We go back to the ASAP Sports transcript for this week’s press conference quotes from head coach Kliff Kingsbury, defensive coordinator David Gibbs, offensive coordinator Eric Morris, center Jared Kaster and linebacker Micah Awe.
1. We start with head coach Kliff Kingsbury and I think this is the first time that I’ve seen peak frustrated Kingsbury. When asked how he fixes the toughness of the receivers (or lack thereof), Kingsbury says that he just doesn’t have any answers. That is frustration of guys not doing what he thinks they are capable of doing. And I’d wager that these guys are getting as good of coaching that you’ll see, with Morris, who we are sure knows how to play inside, with Chiaverini, who we are sure knows out to play outside and Kingsbury, who knows how to play quarterback.
Q. You’ve talked about execution in certain situations during games that’s really been lacking. Do you see that in practice? And if you do, what do you see is the reason it’s carrying over to games?
COACH KINGSBURY: I think a lot of it is nerves, I guess, being fearful of failing. It appears to me you have five drops offensively, some of the things we did, and then defensively some missed tackles, missed assignments, not triggering. It’s just something we have to get better at and play ourselves out of.
Q. How do you fix the toughness situation?
COACH KINGSBURY: Just keep working at it, I don’t have any answers to that one. Like I said, that team was a tough team and they took it to us, and that’s, as a coach, as a player, you’ve got to look at that film and say, hey, we have to be tougher than we were.
Q. Is that frustrating to you?
COACH KINGSBURY: It is because we knew what environment we were going into, and as coaches you try to prepare them as a senior-laden team, they’re very physical, they play tough. When you don’t answer the bell the way we’d like, it’s frustrating, but it’s something we have to get better at and grow up a little bit.
2. Kingsbury hasn’t had a chance to gush on his players a bit, but he does when he’s asked about RB DeAndre Washington.
Q. On a more positive note, Dre goes over 1,000 for a second straight season. It’s almost like he’s done it quietly. What’s he meant to the program?
COACH KINGSBURY: He’s meant a lot. It’s been awesome watching him grow up on and off the field. He’s coming off that knee injury when we first got here, and to see his development and the type of player he’s become, pass catching, blocking, and running. He does a lot of it on his own. He’s great at making people miss and great after contact. He’s a guy that our young players can look up to. His work ethic and the way he carries himself, so can’t say enough good things about him.
3. Run the ball, run the ball and run the ball. That’s what he’s expecting and Kingsbury is thinking that Kansas State isn’t going to beat themselves and they will run with Hubener. Better be ready.
Q. What do you see defensively from Kansas State that concerns you?
COACH KINGSBURY: Yeah, the last two years we’ve played them we just turned the ball over a bunch. They’re a defense that’s not going to miss the line. They’re going to be where they ought to be and they’re going to make you beat them. Great executing. Coach Hayes is a tremendous defensive coach. They’re always lined up and well prepared. If you’re not ready, they’ll embarrass you. In the last couple years we haven’t played very well against them.
Q. Kansas State doesn’t have the reputation of bringing in blue chip recruits or leading in the recruiting rankings. What do you see on film every year, year-in and year-out from a Bill Snyder crew that separates him and kind of lifts his team up and separates them from the pack?
COACH KINGSBURY: Yeah, just amazing at fundamentals and techniques. You never see them make any dumb penalties or dumb mistakes. Their execution is at a very, very high level. That’s a credit to him. He’s a Hall of Fame coach. What he does there year-in and year-out, what he’s built there is incredible.
Q. Does that concern you, obviously he’s doing well?
COACH KINGSBURY: He does. He’s a big, physical kid. With our struggles against the run, we’re going to see a heavy dose of him. He has more speed than you’d like. He can make people miss, so it will be a challenge.
4. Honest Gibbs makes an appearance and says quite frankly that the opposing offenses are just better than Texas Tech.
Q. Can you just assess your defensive performance Saturday and how you felt about it and the progression you’re making or not?
COACH GIBBS: Obviously couldn’t stop the run. Went into the game, game plan was to stop the run and make them throw it. We couldn’t, at the end of the day, we couldn’t stop them to give our offense a chance to win it. So back to the drawing board, back to practicing hard.
