Spring Takeaways: Coaches Kingsbury, Gibbs, & Jamison ready for spring ball
Texas Tech will start spring football on Saturday, and members of the local media had a chance to interview head coach Kliff Kingsbury in addition to defensive coordinator David Gibbs and new defensive line coach Terrance Jamison heading into the practice period. Their thoughts below...
-Coach Kingsbury on how the first session of offseason training went going into spring ball:
"I think good. Adding those 11 mid-year players has been a big help, having those extra bodies to push the competition and getting ready to go. I like what I've seen. A lot of those guys are back from last season, and growing up a little bit, making some strides in the weight room, so I think it's been productive."
-Coach Kingsbury noted that Nic Shimonek would be the starting quarterback if they had a game tomorrow, as he's earned that right and will get the reps with the first team to start the spring.
-The head coach on what he likes about Shimonek:
"I'd say work ethic. He's the hardest worker in our building, wants to know what everybody does on every play, wants to be in complete control, talented, leader, great thrower of the football, so he's gonna play well for us, but I think just how hard he works each and every day to become a better player is probably his best trait.
-The head coach said they will rotate the rest of the QBs as the backup until they find someone they feel comfortable with.
-Right now, Coach Kingsbury and the rest of the staff have stripped the team - including themselves - of the right to wear a Double T. I asked the head coach why he thought that:
"As a program, players included, we didn't feel like we earned the right to represent that logo. It means a lot to a lot of people, and the way we played in certain games and the inconsistency we showed wasn't up to par, wasn't up to that Texas Tech standard, so we're going to earn that over this spring, this summer, and going into fall camp."
-To go with that, the team is wearing different colored shirts throughout the offseason that essentially represent their rank as far as how they're doing both in the weight room and off the field. It's meant as a bit of accountability. Coach Kingsbury on that:
"That was an idea that Coach Whitt had, just one of his military-type of ideas. Just different levels. Everybody starts at the bottom, and you earn your way up by off the field things, on the field things, how you improve in the weight room, how you improve in your running, and so it's hard to hide when you have a different color of shirt than those other guys, and that's kind of the purpose to single some people out and make sure they keep up with the group."
-Everyone starts with a brown shirt, which they can then trade up into a gray shirt from, can trade up into a white shirt from there, and then can get back the red and black at the top. Players can go down a shirt color as well if they aren't performing up to snuff in any area on or off the field.
-Coach Kingsbury noted that senior wide receiver Ian Sadler has retired from football due to his knee injury that he suffered back in 2015 and played through at times in 2016. He mostly just wanted to finish out the 2016 season once it was determined that his knee likely wasn't going to cooperate, which he did, and now he's retired per mostly doctor's orders.
-I asked the head coach how he thought his 11 early enrollees had been adapting so far this spring:
"Really well. I think having that many has helped. With that big of a group, they an lean on each other over there, talk through it, and we have a good group coming back, a veteran group that has embraced those guys, so I think the power of the herd has really helped them coming in all together like that."
"I think this group has done a good job of indoctrinating them what we're about, how we practice, how we do things, so I expect them to slide right in."
-As far as the offense, Coach Kingsbury is looking for the group to gain more consistency in their play. More on that:
"Just consistency. You can't have three games throughout the year where you just don't show up on that side of the ball with that much talent and as many playmakers as we had. We've got to figure that deal out. I just think it comes with leadership, it comes with more consistency in practice, and then precision and detail. A lot of the times Pat made us right on stuff, and we have to better at running back, have to be better up front, and then at wideout we have to run better routes and create more separation, cause obviously Pat did some great things running around making some plays, but we can't leave it up to the quarterback to bail us out every time."
-On hiring Coach Terrance Jamison as the new D-line coach:
"We had interviewed him the year before actually, and it just didn't work out. But, when the time came for us to start looking for other people, he was a name we had on our short list, and Coach Gibbs had a relationship with him from other people that knew him, so that's how that came about."
-The offensive line is a major work in progress right now according to the head coach. He feels there are only three players that would be guaranteed starters if there was a game tomorrow, and even their positions would be up in the air:
"We're just going to kind of flip it around really. Paul Stawarz will be up there, Terence Steele will be up there, Madison (Akamnonu) will be up there, and then the rest of the positions will kind of be day in, day out. We'll flop it around and move people around, see where they all fit, but I wouldn't say we have a starting O-line to start with."
-A name missing from that group is Tony Morales. Coach Kingsbury surprisingly noted that Tony is likely not a starter right now, and that Paul Stawarz would likely start at center instead if a game were tomorrow. More:
"We'll see. He probably won't go with the ones to start. We just feel like there's some strides he needs to makes, so he'll probably be running with the twos to start off."
-DC David Gibbs on getting things rolling this spring:
"I'm excited for Saturday just like everyone else is. The kids have had a good six weeks of offseason training since coming back to school. We'll see how all the strength gains and weight gains, how all those play out whenever they actually start playing this game called football."
