Photo By Steven Chapman

Choice Cuts: Louisiana Tech Week

Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins and safety Keenon Ward spoke with local media following practice on Tuesday. Senior writer Joe Yeager, who was on-hand, breaks down what was discussed.


[Paraphrase]: Today was one of our better practices. There was lots of energy.

[Paraphrase]: D'Vonta Hinton is 50/50 on being available for the Louisiana Tech game. We certainly hope to have him back within the next two weeks. We definitely missed having Hinton against Arizona State. It would have been nice to have a veteran linebacker back there who has seen it all. Instead, we had to play lots of young guys who were kind of just running around.

[On the Approach the Staff Has Taken in the Aftermath of the ASU Loss]: "I think basically focusing on us. Looking at the little things we have to get better at on Saturday. So it's been a lot of basic, fundamental things--technique, foot work, things of that nature that we have to get better at."

For better or worse, the focus on the self was one of Mike Leach's emphases. He was far more interested in his own team than he was in any opponent. He believed that if his team executed better than the opponent, his team would win. If Leach is generally correct in this belief, then Texas Tech made a ton of technical errors, particularly on defense, against Arizona State.

[On Louisiana Tech's Star Receiver, Trent Taylor]: "He plays like a maniac every play--full speed, full go, reminds me of the Amendola/Welker-type player. They give you everything they've got on every snap. Very precise routes. Very crisp. Knows how to find the soft spot in the zone. I'd like him to be in our offense as one of those players."

I've watched Trent Taylor some, and he's the real deal. I don't think Tech has a cornerback who can contain him, and expect to see double-teaming, or at least shading, to try to prevent him from running wild.

[On the Colin Kaepernick Controversy]: "I'll stay away from that. That doesn't happen out here. I'll just let everybody else talk about it."

Given Kingsbury's respect for the military and apparent patriotism, I think we can guess how he feels about Kaepernick's antics. Perhaps intelligently, though, he doesn't want to say anything controversial or inflammatory that could be used against him on the recruiting trail. Kingsbury is nothing if not extremely circumspect in what he says to the media.

[On Mych Thomas' Progress]: "It's been okay. He's doing okay. A little inconsistent. We'd like to work him into the rotation; it would help our depth. I've seen flashes, Coach Patrick has seen flashes, but not consistent enough to rely on him as much as we'd like right now."

A consistent Thomas and a contributing Joe Wallace would have done the defense some good against Arizona State, and the same can be said for the game with Louisiana Tech. Depth may be more important on the D-line more than any other position.

[On the Drop-off from the Starters to the Backups]: "At certain positions it's been okay, and at certain positions it hasn't been up to par. That's what we're striving for is to get the depth there that when a guy goes out we can plug somebody else in and keep it rolling. I don't think we're there yet, but hopefully by game five, six in the conference we'll have that."

It's fairly clear from Kingsbury's comments in this quote and about Mych Thomas, not to mention what we saw in Tempe, that depth is still a major issue for this program. The numbers are there at most positions, but the experience and/or the talent is not in many spots. Depth at offensive line, linebacker, and in the secondary is worrisome, and will continue to be a liability unless some of the newcomers grow up quickly.

[On Paul Banks' Status]: "Paul Banks will not be up this week. It's still week-to-week."

A pity. Tech's defense could really use him to help out on Trent Taylor. Somebody somewhere has really screwed the pooch with regards to Banks.

[On Zach Barnes' Status]: "That'll be a game-time decision. He was out there today getting some work, doing some walk-throughs so we'll see if he can go."

Barnes is another player who could certainly help. So far on this young season Gary Moore has been a disappointment.

[On the Primary Problem with the Defense against ASU]: "They hit some really big runs on, I think, eight plays that we were out of position or didn't make the tackle. They did a good job schematically, hit some wheel routes, hit the trick play. To me the biggest thing was not recovering from adversity, when we recovered the fumble, ran it back, it would have been 21 to nine and we never recovered from that. We let it get to us and didn't play very well for the rest of the game so to me, more than anything it's hey, bad things are gonna happen and we have to handle 'em better."

If Kingsbury's assessment is correct, it's pretty pathetic. Even after the fumble recovery was called back and ASU went down and scored, the game was still very much Tech's for the taking. It wasn't as if that play was a true dagger that destroyed Tech's chances of winning. One would certainly hope the Red Raiders are mentally tougher than that, particularly with the addition of tough guy Randy Whitt and the emphasis on toughness that Kingsbury has instituted.

[On How to Practice Being Tough]: "It's all the hard work you put in during the summer, everything that you develop with your boys going through hard two-a-days, training camp. Football's a game that's not perfect, bad things are going to happen and you've got to be mentally tough enough to get over it."

