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The Mailbag OT

The Raider Power staff answers questions from subscribers about Texas Tech football, basketball and recruiting which did not make the video version.

TTUams: How involved do you think Kliff will be with the defense during games? Will he be helping them make adjustments during half time or in game?

Alyssa: I think he will be more involved during practices and throughout the week but during the games he will still be primarily focused on the offense. He might help with half time adjustments but I still think it will be mainly up to Gibbs. 

Jarret: Very little, honestly. This is the type of thing that sounds good to pacify folks during the offseason (remember Hocutt also said the program was done going the JUCO route....). When the team is in the pressure cooker I expect Kingsbury to handle the offense and for Gibbs to call the defense. I actually asked Kingsbury about how his day-to-day functions will change in the press conference last week and here is what he said:

“We are still working through that. Just spending more time with the overall team and not as much in just the offensive staff room. Not that I’m an expertise on defense, but just being over there and spending time there and sharing thoughts I have. Just delegating a bit more to the offensive staff.”

They STILL don't have a plan... they will revert to what they know which is for Kingsbury to handle the offense and for Gibbs to handle the defense. I'm fine with that. 

Joe:  Next season is do or die for Kingsbury. And desperate times call for desperate measures. Therefore, I expect Kingsbury to pull out all of the stops in an effort to maintain his position and advance his career. This will almost certainly include more direct involvement in the defense if that side of the ball struggles mightily as it has in the past. And the nature of that involvement could well include in-game adjustments and influence on defensive play-calling.

RidnFearless: Football Offense: If you agree with my premise that making adjustments on the offensive side of the ball was a significant problem, what , if anything, has been done to help?

Jarret: A lack of offensive adjustments were a MAJOR problem last season. Look at UT, Kansas State, West Virginia, Iowa State... Even Kingsbury admitted to me in a Monday presser that yes they made adjustments at halftime against UT, and they simply weren't executed properly. So whether it was an X's and O's thing or if the players simply didn't execute there were major problems adjusting on the fly last season which proved costly because the defense was historically bad. The offense, which overall was absolutely fantastic, had almost no room for error. The best case of Tech adjusting last season was the game-tying drive where they ran the ball something like 9 of a 12-play drive against TCU's 3-man front. Tech of course went on to win in OT in Fort Worth in one of the most impressive performances all-around by Tech in Kingsbury's tenure. 

Zach: I don't agree. Now, there's no denying Tech's 2nd-half offense was less effective than its 1st-half offense, but I think this was more a problem with the poor run execution by the offensive line and Pat's injuries catching up to him as his throw count got high. As teams saw how ineffective the run was, they shifted early out of their base personnel from the 4-3 or 3-3-5 we usually see in this conference to dime or quarter. Even with three down linemen, teams were able to apply pressure against Tech's young front and generally keep the run from doing too much damage as your young backs couldn't break arm tackles. As a result, Pat had to throw more and the injuries took their toll. 

This should be much less of a problem next year. Tech is perhaps deeper than it's ever been at offensive line with some battle-tested young players learning under one of the country's best Air Raid OL coaches. They're still young, but they should improve and with Nisby and an experienced Ward back there Tech should return to doing significant damage on the ground.

Football Defense: What, in your opinion, is the most significant problem on defense (sorry, your answer can't be not enough 5 star players) and has anything been done to help?

Jarret: Where do I begin? The constant turnover at defensive coordinator would be laughable if it wasn't so depressing. This has led to a major talent drain and constant turnover on the roster where the Red Raiders have habitually fielded small, slow, inexperienced defenses. 

Zach: Inexperience. Last year, you had two first-year players at linebacker that were consistently struggling to hit run fits and as a result Ballage and others killed you. DBs such as Polite-Bray and Kisean Allen were getting significant playing time and struggled to wrap up, so receivers were killing you with YAC. I think Tech did quite a bit to help this including getting a leading tackler back and adding older players from the transfer and JUCO ranks. 

TechTier1: IPF. Is the juice worth the squeeze? Is Tech turning any recruits (now that other schools cannot play the "no IPF card")? 

Alyssa: I think it is a nice addition and will help with recruiting but it won't completely flip any recruits. 

Jarret: Yes, but please remember the Sports Performance Center is more than just an IPF. There will also be a new weight room, nutrition center and indoor track in there. Those details that we may take for granted are actually major selling points. For example, McLane Carter was really impressed with these designs in part because of the new nutrition center and the nutrition program in general. Overall, this doesn't put Tech over the top, but where the program was before in terms of facilities was really, really bad, to be honest. This is definitely a huge step in the right direction and the construction going on looks awesome. I am really excited to be here during the construction of and eventually the completion of, such an impressive structure.

Zach: Definitely. I know recruits have mentioned it when they took visits this past season. Not sure that it's changing any minds yet - wins will do that - but it's definitely important to keep up with the Joneses. 

JJMatador: The top 5 Texas high school recruits are set to sign outside the state of Texas. What do y'all think the problem is with keeping recruits in Texas?

Jarret: The Big 12 has dropped in terms of prestige with the losses of quality programs such as Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and yes even A&M. This conference just isn't what it was unfortunately and recruiting is an unflinchingly honest answer to where a program and conference stand in the college football world. The truth is, and I have been saying this for at least 3-4 years, is that the talent level is way down in the Big 12, it's getting worse and I'm afraid it will eventually resemble the SWC in its latter years.

