Kliff Kingsbury Addresses the Team’s Killer Instinct at Texas Tech Football Media Day [Interview]
We had a chance to have a sit down with Kliff Kingsbury during this year's Texas Tech Football Media Day. While nothing earth shattering was discussed, there were several things I took away from the interview.
First off, I don't think Kliff Kingsbury likes the nickname, "Big Dawg." Duly noted, Kliff. I'll come prepared and on my A-game next time.
Secondly, and yes I understand this was coach-speak, but Kingsbury thinks this team is better now than it was in 2015.
In his own words: "I like this team, I think it's going to be improved from last season... We had a great off-season and we should be an improved football team." Kingsbury wants to win every game. He won't be satisfied with 7-5 or 8-4. That's good news.
I think Tech has lived in the quagmire of mediocrity for far too long. A bowl game doesn't equal a successful season, and that's been the Red Raider goal for far too long.
The Kliffmeister then made the obligatory comment about how good Patrick Mahomes. "I think the sky is the limit. If he's as good as what I saw this spring... I think he can play at a very high level," Kingsbury said.
Time and time again this off-season, it's been said that the first full football-focused off-season of Patrick's life has had an exponentially positive impact on his decision making. I'm ready for September so we can see if that's true.
Throughout the day, the most prevalent name besides Mahomes was Luke Stice.
Kingsbury described him as an "emotional leader," which was echoed throughout the day. Stice is a fiery, passionate guy who gets slapped in the face to get amped.
"He likes the juice," is how Kingsbury put it. "He brings it every day."
Luke Stice is the kind of leader that this team has been missing. I think Kingsbury and Defensive Coordinator David Gibbs targeted Stice for a reason, and I think that will pay dividends this season. Maybe not on the stat sheets, but his work ethic is palpable and contagious, and so is his spirit. I wouldn't be surprised if he was a captain on the defense.
Finally, I asked Kingsbury if Strength and Conditioning Coach Rusty Whitt has helped his team's lack of a killer instinct. After many games in 2014 and 2015, Kingsbury discussed the team's inability to finish off weaker teams. It improved marginally in 2015, but there were still games that got away in the end that seemed winnable in the second half.
Coach Kingsbury mentioned two things that Coach Whitt has brought to this team: "Consistency and accountability."
Those may not seem like the ingredients for a killer instinct, but if you can be more consistent under pressure and have accountability to perform in the times when you absolutely must perform, those are definitely key ingredients to finishing off games in a more dominant fashion.