Texas Tech defensive coordinator David Gibbs and offensive coordinator Kevin Johns met with the media on Sunday afternoon to discuss their units and how things are going to get the spring started...
Gibbs excited about age, depth of this defense this spring
-DC David Gibbs is excited to bring back so many pieces from his defense last season, as it's a unit with a ton of experience already.
"Probably as veteran of a group as I've coached defensively. We only lost four guys in our two deep. That's good and bad news. It means we bring a bunch of players back, but obviously they didn't play good enough last year, cause we still didn't get the job done enough times. But, now when you install, when you do drills, when you go forward, they know what to expect, they know what to do, the learning curve is so much different, and that gives you an advantage."
-Gibbs is hoping to improve on a big list of things defensively this spring as they ready for next season, but something he really harped on was trying to limit defensive penalties:
"(I'd like to improve on) A lot of things," he said. "Obviously we had way too many penalties on defense last year. Just things that are self inflicted, which playing against these offenses in this conference, you can't have that many self inflicted penalties and expect to be good. We have a veteran group, they know what we need to work on, and hopefully we'll get things corrected."
-With it being such a veteran-heavy defense, how would a young or new player go about finding the field right now?
"He better be really freaking good right now," said Gibbs. "Which is really good for the Texas Tech defense, really good for our football team, but a year ago, Riko Jeffers walked on campus in June and we didn't expect him to do anything, and honestly he could've started 13 games for us last year. He's that good. It can be done, but at the same time, we don't have to force anybody or rush anybody to go play."
-Tech will add four defensive backs that redshirted a year ago to the mix this spring: Adrian Frye, Thomas Leggett, Quincy Addison, and John Davis. Gibbs gave some thoughts on the group:
"Very excited. All four of them I think are going to be really good players in this conference. They've got to beat some guys out who've had a whole lot of playing time and some experience, but competition makes everybody better, and I know that's old coaching talk, but shoot, when those guys come out here, every rep they get, if they don't execute, if they don't do their job, then the guy behind them can take their reps from them."
-Gibbs was also asked if he'd change much up schematically this spring:
"I will do anything I can to get better on third down, in the redzone, and everything else. We're pretty much like everybody else. We have every different style of defense, every style of blitz package that everybody has. We just have to find out what we do well and stick with it."
-With Gibbs talking about how good Riko Jeffers was a year ago and will be moving forward, the DC was asked if they'd try to get Jeffers on the field by bringing another linebacker into packages more. Maybe not, as GIbbs like the amount of depth they have right now:
"I'd rather play with three guys in two spots, and I'd hope we'd develop a fourth and have four guys play, cause we pretty much play two deep at every spot except our linebacker spots. Riko, he was a true freshman and being a chicken coach I just didn't put him in there enough. He's been out here with the ones today cause a couple of guys are nicked up. It's gonna be some great competition, cause just cause Jordyn and Dakota have started multiple years doesn't mean they're going to start this year."
-Coach Gibbs noted that Tony Jones and Kolin Hill will get the majority of the snaps at rush end this spring with Lonzell Gilmore still recovering from injury. Aaron Calcote, a redshirt freshman walk-on, will also get some reps and snaps at the rush. Gibbs said they could potentially play Riko Jeffers at rush if they wanted to, too.
-Broderick Washington has been playing at the nose instead of the tackle the first few days of camp here, as they're trying to cross train him at the position. However, as for who will most likely play the nose, Gibbs said that competition is currently between Joe Wallace and Nick McCann, as expected.
-Coach Gibbs talked a bit about redshirt freshman defensive lineman Nelson Mbanasor, who he said came on very strong late in the fall in practice.
"Because of some injury, because some guys are nicked up, he's actually gone with the ones the last two days," said Gibbs. "He's looked good, and he has a bright future."
-Mbanasor has been running at defensive tackle, but Gibbs feels like he could play any of the four positions on their line.
"In our scheme, defensive tackle and defensive end are pretty much the same thing, although you're in to the boundary instead of to the field. But, he's played the zero nose before. He's played both sides. Honestly, he's athletic enough that he could play rush."
Johns busy getting into the swing of things, excited about his unit's potential
-I asked offensive coordinator Kevin Johns about his first two days of practice at Tech, if it's mostly been about putting names to faces:
"A lot of it, but I'm hoping after these first two days with the next practice that I don't feel like I'm a rookie anymore. Yesterday my head was on a swivel trying to figure out which way to go, but today was a lot better. But, I like our guys. I think they're working hard, competing hard, and every day I'm growing with them."
"This is a huge step to me to finally get out on the field and see the signals and the entire operation, run some plays, and coach on the film. As a coach, there's only so much you can do in the meeting room until you actually come out and do it on the field. So, this to me, this spring ball session it's important for our entire staff to grow together."
-Johns was asked about the receivers, particularly TJ Vasher, as Vasher is the lone true veteran returning in the receiving corps:
"He's doing well. I think TJ is still growing himself. He's still trying to transform his body, grow in the weight room, but he certainly has all the tools to be a dynamic, big time guy, and we certainly expect him to be."
-The first year OC also gave his initial thoughts on QBs Jett Duffey and McLane Carter:
"I like them both. I think they can both make plays with their legs, which to us is going to open up a different dynamic. They're smart kids. They put in a lot of work over the offseason. We haven't had a lot of mental busts in the first two days. So, I think the sky is the limit for both of those guys, and I expect a lot out of them. Right now, they're really just trying to take care of themselves, and the leadership piece will go to another level once they get comfortable just playing quarterback."
-I asked Coach Johns about the tight end position moving forward, if they're thinking about inserting more tight end packages into the mix beginning this spring:
"Right now we're still feeling out who we are. We'll know after spring ball what we have. We think we have a couple of bodies at the position we can try, a couple of running backs that we're going to roll out there at the same time, but at the end of the day we're going to play fast and use our personnel to the best, so we'll know here in a couple of weeks."
-Johns on what he sees out of his offensive line right now:
"I like them a lot. I really just like how they've grown up and matured. We've talked to them about how last year was a great year for ya, but next year needs to be even better, cause we're all experienced, all another year stronger, another year in the system, so we're going to lean on those guys heavily. But, it's been a good start so far."