A couple of housekeeping things to address here.
1) I updated the baseball series thread with South Florida where Texas Tech swept the Bulls for this weekend series. Awesome work. The Kansas State series starts Thursday and ends on Saturday because of Easter Sunday and will be in Manhattan.
2) If you are looking for updates on Chris Beard, I posted on Saturday morning and also this morning. I don’t really have any updates because I don’t have any inside knowledge, but I figure you all will want a place to comment.
3) The coordinators spoke last week and there’s a ton of information there. This took a ton of time to non-transcript (not actual quotes, but me typing as fast as I can with the general idea. The press conferences are embedded below, so feel free to give it a listen if you want.
I think the most important thing has to be the communication up front, just being good communicators, the expectations of the competition, and the job is not won on one or two good practices, but over the course of the spring and summer. Henry Colombi has done a nice job, he’s done it like he’s played games in the Big 12, Donovan Smith is a bright spot, Behren Morton is throwing the ball around really well, Maverick McIvor has gotten reps, Tyler Shough has done well, you would have though he missed time with the offense. The talent in the room has been significantly upgraded. The communication and expectations is the biggest thing.
It is the calmness, with both of them, when they can weather a few bad plays or practice, these are long practices and long games, I talk to all of them in the room, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, Tyler and Henry have experience, that is to their advantage and how they use that is up to them. There is a real calmness about their demeanor.
I would say that offenses are always evolving, defenses are really good, guys play with speed on the field, there will be some similarities when I was a player, coaching with Kingsbury, but also some things we’ll use with our personnel, our quarterbacks are a big part of that, what can they do.
I think the first thing is if he is a winner, one of the things with Donovan, I watched him practice at Frenship, the season they had when he got there. Accuracy, arm strength, coachability, how does he relate to teammates, is he a guy that guys gravitate towards, those are intangibles, those are things that you get from watching games and practices, and completion percentages in third downs.
Coach Patterson was talking about the defensive line, Bradford, Wilson, Hutchings, Drew, they create problems and are explosive. Caleb Rogers has continued to develop, he’s grown a lot and Weston Wright, with Dawson being limited, that will give us depth next year and Josh Burger getting snaps at right guard and center, T.J. Storment has added experience as well. The line, it is how well do they play together.
I noticed the first two practices, just throwing it to EZ, he’s done a nice job and he is hungry, he practices with great effort, really encouraged how he sets the standard, Loic [Fouonji] is behind him and explosive. Just working on catching the ball in traffic, contested catches, Trey [Cleveland] has shown explosiveness, Koontz is a big target, the guys at H, Sterling Galban, Myles Price, and McLane Mannix, have all done things, J.J. [Sparkman] and JB [Jerand Bradley] at X, we look like a basketball team out there, they are big targets.
The conversations with EZ have been about challenging himself and I’ve been very fortunate to be around good football players, and they love to practice, EZ fits the mold of that.
SaRodorick [Thompson] is explosive and powerful, great inside zone runner and has good vision, develop his ability to catch the ball out of the back field, Tahj [Brooks] has great patience and vision, always moving forward with his pads, how he can improve himself is as a route runner, and with Chad [Townsend], he has great top-end speed, the whole group, from a work ethic standpoint, doesn’t mean we don’t have great success each day, but talk about guys hat work and are coachable, that’s this group.
Xavier White is a player I’ve seen on film only, and is explosive and excited to get him out there. He is soaking everything up, experience is an advantage if you use it. There is a lot of talk on the field with the players, there is encouragement.
I think Caleb Rogers jumps off the pages at right tackle, [Ethan] Carde has had a good spring, he’s gotten his body in shape, Larry Moore is an up and coming guy, needs to gain some strength. With TJ coming in playing left tackle, we’ve been pleased with it, it is a position with Caleb’s versatility, he’ll get the first crack at it.
Holcomb from Wellington, playing as a true freshman is difficult, at tight end it is difficult he did a nice job, he is tough and smart, he is a good blocker, behind him we have [Mason] Tharp and [Jed] Castles very long, Mason has put 20 pounds on him, the blocking part is foreign to them, Jason Lloyd has been here as well as [Henry] Teeter and identifying what they are good at and what’s in their wheelhouse.
It has just been a lot of phone calls, what the rules allow, communicating back and forth, when we got the green light, we have not had a player in the facility more than he has, you have to run him off the practice field. This guy backed up Justin Herbert and this guy learned that from somewhere, he’s graduated from Oregon, he’s basically on grad school football, we didn’t slow down the train, we just kept going.
Well, I think that size and athleticsm, Rayshad Williams 6’3″ 205 and is really smooth had an unbelieable day today, Malike Dunlap is closer to 6’4″ and 215 pounds, Demarcus Fields, Eric Monroe, Muddy Waters is another guy who is 6’1″, Malik started at NC State, Rayshad started at UCLA, Muddy started in the ACC, I like the way we are headed.