Thought we had a really good week of practice again. I say that every week, it’s just it’s not going on Saturdays and you’re tired of hearing me say it, but it’s true. You know, I get you we played I think 83 gradable snaps and probably 78 of them were run defenses or run blitzes.
So obviously got to do a better job coaching and getting our guys in better position so they can make the plays, make the tackles. There is no excuse. I mean, we’ve got to stop them and didn’t do it. So it’s my job to get it done, and we didn’t get it done.
Q. Is there anything tangible that you see that’s keeping you from translating what happens in practice to the game?
COACH GIBBS: Generally the people we play against are probably better than the people we practice against, so that could have something to do with it. But at the same time, we’ve got a lot of veteran guys. Obviously, at the end of the game, getting two personal fouls on the last drive is a direct reflection of leadership and it’s on me.
Two senior guys who played a lot of football, two senior captains, it’s not acceptable. For whatever reason it happened, and we’ve got to get it corrected and get it corrected now.
5. Gibbs flat out says that the penalties are adirect reflection on him as a coach.
Q. Coach, I’m curious how you say it’s your fault with the penalties there? I realize you’re the coach and defensive coordinator, but they’re the ones that made the mistake. It seems like that’s a little harsh?
COACH GIBBS: The truth is you build a culture, and if guys are doing that, especially senior guys who have been around, you can understand freshmen making mistakes and I’m okay with younger guys who aren’t as experienced. But to me in those situations veteran guys got to do what’s best for the team, what’s best for the defense. Those are selfish, to me, that’s selfishness, which comes from the top, in my opinion.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about what you’re expecting this week?
COACH GIBBS: Run, run, run like everybody else does, and they’re good, they’re well-coached, they’re smart. They know what they’re doing. They lost five games in a row, and four of the five they could have won against really good football teams. So they’ll look at us and be smiling from ear to ear.
6. The reason I’m pulling this is the second quote is the line about bad defenses never being in the same place twice, and ain’t that the truth. It’s like a dam with 100 different holes to plug. Sometimes I really think it is a maddening process.
Q. I know other people may not, but are you seeing any positives in your defense so far as the year goes on?
COACH GIBBS: I am. I see some guys getting better. I tell you that every week. We’re creating some turnovers. I think other teams have fumbled like 16 times this year, and we’ve only recovered eight of them. I’m not sure of the exact numbers, but some guys are getting better. And I said it again last week and I’ll say it again this week. They kept competing. Even though we couldn’t stop them, they were fighting. We were trying like crazy to stop them and get them off the field.
So they didn’t quit, which there is a fine line because you’re not quitting, but you’re not stopping anybody. So just got to continue to work, get better, and like I say every week, keep coaching them as hard as we can coach them and keep recruiting when the season’s over with.
Q. With one win to become bowl eligible, is it almost a situation of two games left that you maybe throw in the kitchen sink and do some things outside that you usually do, or do you just continue to preach?
COACH GIBBS: No, I’m listening to anybody. I’m back here. I’ll be in here tomorrow morning at 4:30 if you want to come help me. I’m all ears. I’ve said this before, the problem with bad defenses is they never stay in the same place twice. Even when you’re doing stuff that you’ve done from day one. So if you start adding stuff and doing things that you don’t have, they have no chance of being in the right places.
So your chances of being successful are slim to none. Of course easy to say what you’re doing right now is not working, but we’ll keep fighting, we’ll keep coaching and trying to get better.
7. Offensive coordinator Eric Morris is up next and I wanted to highlight the question about the ouside receivers, that whatever their performance is, it’s inexcusable and that’s pretty blunt and the last quote, Morris says it starts with coaching, but the receivers have to execute as well. The difference between an offense that can do things down the field vs. one that barely was able to move the ball through the air.
Q. Coach, you have an inside receivers coach, outside receivers coach that played professional football and on the college level. Is it frustrating to see dropped passes and what do you do to try to combat that?
