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Revitalized And Energized: How Joey McGuire Plans on Thriving at Texas Tech

Taking a trip down memory lane, new Texas Tech Coach Joey McGuire knows what it takes to get to AT&T Stadium for a title.

ARLINGTON - The energy and persona of a person's demeanor can change the outlook on a situation. Nine months into the job at Texas Tech, Joey McGuire has done exactly that with the Red Raiders' energy. 

Tech receiver Myles Price was giddy as he approached the microphone Thursday afternoon at Big 12 Media Days. He noticed the small but attentive pool of reporters was hanging on his every word.

Most players often sit and tolerate questions for 15 minutes before going on their way. Not Price. Knowing he had the crowd's attention, Price began to sing as teammates watched from the inner circle. 

If I ain’t got nothing,” the junior receiver crooned. “I’ve got youuu.”

This is the new norm in Lubbock. It's McGuire's norm. Cornerback Dadrion 'Rabbit' Taylor-Demerson said that at first, he thought the infectious attitude of the longtime high school coach was a bit. Hired in November, he figured it'd wear off by spring.

It's mid-July. Little has changed. 

"The energy he brings inside the building, it gives as a young man, as a father, a brother, a cousin, it gives all confidence," Taylor-Demerson said. "We feel more masculine about ourselves. We finally have the swag to us and that's because of coach McGuire."

Swagger is one thing McGuire brings to a team that's finished with two winning seasons since 2015. A winning mentality is another. During his 13 years as Cedar Hill's (Dallas) head coach, McGuire led the Longhorns to three state title victories and countless playoff appearances. As a recruiter, he's brought countless levels of talent to Baylor that's now preparing to play on Sundays. 

McGuire wins. It's that simple. And don't tell him that just because the Red Raiders are projected to finish ninth in the Big 12, that'll be the outcome in Year 1. 

"The expectation is to play in this building," McGuire said on the sidelines of AT&T Stadium. "This is where the Big 12 championship is awarded, and our plan is to play in it. People have said, 'How long is that going to take?' Well, it's my job to accelerate the process. I want it to happen this year."

How can it happen? Perhaps McGuire pulls a trick out of Dave Aranda's playbook from 2021. The Bears were projected to finish eighth in the conference entering last season after struggling during the COVID-19 campaign. They ended up winning the conference and picked up the first 12-win season in program history. 

Much like Baylor last fall, Tech is set at quarterback. Well, they are to an extent. McGuire is still watching Tyler Shough and Donovan Smith battle it out for first-team reps, but he's been impressed with both as they continue to adapt to new offensive coordinator Zach Kittley. 

"I told coach Kittley, he will never in his career have a room like he has," McGuire said. "We have three guys that can go win football games. We have three guys that all can extend plays with their feet. We have three guys that have exceptional arm talent."

Aranda relied heavily on his defense and rushing attack to carry the load to a Big 12 title. The Bears finished 10th in rushing behind the legs of Abram Smith and Travis Ebner. They finished top 25 in pass defense and scoring, holding opponents to a measly 19.2 points per game. 

It's a similar concept this season for Tech. The Red Raiders are returning both SaRodorick Thompson and Tajh Brooks in the backfield. Taylor-Demerson believes the team's biggest strength on defense is the secondary since it returns the most starters. 

"A lot of guys have played in those big-time situations," Taylor-Demerson said. "Having that level of experience and how close we are, it's going to be fun." 

McGuire is reasonable when it comes to expectations. The Red Raiders finished 7-6 after firing Matt Wells midseason and naming offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie the interim head coach. They still haven't finished above .500 in conference play since 2009. 

That won't stop McGuire from being the same energizing, caffeine-induced madman on a mission when taking the practice field. A positive attitude produces promising results, right? 

"Winning is tough," McGuire said. "Practice, and the physical game we play, is tough. If you can’t have some fun with it, if you can’t enjoy each other, then it ain’t a whole lot of fun to come to work.”

Under Wells, players were quiet and attentive. Shy is likely a better word to describe the limited emotions shown last July. This year, they're vibrant. They're electric. Taylor-Demerson likely would grab his helmet and set himself at the 50-yard line if McGuire asked him to do so. 

Plenty has changed in the past since McGuire packed up and moved to Lubbock. One trait that's remained a constant is his love of players and high motivational energy. 

“You would think it stops,” Price laughed about McGuire. “It never stops.”

McGuire knows AT&T Stadium like the back of his hand. He knows Texas recruiting and the hot spots across the state. Somewhere, those two meet in the middle and call it the Big 12 Championship. 

It's a road McGuire intends to take the Red Raiders sooner than likely anyone expected.

"This is not his first rodeo," Price said. "Yeah, first rodeo in college, but he's still been coaching college football for a while. He's been a head coach before, so he knows exactly what it takes." 

You can follow Cole Thompson on Twitter at @MrColeThompson

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