The theme of the post-game press conference was “I don’t know…we’ll need to watch film.” Well, after having a chance to watch film, Kingsbury’s answers really aren’t ground breaking, or anything us fans didn’t pick up on during the game. We’ll probably touch on some of this in this week’s roundtable, so I’ll try to save some of my comments for that venue.
When asked what Kingsbury noticed from watching film that he didn’t see on the sideline, this is what he had to say:
Yeah, I think some of the protection issues. We had some things that we needed to get picked up throughout the game and we didn’t. Allowed Jefferson to really wreak havoc the whole game. Looking back, we should have some answers for that…He was kind of spying the quarterback. But we had a guy for him. We just did some things that allowed him to have some free runs at Pat that I think made us a little jittery in the pocket and missed a few throws we probably could have made had we had him accounted for.
We know the defensive schemes the past three games have been to rush three, spy Mahomes, and drop everyone else into coverage. The Tech offensive line has struggled in managing even the three-man rush, so when Mahomes is flushed, the defense is ready with someone keying in on him every play. This may be the defensive game plan going forward for all of Tech’s opponents until they can prove they can overcome this.
And then there was this nugget, something skippable and I talked about briefly after the game, that Morris is one of the only coaches in the booth, and when the offense is struggling with whatever it is, a set of eyes in the booth should be able to point to what the problem is.
Q. Did you have anybody in the booth saying anything to you?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, it was addressed. We just consistently didn’t get it fixed for whatever reason.
KLIFF KINGSBURY: No, more of a line issue that had been talked about. We just didn’t get it done.
There is also a question about Mahomes’ performance, specifically about his footwork suffering, and Kingsbury points to Mahomes getting fatigued after throwing the ball 50 or 60 times. I don’t know if this extends to Mahomes bailing on the pocket prematurely as well, but that also tends to happen more towards the end of the game.
A question is asked about how Conversation between Gibbs and Kingsbury on how Gibbs thinks the defense is performing.
Q. When you talk to Coach Gibbs after the ballgame or even on a Monday, what kind of report does he give you with regard to progress that he feels like the defense is making that might be encouraging to him or to you moving forward?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, really just those moments where they gave us the ball back, with a chance to win it. That’s all you can ask for in this league is having the ball at the end with a chance to win the game. There were several times there at the end where we had to have a stop. Their backs were against the wall, and they got the ball back and held a very good rushing team when they had to. Lots of plays throughout the game we’d like to have back, obviously. But those were moments that earlier in the season we weren’t standing up and making those plays.
Q. Does he feel like the defense is grasping his system and learning and developing and achieving progress?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I think so. Obviously there are personnel that we continue to need to upgrade and continue to get older and stronger and play more. But, yeah, I think he feels like there’s been some progress over the last few weeks.
I think we came to the consensus that Gibbs’ defense is to force turnovers, and everything else is secondary. It’s especially ugly when the defense isn’t getting the turnovers, or when opposing skill players are running roughshod over the defense. Giving up 650 yards and 400 rushing yards is atrocious, but there were times when the defense gave the ball back to the offense. There were times when that’s all we asked of this defense, but when the offense is struggling, even defensive stops aren’t enough. We have seen progress in the sense there have been times when the defense forced punts instead of giving up touchdowns. But Kingsbury points to better players needing to be brought in, and that of course takes time (it also deflects from coaching defeciencies).
And this is the million dollar question, what is going on with the offense when the defense forces a stop?
I’m not sure. You’d like to see both sides rise up together, and we haven’t been good at that. When we do get a stop, you’ve got to take advantage of it. In this league, you go back and forth, and you have a chance to get some momentum like we did last weekend, you’ve got to take advantage.
You feel that if the offense had done anything with any of the stops the defense provided, this game could have been different. When Tech stripped Foreman and returned it for a touchdown, there was an opportunity to blow this game open and put the Longhorns in a tough spot. Tech forced a punt on the next drive after the fumble, and then the offense disappears for two and half quarters.
This is the first time in a while I remember Mahomes being made available for this Monday morning press conference. The first few questions he’s asked is about watching film and what he saw and areas he’s identified for improvement. And honestly, I was a little surprised by his answer, and somewhat encouraged.
Q. Did you watch it with Coach Kingsbury?
PATRICK MAHOMES: Yeah, I watched myself and watched with Coach Kingsbury, and kind of talked about it and what we need to do to get better for the next few weeks. We talked about it, and trying to stay true, stay in the pocket, and trust my O-line and trust my receivers to make plays.
