Symons replaces Kingsbury seeking wins, not passing records

Updated: August 12, 2003, 2:09 PM ET

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Just because Kliff Kingsbury's record-shattering career is over, don't expect Texas Tech to change its pass-based offense.

"It's kind of amazing to me that ... there's so many question marks," coach Mike Leach said. "There's a change. But in my mind there's no question mark."

Fifth-year senior B.J. Symons is ready for the chance after wearing a path on the sidelines the last three seasons. Leach says Symons has a strong arm, a snappy delivery and makes decisions quickly, qualities that Kingsbury sometimes lacked.

"B.J. is one backup quarterback that I felt like never squandered his time," Leach said. "He really zeroed in and really got better. When it's all said and done, B.J. is going to be a heck of a quarterback and comparable (to Kingsbury) in every way."

With Kingsbury throwing for more than 5,000 yards and 45 touchdowns last season, Tech went 9-5 and finished third in the Big 12 South at 5-3. The Red Raiders had a chance to win the division after beating then-No. 3 Texas, but lost to Oklahoma by 45 in the finale. Tech capped the season by beating Clemson 55-15 in the Tangerine Bowl.

Kingsbury finished with numerous NCAA records, including career marks in completions (1,231) and attempts (1,883). Among his 39 school records are career yards (12,429) and career TDs (95).

Symons' career numbers (545 yards, seven touchdowns) are about the equivalent of one big game for Kingsbury. He knows he's not going to be the statistical freak his predecessor was, he just wants to keep the offense churning.

"I'm not Kliff, and I'm not going to try to fill his shoes," Symons said. "I'm going to try to do the things to make this team win. That's my goal.

"We've got guys who make plays. I don't have to be the one to make the plays. I'm not looking to come in and have all eyes on me."

Symons' job will be to get the ball to Taurean Henderson, Wes Welker and Mickey Peters. Each was among the top seven in catches-per-game in the conference last season, while Henderson, a running back, set an NCAA freshman record with 98 receptions.

Welker also is a threat on punts. His 88-yard return against Texas A&M helped the Red Raiders erase an 18-point fourth quarter deficit en route to an overtime win. He finished seventh in the Big 12 in average return yards (13.2) and third in all-purpose yards per game (147).

Welker isn't concerned about the QB change.

"B.J. seems pretty calm in the pocket and when he needs to get out, he's agile," Welker said.

Tech has some sizable gaps to fill on defense, too, in linebacker Lawrence Flugence and defensive end Aaron Hunt. Even with them, though, Tech allowed 403 yards per game. The Red Raiders gave up at least 28 point in nine games.

Leach hired Lyle Setencich as defensive coordinator to try turning things around.

"We don't have a whole lot of kids with a whole lot of experience," Setencich said. "Time is what we need."

Setencich and Leach first worked together in 1987, when Setencich was head coach at California Poly in San Luis Obispo and he gave Leach his first collegiate post as offensive line coach.

But hiring Setencich wasn't about repaying a favor. Setencich has proven himself as a defensive leader, such as in 1996 when his Arizona State team not only stopped Nebraska's 26-game winning streak, but shut them out.

"We're going to be more in your face," free safety Ryan Aycock said, "and try to throw teams off a little more."

With Tech, it's always about throwing.

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index