Takeaways: Red Raiders preparing for Week 1
Kliff Kingsbury and members of the Texas Tech football team met with the media following the Red Raiders' Thursday practice. Here are the latest notes, quotes and takeaways from the day's action.
- Kingsbury said that if the team played a game tomorrow, the coaching staff would know the two-deep and who they would be playing. He declined to comment on how many freshmen would be in the two-deep.
- Another positive development is that Kingsbury said that he felt the team was ready to go out and play a game last week which puts them ahead of where they have been in the past.
- With only nine sleeps to go before Texas Tech's kick-off versus Stephen F. Austin, Kingsbury cited the team camaraderie as the most positive development so far in camp.
“I think the camaraderie of the team. I think it is a very selfless team. A lot of guys pushing each other, holding each other accountable. A lot of cheering for each other instead of cheering for the other one to fail so that they could move up the chart. That’s been the fun part for me.”
- The first-team offense today consisted of Dylan Cantrell, Jonathan Giles and Devin Lauderdale at receiver with Madison Akamnonu at right tackle, Justin Murphy at right guard, Tony Morales at center, and then Baylen Brown and Terence Steele at left guard and tackle respectively. They also started out with a two-back set with Quinton White and Justin Stockton in the backfield.
- Morales worked with the ones today but Kingsbury confirmed that Paul Stawarz and Morales have been alternating at center. They will have a couple more practices and then have the starter figured out by Monday.
- Either way, Kingsbury is pleased with having depth at center as he was not expecting Stawarz to push so heavily for a starting center spot. He thinks it is a dead heat currently for the spot and feels comfortable putting either in at guard or center.
- As a whole, Kingsbury feels fully comfortable going forward with about eight to nine offensive linemen at the moment. He cited that a lot of the freshmen will have to be ready to go but is expecting good things from newcomers Travis Bruffy and Jack Reichel.
“He (Bruffy) is really the guy right now. Those other guys, if they need to play, will have ways to go to get caught up. I think Travis has really emerged from the freshmen group as well as Jack which is another one we feel like could play this year. The other ones have a way to go.”
- When asked about the cornerback situation, Kingsbury said that he likes three cornerbacks currently and feels confident that Thierry Nguema, Paul Banks and DJ Polite-Bray will be the guys out there manning the outside with Justis Nelson at nickel.
- According to the head coach, Clayton Hatfield is one of the hardest workers on the team. Kingsbury said he earned his scholarship last year, and they are happy to have him.
- Kingsbury said that they are ready to cut things loose on Saturday.
“Just sharpen everything up. There has been a lot of improvement. We have had the gameplan in now for a couple of days. They are picking that up. They need to continue to stay disciplined, play clean, and then we will cut it loose next Saturday.”
- Sophomore safety Jah’Shawn Johnson also spoke with the media today and said he has noticed an improvement in the team’s discipline, his teammates' ability to stay in and hold their gaps and how quickly everyone has been flying to the football and getting turnovers.
- According to what we know so far, it seems that plenty of freshmen will be thrown in early at defensive line, linebacker, and defensive back. Johnson feels good about all the freshmen DBs so far.
“I’m very confident in them. They have been in the playbook ever since they got here on day one. They ask questions when they need help. We have been helping them off the field, too. They stay around us so that they can make sure they are hearing what coach Scott and coach Gibbs are having to say, too. I think they are ready to play.”
- Other big contributors have been Keenon Ward, Nelson, Hendrix and Nguema according to Johnson. Hendrix has been making plays all camp.
- The media also got the chance to talk with Patrick Mahomes today as well. When asked about the receivers, he singled out Devin Lauderdale and Keke Coutee as guys who have had tremendous camps, and he is expecting a lot out of the two on the field this year.
- The junior signal caller said he is not concerned by the fact that he doesn’t have a “go-to” receiver and says that he likes it that way. It makes the offense more versatile when you can throw it to the small, quick guys or to the big, tall guys. On any play his “go-to” guy could be different.
- An awesome sight to watch recently has been Mahomes' connection with senior flanker, Reginald Davis. Mahomes has now hit Davis on long-ball touchdowns a few times this week. Davis got behind the secondary to catch a 60-yard TD earlier this week and another 50-yarder this afternoon, too. Mahomes likes the chemistry he has with Davis and is expecting big things – especially consistency – from the senior receiver this year.
- When asked about his backup quarterback, Mahomes feels confident that, if it came down to it, Nic Shimonek could absolutely run the offense at a high level. According to Mahomes, Shimonek puts in the extra work on a daily basis and has really impressed.
- Mahomes made comments before fall practice that the keys to success this season would be the development of the offensive and defensive lines. Nine days before kick off, how have the two lines progressed according to Mahomes?
“The offensive line has been great. They have really stepped it up and want to continue that tradition of great offensive linemen at Texas Tech. I’ve been impressed with the young guys – Terence Steele, Madison Akamnonu – and they have really taken ownership of them being ready to play now.”
“The defensive line has been awesome. They have really stepped up, too. Breiden Fehoko has really stepped up, Kolin Hill, (Ondre) Pipkins. They have really taken ownership as well. They want to make themselves known and not be the defensive line that gets ran on all over. They are ready to make statement.”
- I asked Mahomes about the hardest hitters on defense so far and he said Payton Hendrix, D’Vonta Hinton and Brayden Stringer are the guys who have really been “laying the hat” and have made the hardest hits so far this camp.
- With Mahomes' former backup Davis Webb set to start his career as a Cal Bear tomorrow night, Mahomes said he still keeps up with Webb and has sent him occasional congratulatory and good luck texts.