Joey McGuire describes himself as a high school coach who gets to coach college football. After all, he is a Texas native who won three state championships under the Friday night lights.
McGuire is now the head coach at Texas Tech after his transition to college coaching for the past five years as an assistant at Baylor, one of the state’s other Big 12 schools and the reigning conference champion. He has brought an infectious enthusiasm to an already passionate fan base desperate for a title of their own.
“People have said, ‘How long will it take?’ Well, my job is to speed up the process,” McGuire said. “You know, I want it to happen this year, for sure, and I know the team does too.”
That would be a major turnaround, considering the Red Raiders haven’t had a winning record in Big 12 play since Mike Leach’s last season on the Lubbock campus in 2009. When Tech was 7-6 in last year after a convincing victory in the Liberty Bowl. over Leach-coached Mississippi State was the first time in six seasons that it finished above .500 overall.
Regardless of his record this year, McGuire is already building a solid foundation in his first college head coaching job.
His kinship with Texas high school coaches is having a big impact on recruiting. The school has announced plans for a $200 million project with a new locker room and offices in a new four-story building at the south end of the stadium, along with a new two-story training facility. And the current players have embraced their new coach.
“I thought (the players) would buy into what we were going to do, but I didn’t think it was going to be as quick as it has been,” McGuire said. “It’s been incredible, the trust the players have placed in us and how hard they’ve been working.”
Former Oregon transfer Tyler Shough threw for 872 yards and six touchdowns in his four games last season with a broken collarbone. Donovan Smith started the last four games, including the bowl win, and redshirt freshman Behren Morton is also in the mix at quarterback.
McGuire described “a three-horse race” as a starter, but anticipates using multiple quarterbacks.
“If Donovan Smith doesn’t win the job, I’d be crazy not to have a 6-5, 240-pound quarterback who doesn’t run quarterback power at the goal line,” the coach said.
MORE ABOUT McGUIRE
Dallas-area Cedar Hill High had never won a playoff game before McGuire’s three championships in 14 seasons. He joined Matt Rhule’s staff at Baylor in 2017, and the Bears were in the Big 12 title game two years later before Rhule left for the NFL.
McGuire stayed with the Bears on coach Dave Aranda’s staff, and they were on their way to winning the Big 12 championship when Tech hired him in November to replace the fired Matt Wells. McGuire left immediately to begin work in Lubbock while interim coach Sonny Cumbie finished the season on the field.
BACK TO TECH
New offensive coordinator Zach Kittley is familiar with Lubbock and high-scoring offenses.
Kittley was OC last season at Western Kentucky, averaging 535 yards and 44 points per game, after big numbers at Houston Baptist the year before. His father is the all-time NCAA Championship winning track coach. The younger Kittley worked with Kliff Kingsbury from 2013 to 2017, going from student assistant to graduate assistant and then assistant QBs coach in a stretch that included Patrick Mahomes as the Red Raiders’ starter.
“He’ll say we have air strike concepts, but we’re not a true air strike,” McGuire said of Kittley. “In the interview, he said, ‘Coach, I’m going to find our best 11 players, I’m going to get them on the field and we’re going to score a lot of points.'”
Season opening on September 3 against Murray State is the first of seven home games for the Red Raiders. Five of those are Big 12 games, including No. 9 Oklahoma, No. 10 Baylor and Texas visiting Lubbock. There are back-to-back non-conference games against top 25 teams when it hosts future Big 12 No. 24 Houston on Sept. 10, then head to No. 13 North Carolina State next week.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25
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