Once again, I went back to ASAP Sports for the recap of the weekly presser, featuring head coach Kliff Kingsbury, defensive coordinator David Gibbs, offensive coordinator Eric Morris, RB DeAndre Washington and LB Micah Awe.
Before we get to the press conference, Ben Peck, from Fox34 (@TheBenPeck) talked with Jakeem Grant about his ability and his critics (which I don’t know of any critics, but that’s okay) about his height. I don’t know about you all, but I just wish that Grant had just a little bit of confidence in his abilities (I’m kidding of course, Grant’s awesome).
As far as news, Baylen Brown is day-to-day this week and if he doesn’t play this week, he will play against Kansas State next week.
1. I think Kingsbury is searching for a way to get these guys over the hump in winning one of these close games against a ranked opponent (close is relative here).
Q. How do you view the top — you mentioned Oklahoma State making more plays in the second half than you all did. Is there a way to coach to get that started to get over the top?
COACH KINGSBURY: You just have to do it until they get than sensation I guess. It’s nothing you can coach out of them, I don’t think. We just have to do it. We had a couple opportunities this year to win games late and haven’t done it against highly-ranked teams. So it’s something we’ve got to keep working on and find ways to do it at the end.
2. This is about as critical as Kingsbury will be an he is actually letting the outside receivers pretty much have it, Devin Lauderdale in particular. I don’t know if this is one of those situations where if Kingsbury isn’t talking about you, then he’s not as concerned about you (not as a person, but as a football player).
Q. Your guys on the outside didn’t have very many catches last week. Do you think that’s more of Oklahoma State’s coverage trying to take that away or do you think it’s a combination of what we kind of think that was?
COACH KINGSBURY: Yeah, we’ve got to get better outside, really. They have good secondary. They have good corners. But we took some shots and didn’t make plays on footballs, and we have to improve at the outside receiver. It’s kind of come back to bite us again.
So that’s the only — over the last three weeks, we’re going to see a lot of pressed man coverage on our face and challenge those guys, and those guys got to step up and make plays.
Q. Is Devin okay physically?
COACH KINGSBURY: Yes, sir.
Q. What do you attribute to his lack of skill relative to the second half?
COACH KINGSBURY: I think he’s got to grow up. He’s got to practice better, be more consistent, same things continue to show up on game day, and he’s got to get better. We’re depending on him to be a better player, and I think he’s got to mature on and off the field.
Q. What did you tell him about those unsportsmanlike kind of things? Did you talk to him about that?
COACH KINGSBURY: Yeah, that’s a private conversation and that’s been handled.
3. Some folks on twitter were upset that Kingsbury didn’t really criticize the defense and I don’t get that at all. For all of the things to care about, this is really low on my list of things to care about. Not only that, Kingsbury isn’t going to throw the defense under the bus because that’s not his style. Not only that, but I tend to think there would be more fake-outrage over Kingsbury being critical of something that he doesn’t really have his hand in directing. This is Gibbs’ baby and I’m fine with Kingsbury’s attitude of just needing to score more points and that the Big 12 is an offensive conference.
Q. You guys have the second and third highest scoring totals, but you’re still losing in games this year. Do you feel like it’s the way the defense is playing? I know the turnovers have played a role, but do you feel like you have to coach almost 60 points a game?
COACH KINGSBURY: No, really more than anything I think it’s how the league is set up. You look over the history of the last three, four, five years all those elite teams have had those games where you shootout and just get outscored. The offense is very good in how it’s set up. So I don’t think there is a certain number. I always look at it from the offensive side, should have scored here, should have scored there. The defense on Saturday in the third quarter gave us, I think, three times in a row the ball back to go up 17 and we didn’t go do it. So I look at that more than anything else.
4. Morris is actually first in the video, but Gibbs is usually first, so that’s what I went with. In any event, Gibbs affirms here that he has free reign over the defense and that this is on him. Gibbs has noted early in the year that the second halves were defensive adjustments, although he said he wasn’t doing anything different, while the past few games, the second halves haven’t been very good. Yes, the team has to do a better job of playing a complete game.
Q. (Indiscernible) on your defensive blocker?
COACH GIBBS: I think so. I think so. These kids are resilient, and I say it every week. They played hard. They did it again. I say it every week. For whatever reason they go crazy and didn’t finish the game obviously with all those big plays at the end of it, which is embarrassing. It’s not acceptable.
