Photo By Steven Chapman

Choice Cuts: SFA Week

Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, linebacker Malik Jenkins and defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins (pictured above) spoke with local media following practice on Tuesday. Senior writer Joe Yeager, who was on-hand, breaks down what was discussed.

Kliff Kingsbury

"I think we're ready to go. We'll find out. You never know till the lights come on, but I like our energy, I like our attitude. I know we're ready to play somebody else. So we'll see how it goes."

My take: This was Kingsbury's response to whether the team is ready to go on Saturday. It is what you'd expect. Never heard a coach say his team wasn't ready, but also never heard one spout off overconfidently, either.

"A couple of days of camp got shortened up [because of the weather]. Took extended breaks during practice, but that's part of it. Nothing too major."

"We were probably 40 minutes in, then we took a 30 minute break [because of the weather], and then finished practice. But it's good practice. Sometimes during games you get delayed by lightning and then go back out and play. We're kind of spinning it that way."

My take: Both of those answers were in response to questions about the weather. Interesting that Kliff and staff have used the weather days as simulation for actual game delays that have seemingly become commonplace these days. Just goes to show how these coaches are always grinding their gears, trying to find an edge, and to make good use of inconveniences.

"Just the anxiety level. You know, you have closed live scrimmages, but now everybody's watching, there's a lot more energy, everybody's moving at a faster pace, there's more plays. So the anxiety level is the biggest thing the young guys have got to get accustomed to."

My take: Kingsbury's talking about the psychological part of the game in this answer. And sometimes collective psychology can be an equalizer. If one team is calmer and more poised than the other, it can provide a major advantage. Certainly, Tech will need to make certain that the butterflies don't throw them off stride, because honestly, that's about SFA's only real hope for pulling off a monumental upset.

"I feel good. The first week is always the most stressful for any coach because you just don't know what you've got until they get out there, but I've felt good about this team, the leadership, the way they've worked, so we'll see where we're at Saturday."

My take: When Kliff said, "I feel good," he did not do his best James Brown impersonation. FYI.

"The guy who's gonna fulfill that kind of Jakeem Grant role is Keke Coutee. He's stepped into that role, handled that, and we'll move him around. But he's been kind of that fifth wide receiver."

"He's got a really natural way of running routes and catching the football. Things come pretty easy to him. And so I think if we get the ball in his hands early he's got the chance to make a bunch of plays for us."

My take: I haven't seen anybody on the roster who really reminds me of Jakeem Grant, but then again I haven't seen a great deal of Coutee, so who knows? But we will certainly keep our eyes peeled for Coutee early in the game against SFA.

"Yeah they both can do different things. Cam's a smart guy, valedictorian of his school, a good leader for us, tough, physical in the run game, blocking, and then Keke can really fly, does everything really smoothly, so I think they balance each other. I see them getting about equal reps."

My take: Kliff is discussing the competition between Coutee and Cameron Batson at H receiver. And the equality that Kliff talks about between Coutee and Batson is mirrored across the entire receiving corps. The twos are every bit as good as the ones.

"They're a veteran group. Those two defensive ends will be a will be a real challenge for us, having our two young tackles. They change up coverages. They run multiple fronts and give you a bunch of different looks so for our first game, for some of our younger players, and our O-linemen I think it will be a good test."

My take: This was Kliff's take on SFA's defense. And certainly a veteran defense with good ends and that disguises their plays sounds like pretty much the ideal opponent for Tech's offense. Could SFA's strengths in those areas counter-balance Tech's superior offensive talent? No.

"Yeah I hope well. For those tackles this will be their first game in college, so you kind of hold onto your butt and hope it all goes well, but if they play like they've practiced they'll be just fine. So hopefully that translates to Saturday."

My take: This is Kliff talking abouty Terence Steele and Madison Akamnonu. I think as long as they're not confused by what SFA is doing--and SFA WILL try to confuse them--they will acquit themselves very well.

"I think he's getting there. He's got the toughness, he's got the attitude. I think he's still gotta get into game shape, which a bunch of us do, but I'm starting to see signs of that old, physical Justin Murphy coming back. So I think we're ready to go."

