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Is Kliff Kingsbury’s biggest obstacle himself?

Are the Red Raiders struggling mentally?

NCAA Football: Texas at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

In the midst of the baseball postseason, let’s focus on the sport that our state eats, breathes, and dies for.

When I look at the Texas Tech football team as a whole, I’m baffled that this team struggles to turn in a winning season. There’s no doubt in my mind that the talent on the field is sufficient to produce at least a 7-6 record. While 7-6 should not be something to celebrate, head coach Kliff Kingsbury needs to turn in a winning product this coming Fall.

Many fans scrutinize Kingsbury’s recruiting ability, but Texas Tech has never been a powerhouse on the recruiting trail and in the past few years there have been some incredible athletes on the field dawning the scarlet and black. Ultimately, I believe Kingsbury has lost any confidence he has as a head coach. Mentally, Kingsbury looks drained during the season. In his first season as head coach in Lubbock, there was a swagger to him, but over the years that swagger has turned into worry, confusion, and desperation.

A head coach’s demeanor will have a trickle-down effect on the players, and mentally this team has looked defeated as soon as one thing goes wrong. Kingsbury has lacked the ability to “fire up the troops” when the going gets tough. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t believe in himself, let alone his players. It’s hard to blame a guy when there hasn’t been much success over his tenure as a head coach, but Kingsbury needs to take a page out of Chris Beard’s playbook, with the 4:1 mental is to physical mantra that the men’s basketball team has embraced.

Kingsbury needs to dig deep and find a killer instinct to turn this program around. I think of Bob Stoops and his time at OU as the definition of “killer instinct”. While I don’t particularly like anything OU does, I commend coach Stoops for always kicking the opponent while they are down. During the BCS days, I remember OU being up 37-13 at halftime against Texas in 2003, and the final was 65-13. Coach Stoops buried teams numerous times throughout his career and now I believe it’s time for Kliff to ditch the nice guy act and become the predator, not the prey.

Kingsbury and his staff need to find the mental intensity to embarrass a team while they are down. This team had that opportunity against West Virginia on the road this past Fall, but I saw a team that got comfortable, and complacent. Tech was up 35-17 with 9:11 left in the 3rd quarter and this team didn’t score another point in a loss. Starting with the coaches, the Red Raiders need to gain the mental toughness to close teams out and until they do, we may see more of the same from Kliff Kingsbury’s team.