Nate Floyd is cover safety, Kobee Minor is a guy we have high hopes for and Adrian Frye is playing well and am proud of him, he’s had good days. I still consider him a young guy, those are the guys that pop out in my mind, but we have to continue to build the gap.
I think that Colin [Schooler] is the biggest difference, he’s down to 10% body fat and can tell he is so explosive, I thought he was good a year ago and now he is so explosive. Really the whole linebacker group, Brandon Bouyer-Randle is really finally showing that God-given talent he is blessed with. Riko coming off of injury is helping me coach, obviously Merriweather is a physical presence, big Riko is still trying to recover, some of the younger guys, Jessiah Peirre is off to a great start, he’s 6’3″ and 242 pounds and can run and am excited what he can develop into.
We want to shore some things up, a year ago, just in Big 12 Conference play, we went from 10th to 5th, in yards, our fits were not tight, so we put an emphasis on that the first 5 practices, Our guys have changed up front, our guys have changed up front, Ty Wilson, Nelson Mbanasor, Jaylon Hutchings, Tony Bradford, Devin Drew, they are getting bigger, Philip Bilidi, if we can make it more difficult to run the ball, we went from 10th in every single pass category to 5th, if we can make that same stride, our goal is to be a dominant defense, and that’s what it is going to take.
It is hard to explain to people who don’t live in this bubble, last year, what those kids went through, we’ve left the university 1 time to go recruiting, the people we have brought in, coach uses the word culture, I like to use words to define us, the things I’m dealing with the past couple of years, so it is different, it takes time when you are trying to change something. Where we are right now, 24 months, 18 months, 12 months ago, it’s not even the same.
You can’t even describe it, guys who are coming from a Power 5 conference, who have experienced success, every one of them that we have brought in, they have been productive. Colin, Eric [Monroe], Jacob [Morgenstern], Tyree Wilson, what these guys have done for us, they have raised the standard and created competitive depth, so we’ve created competitive depth, what we’ve done with Muddy Waters and Colin Schooler only have 1 year left of eligibility, Dunlap, Williams have 3 years of eligibility and Pierre has 4. Wilson has multiple years of eligibility left, the biggest thing is to bring in older guys who have experience, and getting them to buy in and change the culture, there’s no recruiting, it’s almost a business transaction.
Coming out of the first spring, I knew Jordyn was a real talent and Riko, I didn’t see a ton of guys we could win football games with. Now, I can go on and on and on, out of 12 guys, I’ve got 10 I can get on the field, I had Broderick and Eli and the rest was a question mark. We were very thin, we are not close where we need to be depth wise, but we are closer.
I think the biggest things, like I’ve told you before, all are hurry up no huddle offense, in 2006 and 2005, we were first in our conference, but here comes Mahlzahn and our wheels fall off, so we changed how we measured success. Create negative yardage plays, force take always, and 3 and outs. Quit looking at total yards per game and look at yards per play. We’ve led the Big 12 conference in plays on defense. We did a 2 year study, we’re #2 behind Stanford in blocking kicks, I believe there is a direct correlation, we don’t surrender one point or one play. Negative yards per play, third down defense, get off the field 70% of the time, force 6 3 and outs, 3 take always, and 9 negative yards per play, if we hit 3 of those we have a chance to win. The yards per play speaks to explosiveness and we gave up much less last year.
That’s why we’ve always based out of the odd front, we can recruit 2nd level players on forced fits, more emphasis on 3 and 4, typically over the past 15 years, we’ve been more aggressive on third down. Ty Wilson is going to reach that potential, he’s bigger stronger, and faster, Nelson Mbanasor, I’ve put Tony inside, him and Jaylon are big and powerful, I like what I see from those guys inside, whether it is personnel and scheme, we have to be more calculated.
They’re playing the same position, we can dual train Tony, he’s powerful just like Jaylon, it is strange, when you move someone from over the tackle, it is amazing how much quicker they look, all of a sudden he’s more powerful. He is really popped off the video from the spring, I think it is going to end up being a good move, if they are playing 35 to 40 per game, that’s better than 70.
Ty Wilson and Devin Drew, if you watched the film, Devin was one of the most improved, and one of the more active, from the TCU through the Baylor game, I thought he got better and better, he’s carried that into spring football, and then Philip Bilidi, once he understands the game, I’m excited to see Nelson, he’s changed his body, he’s at 285 pounds. At end it is Wilson and Mbanasor and LB Moore, and at tackle, it is Bilidi, Drew, and Bradford at tackle.
Riko is the most intelligent football player I’ve ever coached, he is an extremely smart football player, he can sit there and tell you the adjustments. Everyone is looking around and he’s talking. Schooler may be 1A as next smartest football player, they understand how to create false pressure, and he’s obviously over here rehabbing quite a bit.