My take: Justin Murphy may be the single biggest key to Tech's ground game this season. Without Murphy, a Justin Stockton is perhaps an honorable mention All Big 12 player. With Murphy full-go, full-time, Stockton challenges strongly for first team honors.

Ondre Pipkins

"I think we're coming together. I think we're starting to make adjustments, limiting the small mistakes and moving in the right direction."

My take: Pipkins' words on the defensive line's readiness as the SFA game gets closer.

"It was at Ohio State in their stadium. That was my last time playing a game in a uniform, so yeah, I'm excited."

My take: If Pipkins could handle playing Ohio State in the Horseshoe, I think he'll be okay against SFA in the Jones. 

"Just for my family, pretty much. For my mother, my brothers, father, nieces and nephews, just overall family. Just to get out there and show them that everything that they've put me through, from a young age to now is gonna pay off, and I'm gonna continue to work until that is done."

My take: This was Pipkins' response to a question about what most motivates him this season. I was hoping he'd mention the name Harbaugh.

"I agree with it. But I've still got a long way to go so I will continue to work on my craft to get some more things in my game in order to be a more complete defensive lineman."

My take: This is Pipkins agreeing with Kingsbury about Pipkins having made a lot of progress. Good to know that we're seeing the same thing Kingsbury is in Pipkins.

Malik Jenkins

"He's grown up fast. He's grown up really fast to be able to start this Saturday. He's come a long way. He's gonna be a good player coming on this season, so I'm excited to see him play."

My take: Jenkins is talking about freshman starter Jordyn Brooks. And we're all excited to see Brooks play.

"I guess a lot. They're all fast learns. In our linebacker room it's all about accountability and the young guys are holding themselves pretty accountable and they're learning things, doing extra film time whenever they can, so I think that's a good thing. Me and D'Vonta [Hinton] are...we want to help and lead, but the young guys are also doing their part too and a lot of extra on the side, so it's always good to have players like that on the team."

My take: Here Jenkins was asked how much he and D'Vonta Hinton are being required to help get the freshman linebackers up to speed. Based upon his answer it appears that the freshmen are self-motivators who don't need much extra coaxing and coaching from the veterans.

"Just being relentless to the ball. Just everybody doing their own job. I don't feel like anybody out there is going to be selfish. We're all going to run to the ball and do our job. That's how you gotta play. There can't be one person doing their own thing; there have to be 11. I think if anything, we're gonna be out there, tackling is gonna be improved. I feel like we're gonna try and create more turnovers than we did last year. And like I said, we're just gonna run to the ball, be relentless."

My take: This was in response to what differences Tech fans can expect to see from the linebackers this season. And a lot of what he's saying sound like gang-tackling. For you younger subscribers, you may not remember what a true, gang-tackling Red Raider defense even looks like, but I do. And it would be a great thing to see once again. 

"Alignments are a big thing playing linebacker and I didn't realize it until the beginning of fall camp how important alignments can be and how one step can affect the whole play. Football's a game of inches and coach Spav [Spavital] has taught me a lot about that. I think the main mentality he emphasizes on is you are what you are on tape, and we just, we gotta go out there and do what we're trained, what we practice on, so I think that's one of the main things. And tackling. We have to be the most mature group out there because we're the leaders of the defense."

My take: This is Jenkins' response to a question about any schematic adjustments or innovations coach Spavital may have made in the defense. It sounds like there are no major changes, but we can see that there's a renewed emphasis on lining up correctly. If a player lines up correctly then he's already out of position and there's an immediate danger of a broken play. I suspect this happened quite often to last year's defense.

"I understand they're freshmen and everything but when it comes down to game-time and the Big 12 conference, every game you play in you're gonna have to do your time. Other teams are not gonna care what class you are. But the main thing I love is they run to the ball regardless of if they mess up. And you can't ask for more than that. If you mess up just run to the ball because you being there is a huge difference from one person being there compared to like 10 or 11 people being there, so if they just run to the ball and play and go then they're gonna be alright."

My take: Jenkins' response to the possibility of busted assignments from the freshmen linebackers. It sounds to me like the expectations are high and that being young will not be an excuse that feeds the bulldog.

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