Several things stand out about Kliff Kingsbury’s newly
finalized Texas Tech coaching staff. It is exceedingly young, it is
Texas-centric, it is schematically homogeneous on the offensive side and
schematically varied on defense.
Without factoring in Kingsbury himself, the Red Raider
approximately 36 years in age. Co-offensive coordinator Eric Morris is the tyke of the group at only 27 years old, while defensive
coordinator Matt Wallerstedt is the graybeard at age 46.
Only Wallerstedt, offensive line coach Lee Hays (45),
running backs coach Mike Jinks (40) and strength and conditioning coach Chad
Dennis (41?) are into their fourth decade.
All of these coaches, therefore, essentially belong to the
same generation. One may have concerns about the relative lack of experience,
but there can be no such worries about a generation gap within the staff
itself. These young men have similar football experiences and very much
understand today’s football players, the way the game is played today, and how
it will develop in the future.
On a couple of occasions Kingsbury has stated that he and
his staff will emphasize the state of Texas in their recruiting strategy, and
the coaches should be well positioned to do just that. Only defensive line
coach John Scott, Jr., who was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and spent his football
playing and coaching years in the Carolinas and Georgia, is not connected to
the Lone Star state. What’s more, the Red Raider staff has ties to all regions
of the state.
West Texas, obviously, is best represented in Kingsbury’s
staff. Aside from Kingsbury himself, who played at Texas Tech, Eric Morris, Sonny
Cumbie, Lee Hays, Mike Jinks, Mike Smith, Kevin Curtis,
and Trey Haverty, all have strong west Texas ties.
Morris (born in Littlefield), Cumbie
(born in Abilene), Hays (born in Del Rio) and Smith (born in San Angelo) are all
native west Texans. Jinks played his college football at Angelo State, Curtis
played at Tech and Lubbock Coronado, and Haverty
played at Tech.
The coach with the strongest ties to North Texas is Haverty who was born and raised in Richardson and has spent
the last several years on the coaching staff at TCU. East Texas is represented
by Kingsbury, Wallerstedt, Hays and Chad Dennis who
have various ties to Texas A&M and the University of Houston. The
connections to Central Texas are Kingsbury, a native of New Braunfels, and
Dennis, a graduate of the University of Texas. Jinks, virtually a lifelong
resident of greater San Antonio, provides Tech’s best inroad to South Texas.
The offensive staff, headed by Air Raid mastermind par
excellence, Kliff Kingsbury, has impeccable spread offense credentials. Aside
from Kingsbury, Morris and Cumbie are veterans of the
Mike Leach attack, while Cumbie also studied at Neal
Brown’s elbow the past three seasons. Lee Hays has worked almost exclusively in
spread offenses, and coordinated a few dandies in his days at West Texas
A&M. Only Mike Jinks, whose offenses at Cibolo Steele High were more
ground-oriented, is not extensively versed in wide-open gridiron aeronautics.
Defensively, the picture is much more opaque and uncertain.
Defensive coordinator Wallerstedt is an old 4-3 hand,
as is John Scott, Jr., while co-defensive coordinator Smith learned his defense
from 3-4 stalwart Rex Ryan with the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets. Smith
did, however, play in a 4-3 at Tech under Greg McMackin
and Lyle Setencich. The staff’s two secondary
coaches, however, have most recently worked in a 4-2-5 scheme. Kevin Curtis did
so under Tommy Spangler at Louisiana Tech, while Trey Haverty
did the same under Gary Patterson at TCU. The prediction here is that the 2013
Tech base will be a 4-3, but that it will be multiple with an assortment of
All in all, Kingsbury has assembled an energetic staff that
should be able to recruit the state of Texas from El Paso to Texarkana, and
Dalhart to Brownsville. Additionally, there can be little doubt that his group
of offensive coaches will keep the high-wire act Red Raider fans are accustomed
to, humming at peak, perhaps record-setting levels. The defensive side of the
table has an interesting and varied collection of minds and backgrounds. If all
are able to contribute choice ingredients, Texas Tech may finally enjoy a
defensive feast. But if those ingredients clash rather than coordinate,
stopping opponents could again be a problem.