It comes back to me. Coach Kingsbury gives me free reign the of the defense, and I can call whatever I want and run whatever I want. Therefore, the product out there on the field is a direct reflection of me, which is not acceptable.
So go back to work this afternoon. We’ve got three games left to get better. I say it every week. Hopefully at some point we’ll learn how to play a complete game. To start that fast offensively and get a turnover early and then not finish it, it makes no sense. But it is what it is. It happened, and we’ve got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
5. Gibbs takes responsibility here, and also for the Tevin Madison deep play with the OSU receiver, James Washington, and said that this was a bad call on his end. On this particular question, Gibbs is asked about preparing for a dual-threat quarterback.
Q. What were the challenges in terms of the two quarterbacks and preparing for different offenses, I guess, when they’re running it?
COACH GIBBS: It’s a problem, but everybody can do it. We go against Pat every day in practice, and even though you don’t see a lot of the quarterback run game in the games, we’ve been prepared for it just going against spring ball and two-a-days. And I think the kids understand by the call you make and what you’re trying to get done. Just didn’t execute it.
Obviously made some bad calls at the wrong time, and I continue to say it’s my job to make them understand the differences of who is at quarterback and what schemes are coming, and we’ve got to do a better job.
6. Gibbs talks about not seeing the mental toughness for the team and maybe this mental toughness is something that takes time to build, just as much as players learning where they need to be, but also being mentally tough to keep going to the point where the team is able to bounce back mentally. Also discussed is the idea that Gibbs seems to have really high expectations of Dakota Allen and he really didn’t blow out his knee, but he acted like he blew out his knee and just fell down.
Q. Was fatigue at all a factor?
COACH GIBBS: I don’t think so. In some games I felt like it was this season, but against them I didn’t feel it was. I just, I don’t see the mental toughness when the game’s on the line. No matter what happens throughout the course of the game you’ve got a chance to go stop them and give your offense the ball back to win the game and we give up an 80-yard bomb which is not acceptable. So, no excuses.
COACH GIBBS: I don’t know. You got any ideas? Come help me. It’s an everyday process. This defense does not get built overnight, and I would love to do nothing more than to go out there and play great defense. Just right now, it’s not happening.
Q. Would you like to see the young guy make the big play?
COACH GIBBS: Yeah, good for him. He about blew his knee out when he stumbled. Nobody tackled the guy. I told him to act like an athlete, please. He’s getting better every week. It’s just not showing on Saturdays.
Q. How do you keep your guys from feeling defeated from a performance on Saturday?
COACH GIBBS: You go back to work. You have three games left with a chance to go to a Bowl game, a chance to win eight football games, which, you know, you’ve got to go to work. If we don’t go to Morgantown and play better defense, we can get embarrassed again.
So we’ve got another challenge. I think our kids will respond. I don’t see them quitting, which is a good thing. I’d like to see them play better and not quit, but we’ll get back to work this afternoon.
7. Eric Morris is asked about scoring more points in the first half than the second half and his tone was a lot more short than his normal tone. He obviously doesn’t seem happy about the performrance of the offene, although I think it’s tough to be too critical. Both Kingsbury and Morris mentioned the 4th down fumble and the interception in the redzone as plays that affected the team.
Q. What did you think about you guys scored almost 40 in the first half and then 15 in the second half. What was the biggest difference for you in the second half?
COACH MORRIS: The biggest thing was the two turnovers. You’re not going to score in this league. That’s a good defense. You’re not going to score every time you touch the ball. So we had a couple bad drives there in a row when the defense stopped them, which we’re remarkably bad about playing together on this team.
We had a couple opportunities. I think it was 31-14, and we had a chance to get it back. Then when they gave it to us, we could have gone up a couple scores there to start the half and didn’t execute and didn’t complete the balls or get the run game going like we needed to. But I was proud that we responded there in the fourth quarter. Put together some good drives and responded.
The two biggest plays is the fourth down fumble and the interception in the red zone offensively speaking.
8. A second question about the outside receivers not being good enough and now, we see Jonathan Giles on the outside and Morris mentions that he’d like to have some more size on the outside, but ultimately, the outside receivers have to be better.
Q. Speaking of, where are things with your outside receivers right now thinking about reps going forward?
COACH MORRIS: Someone’s got to step up and make plays. We’ll move Giles out on certain formations to see he’s got great ball skills and jumping ability to go track the football. You’ll see him a little bit on the outside this week, not full-time moving, just kind of move some guys around a little bit.
