Sunday, October 14, 2012


Column: Lubbock Smith welcome upgrade


Every regime change in college football is accompanied by a promise from the new head coach that he and his staff will seek to upgrade the speed of the defense.

It’s a noble, almost always necessary goal. Slow defenses get exposed in a hurry and find themselves on the wrong end of blowouts.

But sometimes a football player who doesn’t approach gold-medal speed brings too much in the way of toughness and savvy to keep on the sidelines.

Mark Mangino quickly figured that out about safety Lubbock Smith. Smith started six games as a red-shirt freshman in 2009, Mangino’s final season, and was named to the Sporting News Freshman All-Big 12 team. Then Mangino got forced out two years after going 12-1 and winning the Orange Bowl.

Turner Gill, who lasted for two years of a five-year, $10 million contract and compiled a 5-19 record, upon taking the job and promising to build a winning “dynasty” talked about the need to upgrade the defense’s speed.

In Gill’s first season, Smith started the first nine games and missed the final three with injury. Gill demoted him to third safety during his junior season and preferred Keeston Terry, upgrading the speed of the defense and downgrading its toughness.

Charlie Weis and defensive coordinator Dave Campo put Smith right back in the starting lineup. Terry? He’s playing safety for Division II powerhouse Pittsburg State because he wanted no part of Camp Charlie.

“I went to his first meeting with the team and he was dog-cussing the players and was very arrogant,” Terry told the Independence Examiner of Weis in February. “I don’t want to be a part of that.”

Terry could be part of a national-championship team. The Gorillas are ranked No. 1 in Division II.

Smith, who comes from Dallas football powerhouse Carter High, the same school NFL receiver Michael Crabtree attended, prefers to play Big 12 football.

In Saturday’s 20-14 loss to Oklahoma State, Smith showed why he belongs in the Big 12. He intercepted a pass and returned it 18 yards.

Smith rocked quarterback J.W. Walsh as he was throwing a pass on third-and-five at the KU 44, and the hit killed any chance for accuracy. The play enabled Kansas to have the ball with 6:49 left trailing by six points.

“It was a boost, definitely a big play, but I just wish we could have made more things happen on defense,” Smith said.

It was a good week for a defense that held Oklahoma State, the team leading the nation in offense going into the game, to 20 points.

“It definitely gives us encouragement as far as stepping in the direction of where we need to go, but we need to strive to keep getting better day in and day out,” Smith said.


Ferd Magellan 9 years, 7 months ago

"He’s playing safety for Division II powerhouse Pittsburg State because he wanted no part of Camp Charlie."

That's not true at all. He did not leave by choice.

Brendan Connolly 9 years, 7 months ago

You are incorrect. When Gill was let go, he began looking to transfer.....before Weis was even hired. Then he went to first meeting and didn't like weis's attitude. He was dismissed, but that is akin to you getting a bunch of calls at your work for jobs you are applying to and having your resume on the internet, and your boss firing you.

The end action was a dismissal, but that was simply to end the delay he had put in motion before Weis was hired.

Brendan Connolly 9 years, 7 months ago

So you are arguing it wasn't his choice and then say only reason he is gone is he didn't want to follow new rules......isn't that a choice?

Dirk Medema 9 years, 7 months ago

6 of one, half dozen of another. Does it make a difference, and does anyone really care?

It's right up there with the "vital" stats of the past 2 coaching regimes.

Really glad that Lubbock is still around, and growing with the rest of the D for CW & Campo. It would still be really nice to surprise a team or 2 this year, and build some momentum into the recruiting and conditioning season.

ArgyleJayhawks 9 years, 7 months ago

Again, why the need to continually trash Turner and the players who left/were forced out? Move on, LJW.

W Keith Swinehart II 9 years, 7 months ago

Not sure what the purpose of the article, but Smith looks good. Glad for the recognition of his talent.

milehighhawk 9 years, 7 months ago

It was a little schizo.

Supposedly about Lubbock Smith with the most incendiary quotes about something else.

Steve Corder 9 years, 7 months ago

This is a better team than last year, regardless of the W-L record.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years, 7 months ago

They are making strides.

And I think the most overlooked issue from Saturday's game is Weis himself. It takes a great deal of humility to swallow your pride and pull Dayne Crist. That's not to say Crist won't start again this week, but Weis did what was necessary

The stigma that Weis has carried with him is that of an egomaniac; one who people predict would be stubborn and unwaivering in a situation like this. Dayne Crist was his guy, and Weis had a lot riding on him. In pulling him from the game Saturday, Weis showed that the program is worth more than one man, and certainly worth more than Weis's pride.

And more importantly, it proves that, if necessary, Weis will admit to being wrong. That shows progress from his reputation at Notre Dame, and shows this program has the right man at the helm for now.

Let's see what happens from here.

pepper_bar 9 years, 7 months ago

Happened three weeks too late. Nobody's impressed.

frank mcguinness 9 years, 7 months ago

Playing for a #1 team in D2 football is like going to the NIT. Whoop D Doo.

april28 9 years, 7 months ago

Again....what's the rumpus? The story is about a guy who was successful, was benched because his Rivals 40 time wasn't fast enough (or his coaches found some math students who could run a stopwatch and record the numbers on a sheet of paper) and - suddenly - comes back and appears to be a player.

Terry's reason's for leaving are well-documented in his interview with the Dixie News - he said he left because Charlie was a dog-cusser (I must admit, I haven't heard that phrase since Cool Hand Luke). So....either he's a liar or he chose to leave. Either way, it is a very important part of the column.

Bottom line: if players could be chosen simply by how fast they are, then Renaldo Nehemiah would be in the Hall of Fame.

I watched KSU in the fertilizer bowl on Saturday and the announcer couldn't get over how much faster the back-up quarterback was than Colin Klein. Yep....he's way faster. So, if Turner Gill was his coach, would he bench Colin Klein? My guess is yes.

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