Photo By Steven Chapman

Choice Cuts: Bye Week

Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury spoke with local media following practice on Tuesday. Senior writer Joe Yeager, who was on-hand, breaks down what was discussed.

On Practice So Far This Week: "Good. We know we have a long way to go, so we've decided to work together as a staff, as a team to get better. The bye fell at a great time, at the start of conference, where last year it was at the end of the season so we can get healthy, work on fundamentals and little things and try to be the best team we can when we open up conference play."

My take: I should have asked a follow-up question because it almost sounds to me like the team may have had a special "come to Jesus" meeting between now and the Louisiana Tech game. I believe there's a sense of urgency with this team, and even a bit of fear that they're not as good as they thought they'd be, and they may be willing to take extraordinary measures--such as special meetings--to try to compress temporally improvements that usually take a long time.

On the Bye Week as a Time to Recharge the Batteries: "Absolutely. Without question. Idle time sometimes is the thing that worries coaches the most. We'll give 'em tomorrow off to focus on school, take care of their bodies, come back Thursday and have a good practice, take Friday off and go recruit Friday, so it's a good schedule for us to get refreshed but still keep us in line."

My take: Apparently during bye weeks--and during the idle hours between the last regular season game and the bowl game--coaches really dread that phone call in the middle of the night. Coaching college football these days requires being a police man and a lawyer as well as knowing the game and how to coach it. It's a part of their job that I don't envy.

On Paul Stawarz's Play against Louisiana Tech: "Not bad. Some good, some bad. I liked his energy. I liked the look in his eye. He was having fun, he was talkative, he was into it and communicating positively. I didn't know how he'd react getting thrust in there, but I thought mentally he handled it well. There are some things physically that we've got to clean up."

My take: Based upon early returns, there can be no doubt that Kingsbury is getting more good from Stawarz than any of us on the outside thought he would. He was one of those late-addition recruits that most people kind of write off as fillers, but Stawarz appears to be much more than that. He'll start plenty of games before his days at Tech are done.

On the Positivity of the Offensive Line Handling the Loss of Terence Steele against Louisiana Tech: "I think so. There was no worry. Nobody blinked. We kept moving the ball no matter who was in there and that's encouraging. We'll have to get better as the competition gets a bit stiffer in the conference but I thought all those guys slid in there and attacked at their opportunity."

My take: In diametrical opposition to the defense, it seems that Texas Tech's offense as a whole is a bed of roses. No matter what happens, who graduates, who gets hurt or suspended, the offense continues to smell good. The offensive line succeeding without Steele is just the latest example, although personally I will feel much more comfortable about Pat Mahomes' blind side once Steele returns."

On Terence Steele's Health: "He's still day-to-day. He's been doing a little stuff in the pool, but I'm not sure when exactly he'll be back."

On Paul Banks Returning: "Not yet, not yet, but I would say in the next couple of weeks hopefully. That's my plan. I would say within the next couple of games we hopefully should have him back."

My take: There's something really strange about the whole Banks disappearance. Whenever anybody asks Kingsbury about this situation he laughs a chuckle that seems to be two parts bemusement and one part exasperation. Almost as though he wishes he could tell us the whole story, but knows he cannot.

On the Nature of the Defense's Work in Practice Heading into Kansas: "Yeah, I think we've just got to be consistent throughout the game. I thought there were times they played very well, dominated, and we got out to a 35-10 lead, but you can't allow that touchdown late in the half, and you can't do that early in the second half where they have two touchdowns in like 35 seconds. Consistency more than anything. You can't have high highs and low lows."

My take: When the Tech defense has a low low, it's a reeeeeally low low. Death Valley low. And then once the doldrums set in, matters only get worse and worse. It's really a puzzle. Is it coaching? Is it a lack of depth? Both? Guys like Kingsbury and David Gibbs get paid insane amounts of money to solve problems such as these.

On What Kliff Wants to See from the Defense the Next Few Practices: "I want them to have that same mindset from snap one to snap 30, or however many reps they get. Have consistent play, don't let anything out, don't give up anything easy."

On the Team's Frame of Mind Right Now: "Really Good. They feel like they haven't played their best game. Arizona State on the road, didn't play very well, came home played great for almost a half, and then kind of just messed around the second half. But haven't put a complete game together, so that's encouraging."

On D'Vonta Hinton's Play against Louisiana Tech: "He played okay. He's just gotta keep comin'. He's gotta be a solid player for us. He's an experienced linebacker. As those young freshmen grow up he's gotta be kind of the guy, so hopefully he can embrace that."

On T.J. Vasher: "We'll see. He's gotta grow up off the field, because his approach isn't where it needs to be or anywhere close. Physically, he's very gifted, but he's gotta grow up."

My take: Unless something changes dramatically and Vasher sees the field quite a bit for the rest of the season, it looks like he should have been red-shirted. Sometimes the desire, or the need to win immediately can cloud judgment.

Are There Any Other True Freshmen Who Haven't Yet Played But Could? "I think unless something happens with the D-line...we're tryin' to redshirt those D-line bodies and a few of those O-line bodies, so unless something drastic happens I think the guys that have played are the guys that will play."

On the Decision to Play Da'Leon Ward: "He is [good on special teams]. His role will be good to go ahead and get him playing time and it will help him next spring--he's already played eight games--make him more comfortable as a player. And hopefully we can get him some touches."

On Corey Dauphine: "We'll see. I mean those other three are playing at a high level so we would like to use him at times because he is so dynamic with the football in his hands, but he's still got to be able to protect when number five's back there."

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