HOUSTON -- The new coach is conspicuously absent, but that's by design. Kliff Kingsbury will have plenty of time to make the Texas Tech Red Raiders his own.
Kingsbury will attend Friday's Meineke Car Care Bowl against Minnesota, but he's left all bowl preparations to Chris Thomsen, the offensive line coach who was designated interim head coach when Tommy Tuberville suddenly left two weeks ago to accept the head coaching job at Cincinnati.
"He's done a great job of coming in and filling in for Coach Tubs," defensive end Kerry Hyder told reporters after Thomsen conducted the team's final bowl practice on Wednesday. "He's only been here a year, but he has the respect of the team."
So does Tuberville, Hyder said, despite his abrupt departure. "It wasn't a big deal to us. It was business; he had to do what he had to do, and we understood that," the junior from Austin said. Remaining focused on their game with the Gophers "says a lot about our guys. We're able to adapt to any situation so far. No matter who's coaching, we just come out here and do our jobs."
The Gophers know Kingsbury has a reputation for innovative offense after playing for the Red Raiders a decade ago, and coaching Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel as the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Texas A&M, but they assumed that the 33-year-old new coach would resist playing a role in the bowl game plan.
"Really, that offense goes back to Mike Leach," the coach who preceded Tuberville, said Gophers coach Jerry Kill. "They run a unique offense. That's hard enough to prepare for."
The Red Raiders sound relaxed as they get ready for Friday's game, which is probably a reflection of their temporary leader. Thomsen is "laid-back. He tries to crack jokes every now and then, but he's so nonchalant, that you can't really tell when he's joking," Hyder said. "He's a good coach."