mainly on the offense when it comes to play-calling to this point. Gibbs went on to say, that Kingsbury’s increased visibility in meetings and on the defensive sidelines has unified the team into one group as opposed to offense and defense.
“There aren’t enough snaps for the Defensive Backs” - This one is fascinating and nothing new to those following what happened over the last few years. While focusing on the departures of Tevin Madison and Nigel Bethel to other schools, what is sometimes missed is the massive influx of defensive backs into the program. Some of these names you will recognize, but all arrived within the last two recruiting cycles whether from high school or transfer from JUCO or another FBS school. Ready? Douglas Coleman (So), Desmond Smith (So), Kevin Moore (So), Adrian Fyre (Fr), Willie Sykes (So), John Davis Jr (Fr), Thomas Leggett (So), Vaughnte Dorsey (Jr), Quincy Addison (Fr), Jaylon Lane (Jr), Octavious Morgan (Jr), Trevor Walker (Sr). That’s not counting all remaining DBs... DJ Polite Bray (Sr), Kisean Allen (Jr), and Jah’Shawn Johnson (Jr).
“The Defense is finally big enough to play in the Big 12” - This was a cryptic one from Coach Gibbs talking about both the LB corp, DBs and the defense as a whole, but it seems Gibbs is finally excited about his defense here in year 3. Regardless of HS recruiting, incoming transfers or JUCO pickups, it seems Coach Gibbs finally believes this group is big enough and strong enough to play and hold their own against Big 12 offenses. It certainly goes without saying that the return of Dakota Allen and the larger more ball-hawking JUCO Defensive Backs have reinforced his sentiment and if it’s true, it should be fun to watch this season.
Needless to say, there were some good things of note beyond the usual hoping the defense will get better in year 3 under Gibbs and wanting more takeaways on defense. I still think there is a lot to be excited for going into this season. Yes, Mahomes is gone, but this seems to be a more complete team.