[On If the Lack of Mental Toughness Was Particularly Disappointing]: "That's what I thought. To me the air got kind of let out of our sideline on that side of the ball. Before that we had four or five stops, could have been up 21 to nine, could have handled that better but we didn't. We've got to learn from it and move on."

[On Wide Receiver Blocking]: "The blocking was great. Route techniques and the depth got a little sloppy there late. A few guys probably got a few too many snaps and that probably contributed to that, but effort on blocking was through the roof, so if that keeps up we'll have a chance."

This is not a huge surprise, I suppose, because offense, on the whole, wasn't the problem. You hang 55 points on a Power 5 team in their house chances are good the offense is executing and the receivers are blocking at a high level.

[On Michael Barden]: "We're gonna hang with him and see if he can get it turned around. We're working on a few things with his technique and he's being asked to directional punt a little bit more than he had been and so hopefully by the time we get to conference he'll have that thing rolling."

Barden's got the ability, but with kickers and punters sometimes, if they get into a slump it becomes a mental issue that is difficult to solve. Hopefully that doesn't become a problem for Barden. The sooner he has a good game, the better.


Ondre Pipkins

[On the ASU Game]: "We're just a couple of plays away from winning the game. Defensively we could do a better job of backing up our offense. We've just got to do a better job of being gap-sound. I know a couple of times I was out of my gap and they spring for 75 yards, so we've got to do a better job up front and that starts with myself. We just didn't get it done. They're a good football team, but we felt like we were the better team, just let one get away. You can't let that happen again."

Good to hear Pipkins man up and take his share of the blame for what happened in Tempe.

[On Today's Practice and Getting over the Loss]: "I think today was a bit chippy, and that's good to see. And I think we're fired up for this next game. We'll come out and take care of business."

A little more fire from the Red Raiders would certainly be a good thing. The Sun Devils seemed to be the more excited team when the two clubs met.

[On If the Excitement Is Due to Playing at Home]: "You can't look at it like that because you've got to be able to go on the road and give the same effort. The excitement comes from, hey, we've got another opportunity to show what we can do, and that's what we're excited about. And we're excited about Saturday. Louisiana Tech is a good football team and we're just gonna go out there and play hard and try to come out with the win."

Pipkins is certainly right about excitement not being place-specific. If you're flat on the road you'll never finish much above .500.

[On Louisiana Tech's Young Quarterbacks]: "You've got to get to them early, frustrate them, get to 'em early and be disruptive."

[On the Pass Rush]: "We have to get better on that. Of course, I've gotta get better. It's not nothing with the coaches. It's up to us. We have to do a better job of also backing up our coaching. You know what I mean? So we're gonna take care of that, we're gonna make some adjustments, and we'll get that corrected."

[On "Snowballing"]: "You've just got to weather the storm, control the controllables, and do your job. There was a little bit of frustration on the sideline, but we've got to control that. You can't get frustrated on the first big play they do cause they feed off of that. You've got to do a better job emotionally."

The candor about a frustrated sideline is appreciated. It's only human nature that frustration sets in when a team or unit is enduring a bad night, but it's refreshing to hear a player acknowledge the obvious truth. It almost sounds like immaturity is as much an issue as a lack of mental toughness.

[On Practicing Maintaining Composure]: "When you have a bad play the coach may jump on you. And you've got to stay level. You can't get down on yourself, and when you make a big play you can't get too hype cause you could get a bad play, then it's up and down. You've got to stay consistent."


Keenon Ward:

[On Louisiana Tech]: "They're a great team, they've got a lot of good skill. One of their receivers has 100 catches the last two years, so he's real good. Quarterbacks are talented but they're young, so if we can take advantage just reading off of the young quarterbacks we'll be fine."

[On Exposing the Young Quarterbacks]: "Just give 'em different looks. Me and Jah'Shawn have already worked on showing different disguises. Just moving around, making it harder on him to make a good, clean read."

[On Putting ASU behind]: "Absolutely. What happened happened. We just need to move forward, have a good practice, have a good week, and I feel like we got that going today, had a good start so yeah, what happened last Saturday, that's in the past and all we can do is focus on getting better."

[On Much Do They Use ASU as Motivation]: "We hear the noise; we know what people are saying about us, but we try to ignore it...same old this, same old Texas Tech, but we've put in the work and we're confident in ourselves, and we've just got to show it on Saturdays."

[On What Coach Gibbs Said after the ASU Loss]: "He just said, we've got to get back to work, and it's about us, it's not about anybody else. He believes in us, we believe in our team, and I wouldn't want to be with another defense. Like I said, if we can just believe in each other we'll be fine."

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