Heading into the Kansas game this year has a little different feel than it did last year. We were hearing that (and eventually was somewhat confirmed) that the team wasn’t preparing for Kansas and that they were just going to out talent the Jayhawks. Following the game last season, Kingsbury said they thought the team could handle whatever it was they did last year and that was not the case. This year, they are heading into the game with a bye week with no mention of taking it easy this week leading up to Kansas.
I think that we got a handle on Kansas, but we focused a lot on ourselves and what we need to do to get better. I thought we had a good attitude. Good energetic practices, it was encouraging.
Last week, Kansas just had a terrible day. They had six total turnovers, which is encouraging for a defense looking to get back into forcing turnovers, but Kingsbury thinks that was not really who they were.
I think the last game was, the last game was not a true statement of who they are as a football team. They had six turnovers, it kind of got out of hand. But Coach Beatty, I know him very well, he does a good job motivating. I thought last year they were more excited to play than us, so they’ll be excited for this game. And I think they’re better than probably their record indicates and probably the scores indicate. They have just had some tough breaks. So we’ll have to play really well to give ourselves a chance.
In relation to last year’s game, Kingsbury had this to say
Yeah, if anybody was there, which they probably were and watched that, it was unenergetic, it was bad coaching, bad playing offensively. The defense played great. Offensively, it was a joke. So we have been working hard to try and correct that this year.
Kingsbury is then asked if he thinks this team is excited to be playing in a little bit different setting, on Thursday night.
Very. Sounds like it will be a great atmosphere. The ones over here the last Thursday night it was rocking and they expect the same thing. So it’s a good change up, a couple games on TV, they know it’s a good showcase to show who they are and so I have felt a good energy this week.
And a couple of injury updates. Kingsbury said that Zach Barnes has been practicing and will play if he’s back to full speed. Connor Dyer is out for the season after having surgery. And there is someone else he is asked about, but I couldn’t tell who it was and it wasn’t noted in the transcript who it was, but Kingsbury expects him to play, whoever he is (maybe Terence Steele?).
Mahomes is asked first about his thoughts on what’s going on surrounding the national anthem, and he shuts it down saying that no one has spoken to him about it, he hasn’t thought about it and it’s not something he wants to get into.
Mahomes is asked about his thoughts on the preparation for Kansas this year versus last year.
Kansas got on us last year, they were way more physical. They sacked me five or six times. They really brought it to us. So we’re not taking them lightly. We’re going to go out there, they have a really good defense, that really, you got the same patch of games because of turnovers and stuff like that, but they have defense that can make plays, so offensively it’s always great to have an extra week to work on what you do.
I’m sure you’ve all noticed that no one in the Big 12 has had just a great start to the 2016. Mahomes has noticed as well and he feels there’s an opportunity to seize the conference, although he feels teams really turn it on as conference play goes on.
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I feel like everybody got off to a shaky start, but I expect everybody to pick it up as the Big-12 goes on. There’s going to be a lot of big games and I expect everybody to really bring it in those games and bring it the rest of conference.
A lot of us Tech fans have been concerned with the offensive line, especially with Steele going down and Mahomes has this to offer on whether he feels like he has to worry about the protection.
No, really the offensive line especially has gotten better week-to-week and the physicality and they’re really taking it upon themselves to be a great offensive line, one that Texas Tech has had for many years now and those young guys are getting more experience. So as we go further along into the season I’m really getting more and more confident in them.
Nelson is also asked about the national anthem and repeats basically what Mahomes said, that there hasn’t been any conversation about it and it’s not something he’s thought about.
Back to the turnover discussion, Nelson is asked about what the defensive backs have been working on in forcing turnovers.
Yeah, we’re definitely attacking the ball or attacked the bye week. Felt like we had good practices. We’re just trying to focus on us and what we can do to get better. Guys giving more effort, guys trying to make plays and not just going through the motions, so that was the main emphasis of a bye week, just having all that effort.
Nelson also mentions that the team has brought back dedicated turnover creation circuits in practice.
Someone brings up the adage that Kingsbury throws out a lot, that when they look at the film it’s never as bad as it seemed, or as good as it seemed and Nelson reflects on that and his views on effort.
Yeah, specifically effort and even people’s eyes, just where they’re looking. Sometimes you turn on the film and you’ll see guys not hustling to the ball whenever it’s clear that he broke for a few yards and guys are just waiting for somebody else to make the tackle. And then there’s plays where guys make an awesome play, in the back field, tackled for a loss or attempting to punch and rip at the ball. But like you said, it’s never as good, never as bad. And we’re just focusing on getting better every week despite who the opponent is.
Finally, back to looking at the schedule, Nelson denies that anyone is looking ahead on the schedule, specifically past Kansas to anyone coming up.
Not at all. We’re focused about what we can do better. Because we know we haven’t played our best football yet. So, we have only been focusing on us, one of the key phrases that we used last week was it’s about us. And that’s focusing on everything we can do better throughout the week. Practice, and hopefully that carries over into the game. So we haven’t looked ahead on anybody. Big-12 conference is wide open. There’s teams that can play, there’s plenty of athletes on the field, so just focusing on what we can do better.
I’m glad everyone made it through the bye week on the winning side and I’m looking forward to this Thursday night match up with the Jayhawks. Guns up!