All the King's Men

With the finalization of Kingsbury's coaching staff last week, Joe Yeager weighs in on the new-look staff which include some very young coaches.

Several things stand out about Kliff Kingsbury's newly finalized Texas Tech coaching staff. It is exceedingly young, it is Texas-centric, it is schematically homogeneous on the offensive side and schematically varied on defense.


Without factoring in Kingsbury himself, the Red Raider coaches average  approximately 36 years in age. Co-offensive coordinator Eric Morris is the tyke of the group at only 27 years old, while defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt is the graybeard at age 46. Only Wallerstedt, offensive line coach Lee Hays (45), running backs coach Mike Jinks (40) and strength and conditioning coach Chad Dennis (41?) are into their fourth decade.


All of these coaches, therefore, essentially belong to the same generation. One may have concerns about the relative lack of experience, but there can be no such worries about a generation gap within the staff itself. These young men have similar football experiences and very much understand today's football players, the way the game is played today, and how it will develop in the future.


On a couple of occasions Kingsbury has stated that he and his staff will emphasize the state of Texas in their recruiting strategy, and the coaches should be well positioned to do just that. Only defensive line coach John Scott, Jr., who was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and spent his football playing and coaching years in the Carolinas and Georgia, is not connected to the Lone Star state. What's more, the Red Raider staff has ties to all regions of the state.


West Texas, obviously, is best represented in Kingsbury's staff. Aside from Kingsbury himself, who played at Texas Tech, Eric Morris, Sonny Cumbie, Lee Hays, Mike Jinks, Mike Smith, Kevin Curtis, and Trey Haverty, all have strong west Texas ties.


Morris (born in Littlefield), Cumbie (born in Abilene), Hays (born in Del Rio) and Smith (born in San Angelo) are all native west Texans. Jinks played his college football at Angelo State, Curtis played at Tech and Lubbock Coronado, and Haverty played at Tech.


The coach with the strongest ties to North Texas is Haverty who was born and raised in Richardson and has spent the last several years on the coaching staff at TCU. East Texas is represented by Kingsbury, Wallerstedt, Hays and Chad Dennis who have various ties to Texas A&M and the University of Houston. The connections to Central Texas are Kingsbury, a native of New Braunfels, and Dennis, a graduate of the University of Texas. Jinks, virtually a lifelong resident of greater San Antonio, provides Tech's best inroad to South Texas.


The offensive staff, headed by Air Raid mastermind par excellence, Kliff Kingsbury, has impeccable spread offense credentials. Aside from Kingsbury, Morris and Cumbie are veterans of the Mike Leach attack, while Cumbie also studied at Neal Brown's elbow the past three seasons. Lee Hays has worked almost exclusively in spread offenses, and coordinated a few dandies in his days at West Texas A&M. Only Mike Jinks, whose offenses at Cibolo Steele High were more ground-oriented, is not extensively versed in wide-open gridiron aeronautics.


Defensively, the picture is much more opaque and uncertain. Defensive coordinator Wallerstedt is an old 4-3 hand, as is John Scott, Jr., while co-defensive coordinator Smith learned his defense from 3-4 stalwart Rex Ryan with the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets. Smith did, however, play in a 4-3 at Tech under Greg McMackin and Lyle Setencich. The staff's two secondary coaches, however, have most recently worked in a 4-2-5 scheme. Kevin Curtis did so under Tommy Spangler at Louisiana Tech, while Trey Haverty did the same under Gary Patterson at TCU. The prediction here is that the 2013 Tech base will be a 4-3, but that it will be multiple with an assortment of different looks.


All in all, Kingsbury has assembled an energetic staff that should be able to recruit the state of Texas from El Paso to Texarkana, and Dalhart to Brownsville. Additionally, there can be little doubt that his group of offensive coaches will keep the high-wire act Red Raider fans are accustomed to, humming at peak, perhaps record-setting levels. The defensive side of the table has an interesting and varied collection of minds and backgrounds. If all are able to contribute choice ingredients, Texas Tech may finally enjoy a defensive feast. But if those ingredients clash rather than coordinate, stopping opponents could again be a problem.

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