Q. Is that hard when everybody’s coming at you? It seems like you’re always running for your life.
PATRICK MAHOMES: It’s really just me trying to make too much stuff happen. The O-line is getting better. A lot of the young guys are getting experience, and just keep trusting in them and keep trusting in what we’ve done the whole off-season and the whole beginning of the season was just trusting them and making the little plays happen.
Q. What is the biggest key in the decision-making process for you that you think in order to strike a good balance between not limiting yourself and keeping those big plays alive but also playing within the system when you can? Is it just the situation, or what do you think you need to focus on?
PATRICK MAHOMES: I think it’s a little bit more about me pressing when we start not scoring. That’s the biggest thing. When we’re going good, it seems like I’m good at making decisions. But a few drives start stopping, three-and-outs, stuff like that, start pressing more, making more stuff happen. I can’t let that happen. I have to just stay with what I’ve been doing all the beginning of the season and just stay true to that.
Something we mentioned earlier was that we can probably expect defenses to stick to script on what has stopped Tech so far this season, and Mahomes echoes that sentiment in what he’s expecting to see from the Cowboys when they travel to Stillwater.
Yeah, probably so. It’s worked these last two weeks. I think West Virginia has a similar game plan too. It’s something that’s worked against us. So we need to find ways to execute against it. I expect to have a pretty good game plan going in this week.
And finally, this question about Mahomes’ first time playing QB for Tech came in Stillwater and it didn’t go too well early on for Mahomes. He’s asked about that time and the growing he’s done since.
Q. There was a play, I think it might have been the first play you were in there, you had fumbled and threw an interception on the same play. Is it just crazy to see your maturation and how it’s gone since you were that freshman?
PATRICK MAHOMES: Yeah, it was the turning point, I feel like, in my career. Just knowing how to work and what I need to do to prepare. Before then I was kind of just here, not expecting to play that much. Then after I got the playing time, I knew I needed to work harder. So that was a turning point. Just to get back out there will be cool. I want to get out there and get a win for these seniors and these guys that want to make a bowl game their last season here.
Nelson is asked about the Oklahoma State offense and how he feels going up against a team that likes to throw the ball, and if he gets excited about the prospect of facing a passing team in that he’s given more opportunities to make plays on the ball.
Q. When you look at Oklahoma State’s offense, what do you see them do?
JUSTIS NELSON: They definitely can throw and run the ball for sure. They have big backs. They have experienced quarterback, they have a lot of deep threats. I know they definitely like to go vertical. They like to toss the ball up. So I think the key is just keeping everything in front of us, making tackles. Making them move the ball consistently just down after down. They’re a well-coached team, and they have all the talent that you need. So we just have to go in there and do our job.
Q. As a defensive back, does that get you excited knowing that they like to throw the ball as much as they do, for the ability to try to get that interception?
JUSTIS NELSON: Yeah, we’re always looking to make plays. The ball’s going to be up in the air, so we have to make those plays when they come to us. Coach Gibbs is going to put us in the right position, and it’s our job to make those plays.
He’s also asked about the prospect of making a bowl game, especially since he’s a senior and this would be his last shot at it. Nelson, if anything, is the model for consistency, at least his mindset. You never hear him break from his usual responses. It’s very “business as usual,” which I can appreciate.
Q. With three games left on the schedule, how much is it in the back of your minds that you have to get two wins of the next three to reach bowl eligibility?
JUSTIS NELSON: Yeah, we’re trying to win every game. I mean, I think we’re doing what we can in practice. We’re practicing hard out there, for sure. The mindset isn’t to just win two games to be bowl eligible, but we’re trying to win every game. We’re trying to finish this season as tough as we can, as perfect as we can.
So we’re practicing for it. We’re practicing hard. We’re getting extra film. We’re changing some things up. So just consistency and not being emotional. Just doing what you have to do to get yourself ready for the next week.
To make a bowl game seems like a herculean task for this team. They need to win two of the final three games to make it – at Oklahoma State, at Iowa State, and versus Baylor in Dallas. Nelson says they aren’t focusing on just winning two, but all three. Oklahoma State has solidified their early-season weaknesses. Baylor looks like it might be ready to crumble, and with Oklahoma this weekend, the Sooners might be able to drive a pick ax into the crack in their rocky exterior. And Iowa State is chippy as always – a tough out, especially in Ames. This team has shown the ability to move the ball. It has also shown the ability to take the balla way from teams and stop their offenses. Tech will need both to happen at the same time to win at least two of those games.