Texas Tech’s game of defensive roulette continues in 2013. New head coach Kliff Kingsbury spun the
wheel and the ball stopped on the marker called Matt Wallerstedt. Thus the Red
Raiders will kick it off against SMU with their fifth defensive coordinator in
as many seasons. And if that’s not a college football record for defensive
discontinuity, it’s got to be darn close.
Anybody who claims to know for certain how Wallerstedt and
his troops will fair this season is, of course, belching black smoke. Every new
defensive coordinator in recent memory has brought high expectations with him,
but excepting the modest success of Ruffin McNeil and Art Kaufman, the results
have been woeful. Wallerstedt will have to buck history to turn Tech’s defense
into a top unit.
But although we cannot say with any certainty how well
Wallerstedt and company will do in 2013, we, with an assist from Kingsbury, can
at least say a few words about the general nature of Wallerstedt and the type
of defense he will attempt to bring to Jones Stadium.
To begin with, Kingsbury readily admits that adapting to yet
another coordinator and scheme is the biggest challenge facing his defense.
“I think that’s it,” says the head coach when asked about
the biggest hurdle confronting the defense.
“Each and every year they’ve been there they’ve had a new
guy come in, so now they’re learning a new system, believing in that guy, what
he’s bringing to the table, which last spring they all did. They bought in and
learned very quickly and I was pleased with their progress.”
Thus, Kingsbury is happy with the “buy in,” and the
assimilation of the system. It is a mantra you will hear often from him.
And Kingsbury, who may someday be known as the “intangibles
coach,” is also impressed with the overall leadership the defense has shown
“I think a lot of our leadership is on the defensive side of
the ball, and a lot of our strength,” says Kingsbury.
“And a lot of those guys did a great job leading our team in
the spring. I was really impressed with what they did.”
Moving from the abstract to the concrete, Kingsbury is
looking for the Red Raiders to generate more turnovers in 2013, and to play
with fire and spirit. And that fiery play should aid the defense in their plan
to purloin the pigskin.
“Hopefully we’ll take the ball a little bit more, that’s the
main thing,” says Kingsbury when ask about the defense’s identity.
“If we can take the ball over a little more, hopefully
double our turnovers from a year ago, that’ll help our cause. Coach Wally will
have ‘em fired up and excited. His schemes are fun
for the players, the things he does. So, excited to see how he does.”
And indeed, it will be how Wallerstedt does. Kingsbury has made it clear that he will give his
coaches tremendous latitude to run their units as they see fit (that’s part of
the Kevin Sumlin influence), and will not intervene
unless it is necessary.
“I hired Coach Wallerstedt and said, ‘hey, I want you to be
the defensive coordinator and coach the defense.’ Obviously I’ll have some
input on that if I see something that needs to be said, but he’s a guy I trust
and he’s done a great job.”
That job begins in earnest in less than three weeks.