When Texas Tech hired Kliff Kingsbury last week to be its head coach, Red Raiders quarterback Michael Brewer knew who to call for some insight. The night of the Kingsbury announcement, Brewer was on the phone to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Johnny Football’s message: You’re going to love this guy.
“I talked to Johnny for a long time the other night about coach Kingsbury,” Brewer said, “and he had nothing but great things to say about him. It just got me that much more fired up to be coached by him.”
Manziel and Brewer both are redshirt freshmen. Manziel won the Heisman Trophy, and Brewer is the favorite to take over next season for Tech senior Seth Doege.
The young quarterbacks have known each other since about junior-high age when they first crossed paths at football camps. Brewer and Austin Lake Travis beat Kerrville Tivy and Manziel 48-42 in an area-round playoff game two years ago — one of two losses Lake Travis hung on Tivy that season.
So Brewer called up Manziel on Wednesday night to learn about the Red Raiders’ new head coach who spent this season as A&M’s offensive coordinator.
“The main thing that sticks out in my mind when he was talking about him was how hard (Kingsbury) works,” Brewer said. “He said he’s the first one here in the office every day. No matter if it’s a bye week or they’re playing Oklahoma or Texas, doesn’t matter. He’s the first one here every day and the last one to leave.
“He’s a players’ coach. The players are going to love him. We’re going to play with a lot of confidence, and he’s going to get us ready each week.”
Manziel’s success is part of the reason Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt targeted Kingsbury. With Kingsbury as his position coach and coordinator this season, Manziel set a Southeastern Conference record with 4,600 yards total offense. He led the SEC in rushing with 1,181 yards and ranked second in the SEC in passing with 3,419 yards.
Kingsbury said last week he’ll adapt his offense to fit the strengths of the personnel. That’s part of the reason Manziel had so much latitude to run.
Brewer, who’s similar in size to Manziel, said what the Aggies did this year suits his style, too. He rushed for 593 yards and 23 touchdowns as a high-school junior, and added 743 rushing yards his senior year. But to say he has Manziel-level running ability would be a stretch.
“Johnny and I joked,” Brewer said. “I said, ‘You know, I’m fired up to have a coach that’s going to let me run the ball a little bit.’ Obviously, I can’t run it quite as good as he can. We both laughed about that.
“But I feel pretty confident in my ability to run the football. I’m not going to break any 80-yard touchdowns probably, but I feel like I’ve got a good burst. I feel confident in all my off-season work and preparation that I’ll be quick and my speed will be ready to go and I’ll be feeling good running the football.”
Tech (7-5) is preparing to play Minnesota (6-6) in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas on Dec. 28 in Houston.
Brewer played in eight games during the regular season, completing 70.2 percent of his passes for 362 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
During the four days Hocutt spent searching for Tommy Tuberville’s replacement, Brewer seemed to be in a no-lose situation. The top two candidates were Kingsbury and Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris. Morris was Brewer’s coach at Lake Travis during the Cavaliers’ 2008 and 2009 state-championship seasons.
“He really wanted his old coach to be here,” Tech tight end Jace Amaro said, “but with coach Kingsbury, me and (Brewer) both ultimately agreed that he really brought the fans together. I think that was the biggest part, because there has always been that divide. With coach Kingsbury back, this is going to be one of the toughest places to play in the nation.”
Before the team meeting Friday at which Kingsbury introduced himself to players, Brewer didn’t get to do much more than exchange pleasantries. There hasn’t been time yet for any in-depth discussions.
Brewer said he got some feel for Kingsbury’s offense based on a couple of A&M games and highlights he saw this fall.
“They do a lot of things similar to us,” he said, “but there are some things that are different. There’ll be some learning going on, but we’re really looking forward to playing in it.”
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