Texas Tech football makes shrewd offensive line coach hire

Thursday, the Texas Tech football team made a shrewd hire by bringing Clay McGuire back home to coach the Red Raider offensive line.

Oct 29, 2022; Lubbock, Texas, USA;  A general view of a Texas Tech Red Raiders helmet on the field
Oct 29, 2022; Lubbock, Texas, USA; A general view of a Texas Tech Red Raiders helmet on the field / Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Don't tell Clay McGuire that you can't go home again. A native of Crane, Texas, and a Texas Tech alum who played football for the Red Raiders under Mike Leach, McGuire was announced on Thursday as the new offensive line coach on Joey McGuire's (no relation) staff. It marks the third time McGuire has coached at Texas Tech.

This is a shrewd hire for the Red Raiders who have been looking for a replacement for Stephen Hamby, who spent the last two years as Texas Tech's o-line coach before departing the program earlier this month.

McGuire should be an upgrade for Texas Tech

A player at Tech from 2000-04 as an H-back, he then was an intern, graduate assistant, and assistant coach in Lubbock from 2006-09 on Mike Leach's staff. Then, after the ugly divorce between Leach and Tech in 2009, McGuire would follow former Texas Tech defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeil to East Carolina where he would coach running backs from 2010-11.

After that, he wound up back on Leach's staff in 2012 coaching the offensive line there through the 2017 season. In 2018 he came back to the Hub City to be the co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach under Kilff Kingsbury.

However, that gig was short-lived as Kingsbury was fired after that season. Thus, McGuire found work at Texas State as the O-line coach for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. After that, he coached the USC O-line in 2021, and then he returned to Washington State to coach the O-line from 2022-23.

In 2022, one of McGuire's linemen, Jarrett Kingston, earned honorable-mention All-PAC-12 recognition and in 2021, his USC offensive line gave up the third-fewest sacks in the conference. However, this past season, Washington State took a step backward by finishing 9th in the PAC-12 in sacks allowed at over three per game. Part of that bloated sack number, though, was due to the fact that WSU was third in the nation in pass attempts per game at 43.

What makes one believe that McGuire will be an upgrade over Hamby is simply that he has more experience at the major conference level. Prior to coming to Tech in 2022, the only places Hamby had coached were Tech (2013-15), Bowling Green (2016-18), and Western Kentucky (2021).

What's more, McGuire has seven more years of experience as an assistant coach and he's worked under highly respected offensive coaches such as Kingsbury, Leach, and current USC head coach Lincoln Riley.

Last season, Texas Tech's offensive line was below average as a pass-protection unit. Tech was good at running the football but did struggle when facing elite defensive fronts such as Texas in the regular-season finale when Tech managed only 198 total yards and gave up five tackles for loss and two sacks.

To help fix that problem, Tech is not only banking on a new offensive line coach but a host of new players as well. The team brought in three offensive line transfers and a top JUCO signee and all are expected to compete for playing time immediately.

In fact, only one member of last season's starting offensive line, Caleb Rogers, will return in 2024. What's more, he's going to be moved to center from right tackle meaning there will be no returnees in the same position that they played a year ago.

Under Joey McGuire's watch, the offensive line has been Texas Tech's biggest area of struggle. Years of poor recruiting at that position group under both the Kingsbury and Matt Wells coaching staffs left the cupboard nearly bare when McGuire arrived.

Thus, the struggles Tech has endured up front can't all be placed on Hamby. However, there was a need for change in the leadership of the line and that's what Tech believes will help that group take a step forward. Clay McGuire is a shrewd hire given his major-conference experience and he should help elevate the performance of the O-line at Tech. Here's hoping that his third stint in Lubbock proves to be his best yet.