Zach: I think a big, understated problem is the small size and diminished reputation of the conference. Like it or not, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Missouri, and even to some extent Colorado are big brands who put a lot of butts in seats. They've been replaced with a small private school and another school that may have a decent reputation but is so far away that it doesn't bring a lot of excitement when you play them. 

The small size of the conference has reinforced a pecking order. Beat OU and it's a huge deal. Lose to Kansas or Iowa State and your head coach needs to be fired or else those two programs will overtake you. And guess what, the teams like OU still get their recruits but for teams like Tech and Oklahoma State there's no TAMU/Nebraska games on the schedule every year to pitch to recruits. Just the same old 9 programs that mostly run a variation of the same offensive and defensive systems. It can be fun to watch on the field, but the conference brand was definitely hurt by replacing TAMU/Nebraska/Mizzou/Colorado with TCU and West Virginia. Recruiting is only going to get worse as this small, pathetic conference continues to eat itself and not come up with a Playoff contender. It's a vicious cycle, and it sucks. Rant over.

TechTier1: After watching and interviewing all the coaches and players on NSD, were there any unknowns revealed about the strategy of putting this class together?

Jarret: The only thing I was surprised to hear was that the early enrollees were more by chance than Tech actively looking for guys who would qualify early. That was something I was crediting the staff for rather than them just lucking into the way Kingsbury portrayed in the presser last week. In fact he called the process tedious:

“We had three highly sought after offensive linemen who really wanted to do that with that set up and our coaches and their families did a great job of supporting them and making sure they had all their credits set up and their hours checked out. It was more-so a pretty tedious process than anything else.”

Zach: I was kind of surprised to hear the reason you had lost out on guys like Lenzy Pipkins (ULM -> OkSt DB grad transfer) and Marshall Taylor (MiaOH -> Auburn DB grad transfer) because you didn't have a spot. Both of those guys started for their respective teams this season and would have started on your team. I'm glad they're saving a couple for grad transfers moving forward, those were huge missed opportunities.

EastTXRR: Do you think the staff should loosely target a certain number of players at each position every year? Like 1 QB, 4 OL, 3 DL, 3 DB etc.? It seems like KK makes it a point to get a QB every class, regardless of need, but it seems like they recruit other positions based on need. Should they be more proactive instead of waiting for a position to become an area of need to decide to recruit that position group heavily? That seems to be one of the biggest problems since Tuberville left. 

Jarret: This is where Tuberville hurt Kingsbury the most coming in. He has been behind the 8-ball so to speak, putting out one roster position fire at the expense of another and then the 2014 class has been a real problem they have struggled to overcome. If they can somehow put together a good season and survive next season I like what Gibbs is doing in terms of recruiting on the defensive side of the ball and maybe 2018 can be that class to lead to the type of success we have all been dreaming about. To answer your question, though I think the idea of taking zero defensive tackles in the class is even more questionable than taking just two OL in 2014.

Zach: I think what you've seen is the staff attempting to rebalance the roster to what it should be. I don't think they're done yet, either. But I think it's absolutely asinine to take a guy at a given position just to have them - the "we need x DL every year" crowd just doesn't get it. Take the best players available that fill needs and fit your system every year and that's the key to building a championship roster. Scholarship limits mean it's very hard to be proactive without hurting parts of your roster and sometimes being shrewd with kids. 

jaywill2011: Looks like the 2018 class has lots of talent at positions of need for us, especially in state of TX. Just thinking human psychology, do you feel like the coaching staff will bust it on the recruiting trail or spend as much time working with the current team and saving their butts?

Jarret: There is no mistaking the program is at a crossroads. The most important thing this staff can do to help on the recruiting trail is to win early and then win big next season. That doesn't mean they can just ignore the normal schedule of recruiting such as satellite camps and hosting visitors this spring and summer. All that being said the uncertainty surrounding whether or not Kingsbury will be back in 2018 is something as a parent would be the first thing I would ask about. The truth is Kingsbury won't have an answer to those questions until next season. 

Zach: They will kill it on the recruiting trail and they will also save their butts - there's no one or the other because they will not change the amount of time they have preparing for practice, games, etc. During the season, this staff gets in the office around 4-5AM every single day to watch recruit film for a couple hours and write letters to recruits. They are relentless recruiters. As to the team's prowess - I think Kliff has the right coaching staff in place and enough talent on the roster to save his job, and they won't sacrifice recruiting time or do anything drastically different from a time allocation perspective to prepare this season.

Techfreak: Now that the Nation Signing Day is over...what is Tech's chance (%) you think we will get 7 wins next year in Football?

Jarret: 20%.

Joe: I've gone on record showing the very modest impact JUCO football recruits have had on Tech football, a lack of impact that has been most striking during Kingsbury's tenure. That being the case I do not expect the incoming JUCOs, who are the backbone of this class, to provide salvation. What Tech accomplishes in 2017, it will accomplish primarily with returnees, not new recruits. As to a percentage chance of winning seven regular-season games, I put it at 35. 

Zach: 75%. That number may go up a bit depending on what they do with these 2-3 last spots.

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