-The secondary is going to look fairly different with three new JUCO early enrollees and transfer Willie Sykes in the mix, so I asked Coach Gibbs his thoughts on the group going into spring ball:
"I said after signing day that we brought three junior college DBs in here, and all three of them have gotten bigger, faster, stronger in the six weeks since they've been here. Obviously a different body type than the players we've had in the past. But, I've said since I've been here that at the end of the day, they've got to go out there and play. Saturday is step number one, we'll continue to progress, and hopefully we'll see some drastic changes."
-Coach Gibbs on the team not being able to wear Double Ts until they earn them:
"I kind of like it. It makes sense. Any time you under perform and don't meet the standards this university, this football team represents, then something out to be taken away from you. I think these kids are working hard to earn it back, and I think they're on the way to doing it."
-Gibbs on hiring Terrance Jamison as the D-line coach:
"I've known Coach Jamison for a few years now, and there's a tree there of well respected defensive line coaches that I've known. A good football coach, and we had a bunch of people that wanted to be the defensive line coach here, and we're fortunate enough to get Coach Jamison."
-I also asked the DC what he thinks about the defensive line unit heading into the spring:
"It's a good room. It really is a good room. How good of football players they're going to be has yet to be seen, but a bunch of big body kids that have gotten bigger and stronger since we got here, even though we only signed one defensive lineman, which a bunch of people have informed me about since singing day. We're excited to watch this group we've got go out there, and Coach Jamison is excited. We'll need all those big bodies, which ya'll know with going against our offense this spring with as fast as our offense goes. Look forward to watching those guys running around."
-Coach Gibbs was asked about his "Must see in person" philosophy before offering players. His thoughts:
"Obviously in recruiting, it's not really about who you don't get. It's about who you do get and have on campus, and the process of trying to eliminate mistakes, if you can see a young man practice or do any sort of athletic activity, that only enhances your chance of not making a mistake. We try to hold back, and a lot of people give me slack about it, which I really couldn't care less. We can't miss. When you're trying to rebuild a defense, you can't have guys, first of all, who don't want to be there, and second of all who aren't good enough to be there, and I think we've cleaned it up. I think you'll see a different looking team. Now, at the end of the day we've got to go play good, which I've said, but at the end of the day I think you'll be impressed with these new guys we've got out there, and hopefully they practice well."
-On former UNT defensive end transfer Eli Howard and what he expects out of the sophomore from day one this spring:
"Eli is a guy that since he's been here has been one of the most dynamic players we've had on defense, which you guys have not seen. It will not take you long to pick him out even though his hair hangs down to his waistline. He just plays with a bunch of energy, young man who knows how to play multiple position, excited to watch him play within the structure of the defense, because any time you sit out and redshirt and are playing scout team, you become a freelance kind of guys, so it's easy to kind of catch everybody's eye when you're playing streetball. But, I expect him to fit right into the scheme and do exactly what he's supposed to do and make an immediate impact."
-As far as leaders in his unit, the DC noted they're still looking for them:
"That's a good question. They don't have double Ts and they don't probably have Cs on those jerseys either. But, we've had a bunch of guys step up, and that's something we've been doing. Coach Whitt has been preaching on it, Coach Kingsbury has been preaching on it in the weight room and in the workouts, and we've got to create some leadership on defense. It's different to be in there rah rahing in the weight room, rah rahing when you're out there running sprints than when you're rah rahing on the offensive snap of the ball in under eight seconds when you can still rah rah and do your job. Then we'll find out who the real leaders are."
"Improve every day, two guys that have improve ever since they've been here. Obviously they both got to play a bunch of football last year and have some serious experience from that. But at the same time, nobody has a job right now. Everybody is fighting for their Double Ts, fighting for their lives, and fighting to make this a good defense. But, any time you've got two guys that have played against Big 12 opponents coming back up front it helps. But again, I look forward to watching those guys compete every day."
-Coach Jamison on what drew him to Tech, Coach Gibbs, and why he chose to accept the job:
"I had a couple of options, but this just stuck out as the best opportunity for me and my family. Coach Gibbs obviously is well known in the coaching industry, has a lot of experience, a lot of connections, and the background that I have and the coaches that I've worked for have built a great relationship with Coach Gibbs, and it just made sense."
Coach Charlie Partridge, who was Coach Jamison's position coach at Wisconsin and whom he worked under as an assistant both there and at FAU, and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema were two of the coaches who got Coach Gibbs hooked up with Jamison.
-Seeing as he's coming in right before spring ball, Jamison will likely have to catch up on the overall scheme, but he doesn't personally feel he'll have to do much learning from a fundamental standpoint:
"The game of football doesn't change. The schemes differ at times, but the basic fundamentals are really what's most important in terms of developing a player."
-I asked Coach Jamison if his first year group at Tech will be similar to the first year group he had at FAU, which was young but talented at the time:
"I think that's fair to say," he said. "The group is fairly young, a lot of guys have some experience, playing experience, but some guys don't. You want to develop them all the same regardless of the type of experience they have."
-Coach Jamison on what he wants to accomplish this spring:
"There's a number of things we want to get accomplished. What we want to do first is develop the guys and make sure we're focusing on fundamentals, obviously establish a two deep going into the summer and then the fall, and then try to develop some pass rushers as well."