Saturday’s win over Iowa State pushed the Red Raiders to 6-0 on the year, earned them bowl eligibility and a share of first place in the Big 12 title race. There’s palpable buzz around Lubbock about this football team right now, thanks in part to some great coaching.
Kliff Kingsbury is the first head coach in Texas Tech football history to win his first six games. His Red Raiders rank 14th in the country in points for (41.8 per game) and 15th in points against (17.3 per game). Picked to finish as low as 9th in the Big 12, Tech entered the AP Top 25 after a home win against then-ranked TCU, and climbed to 15th in this week’s USA Today Coach’s Poll.
All those accolades aren’t very common for first-year head coaches and could prove distracting for a guy as young as Kingsbury. But the 34-year-old, just over a decade removed from his own playing days at Tech, is only worried about getting better.
“It is what it is,” Kingsbury said after Tech’s win on Saturday. “We just attack each week and try to get better. So we got better this week and get to do it again next week.”
That kind of competitive, never-satisfied attitude infects teams and players, and it certainly seems to be something guys like senior outside linebacker Terrance Bullitt buy into with this new coaching staff. On his personal blog, Bullitt talks about the team’s mentality heading into the Iowa State game.
“In a conference as tough as the Big 12, the team with the least mistakes will usually come out on top,” Bullitt wrote. “Therefore, with the short amount of time allowed during the week, we have to seize every opportunity to perfect our craft in all three phases of the game. No matter how good you think you are doing, there is always room for improvement.”
Iowa State reminded Bullitt and his teammates on Saturday how difficult winning is in the Big 12. After scoring early on a 95-yard kickoff return, the Cyclones refused to go away and never trailed by more than 14 points in the eventual 42-35 Red Raider win. Both teams traded touchdowns until less than two minutes remained in the fourth quarter.
Next up for Tech is hot-and-cold West Virginia, who started Big 12 play with a close loss to Oklahoma and an ugly home win against Oklahoma State. Since then, the Mountaineers lost to Baylor in Waco 73-42, and it wasn’t even that close. Still, the ‘Eers are 3-0 at home this season and playing much better defense than a year ago when the Red Raiders torched then-No. 5 West Virginia and Heisman candidate Geno Smith 49-14 in Lubbock.
This is Texas Tech’s first test of several on a back loaded schedule, ending in two consecutive road games against Baylor and Texas, the current league favorites. The Red Raiders may already have a postseason spot secured, but don’t expect bowl eligibility to be enough for Kingsbury.
“We don’t worry about that. Like I said, it’s just on to the next week,” Kingsbury said. “Just each week get better and see how it shakes out in the end.”