COACH MORRIS: Yeah, catching a ton of them, five on the day, and really at huge points in the game. I mean, two touchdowns, the screen set-up is going to be a great play for us on a first down when we’re driving, and then the other touchdown that Pat made an incredible throw into cover two. And couple on drives, Cameron Batson drops a big one on a drive we’re marching down the field.
It’s inexcusable. So we’ve got to continue to harp on it. We’ll catch some extra balls and stay late, later than normal this week and we’ll try to get it corrected.
Q. Does that become a mental thing more than anything else?
COACH MORRIS: Yeah, I think so. On the jugs, I mean, Devin’s as good as anybody we have on the jugs, so we’re going to try to do a little bit more with them moving a little bit more as opposed to standing still on the jugs. It’s a little different when you’re moving so we’ll do a little bit more of that and see if it helps a little bit.
Q. Speaking of, just your outside receivers positioning this year, just the production hasn’t been quite as good. What do you think at this point with the coming staff for those guys to catch more balls in general?
COACH MORRIS: Yeah, they’ve got to start making plays. It’s embarrassing. It’s not what this offense is drawn up to do, and it starts with us who have coached them. I’ve coached these guys for three years, and it’s inexcusable. They’ve got to step up and do it, or we’ve got to make some changes.
We started a lot of youth out there against a lot of West Virginia older players. They’ve got linebackers that are flying around and they play more physical than us. You turn on the tape and watch the first ten plays of the tape, and you can tell right then that they played faster and harder and came downhill and put it on us and kind of suffocated us a little bit.
So you’ve got some kids out there. We started those two freshmen, and both of them are 18 years old playing against two senior corners. So, you know, you expect a couple, not us not to dominate out there on the outside, but they can’t just drop. When we do get them open, we have to capitalize on those opportunities.
8. Both Morris and Kingsbury are pretty lock-step when it comes to QB Patrick Mahomes’ performance and that’s true this week as well. Morris acknowledges that when the defense walks down on them, plays man-to-man, then it’s that much more tough to run. I don’t think that Kansas State has the personnel to play this way, but maybe they will.
Q. How did you feel Pat played last week?
COACH MORRIS: Yeah, I think Pat did some good stuff. One bad throw there in the red zone we can’t afford to have. He knows that and took away points from us. Overall he made some plays with his feet that were unbelievable and got some — made some throws on the run like he’s been doing all year. The one that Keke dropped. The one that Cameron Batson dropped. Those are all on-the-run throws. Extended a play for Jakeem on that first touchdown.
Doing some really good stuff. Tough player, you can see that. Ran over a couple of those linebackers who are all four are seniors and played a lot of football. So he’s a tough kid that definitely brings a lot to this program.
Q. As the drop passes, has that affected play calling inside the 35 a little bit or is that a non-factor?
COACH MORRIS: Yeah, I mean, we’ve got to continue to do what we do. We’ve run the ball more so these last couple weeks to try to force the issue on getting the ball to 21 who is do being good stuff with it. But at the same point, if they start walking everybody down in there and give us eight-man boxes across the board, which West Virginia did a lot, you’re beating your head against the wall if you’re trying to run it into that.
So, yeah, we’ve got to continue to throw it and find unique ways to get it to the guys we trust right now.
9. Here’s what Morris expects from Kansas State.
Q. As far as K-State, can you talk about them defensively?
COACH MORRIS: Yeah, as well coached as anybody in this conference, and you go back and look at all these games. They could have won four of these games they lost in our conference. They lost in the end at Oklahoma State, played Baylor really, really good last week. Did some good stuff against Texas. So defensively they’re, I wouldn’t even say down. They’ve lost a couple key guys. They lost their best corner last week, but it just seems like Bill has done forever, Coach Snyder plugs guys in everywhere, and they seem to perform pretty dad gum well.
So they’ve played this defense for a long time. They read their keys. They’re not going to give you anything exotic. They blitzed a little more this year than they did last year. But they’re really good at taking away what you’re good at, even Baylor, they stopped Baylor’s running attack last week. So I think they’ll have that same plan this week is to take DeAndre out of the game and find a way to take 11 out.
