FORT WORTH — Texas Tech will begin preseason football practices Saturday without a clear-cut starting quarterback.
But don’t expect the battle for the job to last too long.
New head coach Kliff Kingsbury told a group of media gathered at the annual Texas High School Coaches Association convention that he expects to have a starter named by the second Saturday scrimmage, much the same time frame Kingsbury settled on eventual Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel in his year as offensive coordinator at Texas A&M.
“I assume, unless someone takes off with it, it will be around the same time (at Tech),” Kingsbury said. “(Manziel) took off and ended up doing pretty well.”
The battle at Tech comes down to redshirt sophomore Michael Brewer from Lake Travis and true freshman Davis Webb from Prosper. Their battle for the starting job began in spring practice and will continue into the fall, and Kingsbury is hopeful to have a starter named about two weeks prior to the Red Raiders’ Aug. 30 season opener at SMU.
“Michael, obviously, never lost a game in high school, so first and foremost, he’s a winner,” Kingsbury said. “He can create plays when things aren’t there. He’s great at extending the play. Davis came in from day one ... and commanded everybody’s respect. He had a great skill set and a big-time NFL arm. He stepped in the huddle and you never saw fear in his eyes.
“Both guys we feel like we can win with and move the football with. It’s good to have two.”
Having gone through that exact same process both as a player at Tech and as a quarterbacks coach, Kingsbury hopes his unique perspective helps him make the right decision, and make it quickly.
“You definitely learn from your experiences,” Kingsbury said. “Last year (at A&M) we had two very capable quarterbacks and it’s hard to tell the one guy, ‘Hey, this other guy is going to be the starter.’ The more experience you have and are around situations like that, the better you become at handling them. Hopefully we will make the right choice and it will all work out at Texas Tech.”
Ready to go
Since his hiring in December, Kingsbury has traveled extensively, spreading the word to both recruits, players and alumni about what he and his staff anticipate happening at Texas Tech.
Now, it’s time to shut up and put up.
“I’m just tired of talking,” Kingsbury said. “I’ve spent eight months taking about our product and Texas Tech, and we really don’t know how it’s going to go. So we’re excited to get into the season and get things rolling.”
From the moment he took the job, Kingsbury has taken on a bit of a celebrity status, with some fans focusing on what the young, 33-year-old coach wears as much as what kind of coach he can be. He is the youngest coach in a BCS conference and the second-youngest in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
For Kingsbury, however, his challenge comes more in handling the off-the-field demands of the job while also trying to maintain the same standard he desires with his on-field involvement.
“The number one thing as we get into the heart of the season is time management,” Kingsbury said, “as involved as I want to stay in the offense, in play-calling and the game plan, and things of that nature, dealing with that and the administrative stuff during the season. The number one thing is finding time to be as good at both as I want to be.”
As far as the celebrity status he has achieved in Lubbock, the low-key Kingsbury is not fazed by the attention, though his next stop on Tuesday after meeting the media was to speak to the Texas coaches wives association.
“I just go with it,” Kingsbury said. “I think anytime I’m asked to do those things it’s good for Texas Tech. Publicity is always good. But I’m ready for it to be about the players. Once the season gets started and we have those guys step up and become household names in college football, that’s what it’s all about. I’m ready for it to be more about the players than what sunglasses I’m wearing.”
Honor among thieves
On Monday, University of Texas coach Mack Brown indicated he would begin turning in fellow coaches who he sees breaking NCAA recruiting rules, saying that the time has come to start cleaning up the game.
Kingsbury grinned when asked if he would do the same.
“It’s kind of ‘honor amongst thieves’ on some of that stuff, I think,” Kingsbury said. “Coach Brown, if he has an opinion on it and it’s what he wants to do, then he’s entitled to do that.”
Kingsbury said a big key to Tech’s ability to recruit right now is that many of the assistant coaches aren’t that far removed from their own playing days, giving them an insight into what recruits these days are thinking.
Kingsbury also wouldn’t bite when asked if he thought Tech’s predicted seventh-place finish in the Big 12 was too low or just right.
“I’m just excited to get the season started,” he said.
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