We’re back up this week with the weekly press conference with head coach Kliff Kingsbury, defensive coordinator David Gibbs, offensive coordinator Eric Morris, LB Micah Awe and RB DeAndre Washington. Let’s get to it.
1. Kingsbury talked about the penalties and he pretty much singled out Tony Morales, who subbed in for Justin Murphy after Murphy suffered a leg injury:
Q. Do you think that there was as many penalties? Is it just people trying to do too much?
COACH KINGSBURY: Probably some of that. I mean that was a very good team. Probably making up — you know, trying to keep up a little bit. And then, you know, we had one guy I think who had four or five himself and hadn’t played a lot and you can’t have that. You gotta be ready to go when you’re asked to come in the game. So just disappointing on that end. We’d made big strides in those areas, the penalties and turnovers, so to play such a good team and then revert back to that was disappointing.
Kingsbury mentions the guy getting 4 or 5 penalties just a few questions later and said that it could have been jitters, but it is about being mentally prepared to play.
2. Kingsbury also talked about the young receivers who played on Saturday:
Q. With all the second or backup receivers that you had to use on Saturday, after you looked at the film, which of those guys had the best all-around games?
COACH KINGSBURY: I think Zach Austin really stepped up. He hadn’t repped a ton with the ones and came in there and made a bunch of plays for us over and over. And Tony Brown had a couple he’d like to have back, but made some plays at the end which was good to get him going. And we’ll see if Lauderdale can go this week, which will definitely help. But with our offense, the way we do things, if you’re one of those young wide receivers, you gotta grow up quick because we’re going to need you.
3. Kingsbury also said that he didn’t think that the team showed any quit like last year, which I think is important. I think if I recall things correctly, that Kingsbury called the team out after last year against TCU:
Q. You guys were in some adverse scenarios last year. You had kind of lopsided on Saturday. You looked in their eyes. Did you see give up like maybe you saw sometimes a year ago?
COACH KINGSBURY: No. I thought they fought. I thought the effort was good. Once again, just didn’t give ourselves a chance. If you turn it over three times in the second quarter against a top team in the country, that’s what’s going to happen. And they know that. We just gotta clean that aspect up. But they tried hard. They fought hard. So that was good to see.
4. Gibbs was asked about setting goals for this team to show improvement and, as you can imagine, he didn’t sugar-coat things:
Q. Coach Gibbs, how do you set the benchmark for your guys on a lopsided affair? Do you make small goals? How do you keep them motivated and keep playing hard?
COACH GIBBS: Good question. I’m going to give my generic answer. We’re going to go back to the basics, the fundamentals and techniques and try to get better in practice every day. Obviously disappointing. They’re really good, and we were not very good. So bad combination when you go play that team. But we didn’t play very good. I’ve been saying that a lot this year. At some point we gotta grow up and start playing good on game day, because you can practice good. You can do all those fancy drills you want to, but if you don’t put it on game film, it doesn’t matter. These kids are amazing. You know, they’ve been through a lot throughout their careers and they continue to come to work every day and try to get better. And you know, I wish I could help them. I’m trying my dangedist and we’ll just keep grinding and keep working.
I do think that Gibbs is struggling a bit here with the performance on the field and how to remedy it. There’s a disconnect here and I think he’s trying to figure it out:
Q. How do you change it?
COACH GIBBS: We’re working right now. I don’t know. Shoot, you know, we didn’t go crazy. We didn’t go blitz crazy like human nature wants you to. Like even the head coach wants you to when you get in those games and it’s frustrating, everybody just go blitz, go blitz, go blitz. We did not. Maybe we should have. I don’t know. But at least throughout the 70-some-odd plays we can watch and those 11 guys can know what they did right, know what they did wrong and you can move on and learn from those reps. They’re valuable reps when you’re trying to build a defense, you know. You know, just keep grinding. That’s all I know to do. It’s football. It’s not that hard. You get off blocks, you make tackles. You cover the guy you’re supposed to cover. But obviously we make it hard.
It’s not supposed to be hard, but it sure has looked that way the past two weeks.
5. We also saw the return of Nigel Bethel II and Gibbs was, well, honest about his assessment of Bethel:
Q. That was the first game Nigel played. I know he had those two P.I. penalties, but what was kind of your assessment of his first action this year?
COACH GIBBS: Looked like Nigel from last year to me, which — he’s actually practiced good the last couple of weeks, and he earned the right to go play again. And he played like the rest of them. Not very good. That’s coaching. I mean he’s in the same positions that he was a year ago, which is totally different scheme, totally different techniques and fundamentals. But things go fast, you revert back to your old habits. We do the same thing as people. So our job as coaches is to break those bad habits and get him to play better, because he’s got the skill set to do it, obviously, but he played like the rest of them.
Q. What are his bad habits?
COACH GIBBS: What are his bad habits? Getting P.I.s, playing with his back to the ball all the time. He practices hard. He really does. I’m not going to beat Nigel up. Shoot, he was in there for a reason because the other guys were so bad. So at least he earned the right to get out there. And those wide receivers are really good. But it’s the conference we play in.
6. And things to be encouraged about, how about LB D’Vonta Hinton:
Q. What did you see from D’Vonta Hinton?
COACH GIBBS: Did good, man. I tell you what, he’s going to be a good football player. I mean he looks like a little runt out there running around. But one thing he can do, he gets off the block and makes the tackle, which a lot to be said around here for that. So he’s going to continue to get more reps and really this is the first game we put him out there and he actually got us excited so we kept him out there the rest of the game. But he’s going to be a really good player here.
