Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury confirmed on Tuesday that backup offensive lineman Cody Wheeler is no longer on the team. Kingsbury declined to comment on the reason for Wheeler’s departure.
Later Tuesday, a post on Wheeler's Twitter page said he’s giving up football because of concussions.
“Due to repeated concussions throughout my football playing career,” Wheeler wrote, “I have decided that it is best for my personal health that I retire from the game that I have loved ever since I was a kid.”
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Patrick Mahomes II spent the offseason harping on two areas in which Mahomes needed to improve: fewer interceptions and a higher completion percentage.
The number in the first column last season was 15, in the other 63.5.
Through three games this season, the junior from Whitehouse has two interceptions and a 71.2 percent completion rate.
Kingsbury was asked Monday if the emphasis was paying off.
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday he expects starting offensive tackle Terence Steele and defensive end Zach Barnes to play in Thursday’s game against Kansas. Steele came out of the last game against Louisiana Tech with an ankle injury, and Barnes missed the last two games with a knee injury.
Kingsbury said both practiced last week, when the Red Raiders had an open date. Last week, Kingsbury said starting cornerback D.J. Polite-Bray also will return from the shoulder injury that prompted his exit for most of the game against Louisiana Tech.
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury says he likes Les Miles and thinks Miles is “a phenomenal coach,” but he understands the culture of college football. So he’s realistic about LSU’s decision to fire its 12th-year head coach on Sunday.
“I’m sure he’ll land on his feet very soon,” Kingsbury said at Tech’s weekly Monday press conference. “I thought he did a great job there, but you know what you’re getting yourself into, and nobody is going to feel sorry for somebody making five millions dollars a year, and it’s part of the profession.”
With Texas Tech having an open date Saturday, the Red Raiders are practicing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning. The latter will be the equivalent of a Monday game-week practice to start preparation for Tech’s Sept. 29 home game against Kansas. Players will be off Wednesday for schoolwork and rest and again Friday while coaches scatter to recruit. ... Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said Tuesday it’s too early to tell whether starting OT Terence Steele (left ankle) will return for the Kansas game.
Da’Leon Ward’s path to playing time at running back appears blocked in the short term, but Texas Tech coaches decided to use the true freshman for what he can bring to special teams.
The Dallas Skyline product tackled a Louisiana Tech kickoff returner at the Bulldogs’ 19-yard line Saturday.
Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said Tuesday he thinks Ward’s getting into the fray will help his development, even if his role doesn’t expand this season.
Freshman flanker T.J. Vasher made a good impression in preseaon practice and played in the season opener, but might have fallen from favor.
Responding Tuesday to a question about the 6-foot-5 wide receiver from Wichita Falls Rider, Kliff Kingsbury said, “He’s got to grow up off the field. His approach isn’t where it needs to be, or anywhere close. Physically, he’s very gifted, but he’s got to grow up.”
Kingsbury said an ankle injury that bothered Vasher early in the season isn’t an issue.
“He’s fully healthy,” Kingsbury said. “He’s just got to mature.”
Texas Tech has used 11 true freshmen this season, and that’ll be it, coach Kliff Kingsbury said Tuesday, unless injuries dictate otherwise.
That means the Red Raiders will try, from here on out, to redshirt five of the six high-school defensive linemen they signed for 2016. From that group, only defensive tackle Joe Wallace from Dallas Skyline has played.
Texas Tech inside receiver Jonathan Giles said the team spent two weeks practicing the trick play on which he caught a 42-yard touchdown pass Saturday in a 59-45 win over Louisiana Tech. He said the Red Raiders could’ve used it the week before against Arizona State, but Kliff Kingsbury didn’t break it out.
The play started with Giles going in motion, taking a handoff from Patrick Mahomes II, pitching to inside receiver Cameron Batson and continuing toward the left sideline. Mahomes then flipped a pass to Giles just outside the numbers, and he cut upfield and outran the pursuit.
Wide receiver Derrick Willies played 62 of Texas Tech’s 79 offensive snaps Saturday. Willies said Monday he didn’t have a problem handling the workload, easily the most he’s played in three games.
“In practice, you get your body ready for it,” he said. “The game’s a lot easier if you go hard in practice.”