Kingsbury's Next Make or Break Year

Somehow Kliff Kingsbury survived 2017. Kingsbury looked left of dead after losing six of eight to end the season, but somehow he survived. If last year was a razor-sharp margin for error, there is no net in 2018. 

In 2017 Kingsbury had the benefit of Nik Shimonek who while not playing much in 2016, did shine in his brief appearances. The Red Raiders returned a group of talented receivers for Shimonek to throw to as well. The most significant question was Tech's defense and whether the Red Raiders could hold opponents below a reasonable scoring total to steal wins. 

In 2018,  Texas Tech will break in a new quarterback who hasn't demonstrated competency on the field, and the Red Raiders lose Cameron Batson, Dylan Cantrell, Keke Coutee, and Derrick Willies from the receiving corps. They also lose Justin Stockton at running back. 

On the flip side, and we see the humor is in this, Tech's defense is a strength. David Gibbs finally made headway in 2017 even if the Red Raiders weren't world beaters. Tech returns Dakota Allen who should be a contender for Big 12 defensive player of the year in 2018 plus his running buddy Jordyn Brooks. The entire secondary returns and the defensive line has enough coming back and potential that it won't be a liability. 

The offense is rarely the issue in Lubbock, so we can assume Kingsbury will get some handle on point production, plus it's the Big 12, so defenses tend to be a bit more accommodating. 

The question is how many? As in, how many wins will it take to see that Kingsbury gets another reprieve? Somehow we doubt that six gets him another year. Kingsbury's been living on borrowed time for two or three seasons, any stumble in 2018 and chances are Kirby Hocutt makes a change. 

Some argued that Kingsbury wasn't ready for the challenge of running his program and while that may be the case, he's developed as a coach as well. Hiring Gibbs and, more importantly, sticking with Gibbs is paying off. Tech has improved defensively even if not to a respectable level. Rebuilding a defense in the Big 12 is akin to rebuilding a ship during a storm in the Atlantic, it's not advisable. Still, the Gibbs is an experienced operator, and his leadership is invaluable especially considering the revolving door of defensive coordinators that preceded him. 

Looking ahead at 2018 the Red Raiders have every chance to be 3-0, and they'd better be because the gauntlet of the Big 12 comes at them fast with a home game with West Virginia sandwiched between road trips to Oklahoma State and TCU. That'll take the wind out of their sails quickly. The chances of the Red Raiders squeezing more than seven wins out of the 2018 schedule is difficult to bet on, even with red colored glasses. Would Hocutt keep Kingsbury every after another year at or below .500? We're not betting on it. 

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