7. Morris talked about his young receivers and he had similar things to say about those guys:
Q. Eric, what did you think about your young receivers and how much they kind of played the second quarter, going on kind of how they played?
COACH MORRIS: Not bad. Zach Austin was probably the most consistent of all of them. Really proud of the way he played. Played really fast the whole game, blocked well actually. And the other guys were up and down. Giles got a ton of reps. He was up and down. Made some mistakes, we gotta get corrected. Same thing with Tony. He had some really good plays and then some really bad plays. Just the more they can play, it was great experience for them moving forward. You know, that’s as fast of a team as we’ll play. And so it’s good for them to see that speed on that stage, in a place like Jerry’s world, so hopefully it’ll benefit them. But we need to get those other guys back, too.
Morris is asked again about Zach Austin and he goes onto how he’s progressed his two years (I think) in Lubbock:
Q. (No microphone). Where has he made the most progress, say in the last year or so?
COACH MORRIS: Yeah. I think just confidence, you know, he’s a guy that came in and tore his ACL his senior year in high school, and that first year he was kind of just working back into playing shape. And I don’t think he really believed that he belonged here. I think it took him about a year and a half here to, you know, I think it was a scrimmage this past spring where he caught a ton of balls and I think that was the first time I saw in his eyes after the game that he believed he could do it. And really, to tell you the truth, we didn’t miss a beat. I thought he was as quick, made great reads, great catches. He didn’t bat an eye and made some tough ones, made the right reads on a bunch of stuff. He was open a ton during the game. I mean he really stuck his foot in the ground and separated for some guys in man coverage, which was good so see. So yeah, I mean I was really proud of the way he did, and he’s already come in my office and said that he’s ready to go. And so we took a little bit out of the game plan for that position last week, just because, you know, without Ian there, you know, it wasn’t as much experience there. And so he reiterated to me today he could do it all. But he had a great game.
8. Morris reiterated that the team wasn’t down, that they’re anxious, which is great news:
Q. How is the squad feeling? Are they discouraged, disappointed?
COACH MORRIS: No. They’re fine. They’re anxious to play again, which is good to see. You want to see that in the guys, especially, you know, the guys, some of our leaders and stuff, I think they’ll come out and be extremely motivated this week. They still have a lot of football to play, and we have a lot to prove as a team, and we put a lot of effort into this year. And so you’ll see, you know, we’ll have a great week of practice this week based on some of these guys. They’ve all been up here on their own watching film, asking questions. So we want to be good. And some of our young kids have to continue to step up in some key roles. A bunch of those wide outs are going to play this week and we gotta find a replacement for Justin Murphy whoever that is. And we’ll see how it goes.
9. Morris also was asked about playing Iowa State and ISU does run a 3-3-5 defensive front and Morris alludes to some of the things that you could look forward to seeing on Saturday:
Q. What do you see when you look at the Iowa State defense?
COACH MORRIS: Yeah. They’re a team that’s better than they were last year. You know, they got some guys back on the back end. Their defensive line is better than last year. When we played them they were kind of banged up last year. So we’ll have to be better up front than what we were. We’re not going to be able to move them. They do some stuff schematically try to take away the inside running game. So we’ll have to get some movement up front on some double teams and you know, a little bit different scheme than we’ve seen. It’s a total three down front 100 percent of the time, which we haven’t seen one yet this year. So we’ll do some different things, but we just gotta play fast and execute and getting some completions first down and keeping these drives alive.
10. Seriously, someone this young isn’t supposed to be so down to earth. Pretty much love DeAndre’s answer to this question:
Q. Do you sense excitement with the team still or do you sense — compared to where you were at this point in time last year?
DEANDRE WASHINGTON: Actually I love the morale that the team is at right now. I think early on we’ve definitely been battle tested. It’s been huge to see how these guys respond, especially the young guys. It’s easy to kind of put your head down and go into the sink. After losing two games especially we feel like we could have won those games, but like I said, there’s a lot of ball left to be played and with the Big 12 you can see that anything can happen any given week. So I think the guys will be ready to go and we look forward to getting back on track this week.
And it was good to hear Awe discuss how Gibbs coaches these guys:
Q. You have a really mature perspective about take what we learned from TCU and Baylor. How wide is that mature perspective or is it something that you sort of try to sort of, pardon the word, cheerlead the younger players to do?
MICAH AWE: I mean it all starts from Coach Gibbs. That’s kind of the mentality that he gives us. I mean, like I said, he’s been in the NFL. You can tell he’s been in the NFL because you watch film, no one is going to film thinking he’s going to talk me up. You go into film thinking someone made a mistake here, was it me. And he’s not bringing you down. He’s just letting you understand that you made a mistake once, don’t make it twice. Don’t make it a third time. And it’s just the mentality we have to have as defense. I mean everyone loves offense. You don’t really — most people who don’t know a lot about football don’t go to games for the defense, like I can’t wait to see this defense. You go to the game saying I want to see a lot of scores — a lot of points being scored. So as a defense, you just gotta know like they’re recruiting great players out there, and the best thing you can do is when a play goes your way, make it. If I have a chance to have an interception, I need to get it because that might be a game changer at the end of the game. I mean we all know about that, turnovers are a huge thing to Coach Gibbs. You can be playing a horrible defensive game,but if you make four turnovers, I mean you can look the stats up, that’s probably a win, you know. Just things like that, all of us are kind of just thinking that way because Coach Gibbs has just really led us to have that culture.