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October 24, 2013

Kingsbury’s swagger palpable for No. 10 Red Raiders

LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech is off to an unbeaten start under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury and if anyone’s surprised, well, the players say they shouldn’t be.

Kingsbury’s got swagger, and he’s just oozing confidence. Those around him say the 34-year-old’s energy and enthusiasm have fueled the Red Raiders’ hot start and their surprising climb up the rankings to No. 10.

“As coaches, we try to feed off of him and as players, they hopefully feed off of him as well,” said Sonny Cumbie, the team’s co-offensive coordinator and a former Red Raiders quarterback who’s been on the coaching staff since 2010. “I think it’s kind of like the X-factor for us this season so far.”

Kingsbury, the first in a long line of record-setting quarterbacks at Texas Tech under former coach Mike Leach, returned to his alma mater in December to try to revitalize the program. A lot was made of his age — at the time he was hired on a four-year deal averaging $2 million a year, he was the youngest head coach of a BCS school and the second-youngest in the Bowl Subdivision behind Toledo’s Matt Campbell.

So far, so good. The Red Raiders (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) lead the conference after being picked seventh in the preseason poll, but a big test looms Saturday.

They head to Norman to face No. 17 Oklahoma. Sooners coach Bob Stoops said Kingsbury has done a great job on both sides of the ball since taking the reins, though he and the rest of the Big 12 have seen plenty of the Red Raiders’ prolific passing offense through the years.

“Kliff has his wrinkles to it and all, but again, all those principles you can see,” Stoops said. “It’s still difficult to stop.”

Kingsbury said he hopes his confidence is infectious.

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