“Typical Tech”. “Here we go again”. “Undisciplined”. I’ve heard this all season from friends and fans. But, you know what? They’re right. Getting run over has become the norm. “Yup, there’s another turnover.” “Tell me about it, these guys are so undisciplined, I mean look at all these penalties!” These are the conversations that have been had in Lubbock the past 10 weeks.
It’s been a disappointing year. Coming off an impressive win 37-23 win over #21 Arizona State in last year’s Holiday Bowl, Texas Tech has underwhelmed fans and supporters this season. With just one victory over a Big XII opponent (Kansas) so far, the Red Raiders would need some sort of miracle to pull off an invite to the toilet bowl.
Although this season is one most Tech fans would want to never speak of ever again, I believe it marks a new era in Raiderland. 2013 was a “Typical Tech” year; go on a winning streak against lesser teams, give everyone false hope, then lose the last five and win a meaningless bowl game. But that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? At least Tech WON a bowl game. That counts for something, right? I don’t think so.
It was a trend that started in 2011, and a trend that was getting them nowhere. Then Kliff showed up last year and it seemed more of the same. But something in the first game of the 2014 season caught my eye. Tech looked bad. Not first game jitters bad, but actually bad. Tech beat Central Arkansas 42-35, but it was way too close of a game for playing an FCS school. The following week, UTEP ran all over Tech’s defense, and the prolific offense that fans were so used to seeing had disappeared. Tech was actually rushing the ball better than passing it. When was the last time anyone had seen that? Throughout the season we have seen more of the same. Struggles against the run, struggles in the passing game (mainly turnovers), and just plain ol’ bad coaching. Now, everything I’ve described so far seems pretty awful, but hear me out.
With Kliff Kingsbury, I believe there will be an end to “Typical Tech”. The team is not just a cookie cut out of the previous year. This year’s team is it’s own team and identity. Again, it’s a bad team, maybe one of the worst in Tech’s history. But, the mere fact that Tech looks different, even if it’s worse, says that Kliff is actually trying to change.
It was naïve to think that Tech had a chance at the Big XII title this year. But it was even more naïve to think that Coach could just walk into King’s Landing and take the Iron Throne. Tech fans should not have expected Kliff to magically turn Davis Webb into Case Keenum. And fans should not expect him to turn All-American QB, and Tech 2015 commit, Jarrett Stidham into Johnny Football. Honestly, fans should not expect him to do anything other than win. Winning will solve all. Kingsbury has at least three years to prove himself worthy of that massive contract extension he signed through 2020, worth $22.9 million. At just 35 years old, he has to learn how to be a head coach first, and a friend second. There’s a time and place to be cool and relatable. If Coach Kliff learns to pour his charm into recruiting and use his leadership on the sidelines, “The Jones” in Lubbock will be rocking for years to come.