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BRISTOL, Conn. -- In the world as Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury knows it, the sun is always shining, every drive lands in the fairway and every lottery ticket is a winner.
That's not because Kingsbury looks and dresses as if he stepped off a GQ photo shoot. It's just the way his life has gone. Think about it: Kingsbury began coaching five years ago, and at age 33, he is the head coach of his alma mater.
"I thought I would still be playing right now, to be honest," Kingsbury said. "I couldn't have dreamt of it."
Who else does this happen to?
Kingsbury got his first job at Houston, where he found Case Keenum, who went on to set the NCAA career passing yardage record. Kingsbury went to Texas A&M last season and found redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel. Kingsbury taught Manziel so well that he won the Heisman Trophy.
Days later, Kingsbury left College Station for Lubbock. Most first-time head coaches take over programs that are renovation projects. The first thing they do is wipe every memory clean and install their own software. Kingsbury takes over a team that went 8-5 last season. Most coaches install an offense in which they must fit square pegs into their round holes. That's not the case for Kingsbury, either.
|Since his days as a Houston assistant, Kingsbury has gotten results.|
Not only did the Red Raiders run an offense similar to his uptempo spread, but Kingsbury has two quarterback candidates who have been immersed in spread offenses since before they started shaving.
Redshirt sophomore Michael Brewer played high school football at Austin Lake Travis for Chad Morris, who has since become the highest-paid offensive coordinator in the nation by turning Clemson into Oregon East. January enrollee Davis Webb not only has the body (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) of an upperclassman, he is a coach's son with a quarterbacking mind beyond his years, too.
"As far as the true freshmen I've been around," Kingsbury said of Webb, "I've never seen one just hop in and be that type of a leader and understand what we're trying to get at and just attack. There was a fearlessness about him from day one in spring ball, when he should have been going to prom. So that was impressive."
Brewer has two years of experience on Webb and, because of that, must be considered the favorite. As a backup last season, he completed 34 of 48 passes for 375 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. That's a quarterback rating of 164.0, which is very good in any conference. Kingsbury plans to name a starter in the middle of the second week of August workouts.
"We have two guys that we think we can win with and move the ball with, which is better than zero," he said.
Kingsbury wants to see how the quarterbacks mature through summer workouts, which coaches aren't allowed to evaluate. After a spotty spring at Texas A&M a year ago, Manziel blew the doors off of his competition in the first 10 days of practice and made the coaches give him the Aggies' offense.
Kingsbury wants his quarterbacks to pull the trigger. His philosophy is not exactly ready-fire-aim, but there's a dollop of that in his quarterback recipe.
"You make a decision and you live with it," Kingsbury said. "That's what we talk about. You're not always going to be right when you're playing at that speed. Things change, and the picture changes quickly. Just make a decision, believe what you see and attack. We harp on that a ton. There is gray area. In most football, it's black and white. When you're playing that fast and maybe the defense isn't aligned properly, or where they are going to end up, there is gray area. You just have to see what you see, and attack it.
"Sometimes you'll throw the screen out there, and they'll fly down and blow it up for minus-2," Kingsbury said. "But hey, at the time, you saw that, and you ripped it and you weren't hesitant, and you made an accurate throw. Hey, that's all we can do. Result-oriented isn't all there is to it, especially when you're playing at that tempo. It's a blurry picture a lot of the time."
With an inexperienced offensive line, Brewer or Webb will be well-advised to make quick decisions. Whoever plays is going to have a blurry picture or two.
But if Kingsbury's track record is any indication, the Red Raiders will succeed in a hurry. That's what their coach has been doing in five very short years.