We need some length. We’re missing Dylan with that 6’4″ body. When you do get that coverage, that you can throw it up and they have the ability to jump up and go get it. So we’ve got some shorter guys out there right now. So we’ve got to start winning on these posts and vertical balls.
Wanted to get one other quote where Morris talks about Patrick Mahomes, who says made two bad reads, but on 15 other plays, he made a play where maybe some other quarterback wouldn’t have been able to make a play. Also talks about how Mahomes is working in the filmroom and correcting flaws.
Q. As Pat continues to grow and the defense has struggled late in games, what is your best way to make sure he doesn’t try on do too much?
COACH MORRIS: Yeah, I don’t think you say anything to him. You can point to about 15 — I mean, he made one or two bad reads, but you can point to 15 plays that if we don’t have him back there, we’re in some deep bad situations.
He’s a gamer. He makes great plays with his legs. He still sees the field when he’s moving around. So, I think you continue to let it be him and let him watch the film and learn from these mistakes that he’s making.
He’s done a great job all year of correcting stuff. His pocket presence was a lot better. He was square in the pocket this week which Coach Kingsbury I know harped on big last week and has dropped some things. So I think he made some big-time NFL throws.
The third down comeback he throws to Reginald Davis is remarkable. So he’s doing some great things, continues to get better. So just let him continue to get better each week but not take away from the good things that he does do.
9. Morris is also asked about West Virginia and how they are a physical team. I’m not sure what “Castro” is or who that is, but Morris is complimentary of the WVU secondary.
Q. With the injury at safety, what is now the strength of this West Virginia defense? What are you concerned about?
COACH MORRIS: I think they’re the most physical team I’ve seen on tape up to date. They run and hit. Their linebackers are incredible. They trigger. They’re fast. They make good hits. They make plays in space. Their defensive line, they’ve got a nose guard that’s played a ton of football for them. That’s going to be tough to block in there.
Castro has his hands full. I think they do a good job on the outside at corner too. They make a lot of plays out there. So we’ll have our hands cut out for us. They’re a tough football team. They’re well-coached and they like to hit people.
So we’ve got to be prepared to step in there at their house. They play really well at home, and we’ve got to fight with them.
Q. How do you think their secondary as carried on with the loss of Karl?
COACH MORRIS: He’s an irreplaceable player. He was probably the best defensive back in our league. He brings so much to the table. He’s all over the place. He’s a ball hawk. He’ll hit you and he’ll intercept it. Great coverage skills. He’s one of those guys that’s really special and the guys that get paid a lot of money for doing it on Sundays. He has that kind of ability. But their next guy is a good football player. Karl Joseph, is that his name? Joseph, yeah, he’s irreplaceable.
10. DeAndre Washington has the right attitude, that it is a day-to-day proposition and not to get ahead of anything. The good thing about DeAndre is that he’s got the right attitude and he doesn’t get down.
Q. You guys have played elite teams in the Big 12. You’re all done with them now. What’s it going to take to get over the hump and win those games in the future?
DeANDRE WASHINGTON: In the future? Oh, Coach Kingsbury, he has a great plan. But really it’s a week-in, week-out basis. You can’t look so much at looking at the whole season. You have to take it a day at a time and play the process. Everything else will take care of itself.
Q. What is the mood of the team now after you led the number 12 team in the country at 10 points at halftime and then didn’t pull it through in the second half? How does the team feel?
DeANDRE WASHINGTON: It was tough. Going into that locker room after the game was over. But like I said, we have an opportunity this week to make amends and finish the season off on a high note.
And Micah Awe talks about Gibbs in the meeting room.
Q. He keeps his sense of humor while talking to us. What’s he like, Gibbs in the meetings after games like these?
MICAH AWE: Same thing. I mean, when you lose a game the way we did with so many roller coasters, you’ve got to think, you know, someone’s not living right or something like that. Because things just don’t go our way sometimes and you’re just wondering how did that happen? So that’s how he keeps the humor.
Because, you know, this defense between the difference between this defense and last year’s defense is there are a whole bunch of guys who want to be good who are getting better every week. I mean, practices are harder than games to me these past couple weeks because I’ve been really trying to improve myself.
That’s all up to Coach Gibbs because he has that business, that next level mindset, if you don’t get better, someone else will get better than you. And that’s what I’m trying to do.