But we’ll know where they’re at. They play the same defense and they’re really good at it.
Q. What does their secondary do so well?
COACH MORRIS: I think they keep everything in front of you, and they do a good job at just not making mistakes back there and giving up big plays. They’ve tackled well for a long time, so I think they keep it all in front of you is their first and foremost plan, and then rally the ball and make plays and make you put together long drives. And they bank on you making that mistake at some time.
You know, they’re pretty good at what they do. Like I said. They play too high most of the time and those safeties do a good job reading, and run passing. They come down in the run fit and they’re good tacklers.
10. We get the players and I’m taking a bit more from them today, mainly, how they feel about it being their last game at Jones AT&T Stadium. Here’s Kaster on senior day and also on he talks about the personal foul, not wanting to place blame for the result of the game on Branden Jackson, that there are other opportunities for the game to be won.
Q. Saturday is Senior Day. Your last day to put them on here. How does that feel knowing it’s your last go around?
JARED KASTER: Yeah, it’s my last go around. It’s my last time to put on the red and black in the stadium. It’s a little bitter sweet moment. It hasn’t hit me yet. It probably will after the game. But, yeah, it’s been a phenomenal experience and a roller coaster here. It’s been fun. I mean, there is no other place than Lubbock, Texas, and the Jones to play at in college football. That is the reason I came here to play in that stadium, and it’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to go out there with my teammates and have that one last game there in that stadium.
Q. How important is it for you personally to get a win in your last game at the Jones?
JARED KASTER: I mean, it’s something you’ll remember for sure. It’s something you’ll look back on and say on Senior Day we got a win. But still, I mean, this is going against a very good Kansas State football team. We’re really going to have to bring it in order to get that win. But, yeah, that’s something that I’ll look back 20 years from now and really remember the experiences that I had.
Q. (Indiscernible) to stay away from the fouls?
JARED KASTER: Yeah, you go back and we have each other’s back. It was the heat of the moment. It’s something that happens, but that didn’t cost us the game. What happened, I mean, there were multiple opportunities for the offense to go down there and score, but we have their backs no matter what. No matter what happens to everybody, we’re always going to ride it out for each other.
And Micah Awe talks about how Gibbs is calling the right plays at the right time, but mistakes are causing this defense to be mistake-prone. Also, Awe talks about his team and how proud he is of this team and they’re excited about playing Kansas State.
Q. You’ve said repeatedly Coach Gibbs is doing what he needs to do for the defense to be good. And repeatedly he comes out and says all these problems are on me. As a senior captain, do you talk to the team and say, hey, guys, he’s taking the fall for us and we need to step up? Does that resonate with you guys?
MICAH AWE: Yeah, part of the problem is I’m right in the middle. Sadly I made mistakes on Saturday that I wasn’t supposed to make, and Coach Gibbs, literally, I’m telling you, he calls the right plays at the right time. All we have to do is learn how to listen to him and do it. I can’t really say much more; I have to show it. I can say it all day, a thousand times, a million times and it won’t make a difference.
We’ve got to show it, and that’s what we’re still working on. For Coach Gibbs and the future of these guys, I know it’s going to be great because every game that we’re going through right now are stepping stones. They’re stepping stones.
Even for me, I love this defense because I’m learning a lot. I think it’s an NFL-type defense, that it puts a lot on the linebackers, but that’s fine. We like it. Me, Dakota, D’Vonta, Malik, we all like that pressure on us because that’s what linebackers do is we make tackles.
Q. Is there one moment here at Tech that stands out to you?
MICAH AWE: That’s hard. The one moment would probably be just how far I’ve come with different coaches, this and that, and this last year how everything is coming back around full circle. Even though we’re not winning, I still think personally this is one of the best defenses we’ve had. We just aren’t showing it. Also one of the best teammates that I’ve had since I’ve been here. Because the camaraderie after five losses in a row, we’re not down in there. We’re actually really pumped up to go against Kansas State and get this win, which is surprising because no one’s being sad. Everyone’s ready to go. I’m ready to see what we do Saturday.