The Monday press conference with head coach Matt Wells, offensive lineman Travis Bruffy, and linebacker Evan Rambo. I normally link to the hub of all three, but ASAPSports is a bit wonky this morning, so just to Wells’ press conference.
Wells opens up by going over the Iowa Stte loss:
MATT WELLS: Just recapping the game, they started fast. Credit to them. They took advantage of some of our errors, but they also came out and made some plays. We did not match it on offense, which was the disappointing part on our end, especially the first three drives. First three drives get past the 50 and then I think we dropped a ball on third down. Get all the way out to right around the 50 and bog down and then go three-and-out with another drop on third down. So didn’t have very many drops in the day, but we had two key drops on third down. And then you look up after three series and it’s 20 to nothing. And so sometimes teams gotta do that when your defense starts slow, and we did start slow on defense. Haven’t done that on defense in the last several weeks. But we did and we didn’t match it. On offense, and you gotta be able to do that. On the flip side one of the things I mentioned to our players is you look at the Oklahoma State game two weeks ago, and we did that in terms of we played very well on defense until the offense could kind of catch up to it. And then we did and then we kind of took off.
But we didn’t match it on offense. And then I thought we settled down. It’s 20 to nothing, we settle down on both sides and we actually played fairly good. And proud of the guys really for how they played two and a half, almost three-quarters after that.
Then you get to a point in the fourth quarter where we made the pick by Damarcus and it’s 11 minutes to go. It’s 27-17. It’s a two-possession ballgame. We get a first down, move it inside the red zone and then have to settle for a field goal and we missed a red zone field goal. And that had a chance to put it to a one-possession game right there, and we didn’t do it and we didn’t take advantage of it. So Iowa State is a good team. Credit to them. They’re well coached, and they’re tough. They don’t make mistakes. They make you earn it and go the long, hard way and we didn’t do that. So it’s an area or a part of our game that we’ve gotta get better at.
And Wells on the upcoming opponent, the Kansas Jayhawks:
Kansas is coming off a really big-time phenomenal effort against Texas down there in Austin Saturday. You know, after watching, I watched all three phases of the ball against Texas last night, and just, again, phenomenal effort. Those kids played hard. They spilled their guts. I thought they really, really played their tail off and deserved to win. They emptied the tank as some guys say. Anyway, they’re a talented team on offense. You know, they’re led by the quarterback, Stanley. Pooka is extremely, ultra-talented running back, and when that guy gets into the second level he’s got the ability to hit a homerun every single time, as evidenced by his play a little bit Saturday night. But not just Saturday night. You’ve seen it throughout this year. I know one of our defensive guys said you saw it last year. But the guy can hit a homerun.
Four, two, eight and then Robinson five in the slot. That’s four guys that are really talented. They got really good receivers. You look at them on defense, the nickel, No. 1, plays everywhere. He’s a really aggressive, active football player. I like him a lot. Got a big D line, both outside backers, 9 and 5, long, athletic, really long arms. Very athletic. You gotta account for those guys. Lee is really active in the secondary.
So they’re playing with a lot of confidence, and again, like I said, what a phenomenal effort they played with and Coach Miles we have a lot of respect for. Some of those guys on that staff I’ve known for a while. I worked with the D coordinator at one stop. So a staff that I got a lot of respect for. And we certainly need to start regrouping, starting today getting ready for Kansas Jayhawks. So with that I’ll open it up for any questions.
Wells is also asked about the offensive performance and the reason for the sideline screens:
Q. What about this offensive effort do you want to see for this week?
MATT WELLS: You know, in the passing game we had a couple drops like I mentioned earlier, but nothing systemic or anything like that that’s a margin cause. Jett’s gotta play a little sharper in the passing game. We missed on some throws. We got pressured a couple times and we didn’t think we needed to be. You just gotta as we move the ball, we actually ran the ball decent. We had very few — I think we had one zero-yardage run. We had no negative runs, which is I think the first time all year: So we actually ran the ball a little bit better. But you get down 20 to nothing and you gotta start throwing it a little bit more, and we weren’t real sharp as we’d been in the passing game the last couple weeks.
Q. Matt, what went into the — what was the thought process with all the bubble screens and horizontal throws that you all made on Saturday?
MATT WELLS: Well, they gave it to us, they gave it to us. A lot of those were off of the run game, which we’d done earlier in the year. The last couple opponents have been taking that away from us. And Jett did a good job of getting it out there. A couple times we didn’t block very good, a couple times he didn’t throw it real good, and then there were a couple others that were schemed in as well, which made it probably look like it was a little bit more. But some of them were coming off the run game.
To follow up on the bubble screens, this was at the end of the press conference:
Q. Coach, going back to the bubble screen, you mentioned that it wasn’t just one thing. It was receivers not blocking. Does that add to the frustration that it’s not just one thing? It’s not a consistent thing that it’s multiple things going on?
MATT WELLS: That’s coaching. I mean I could answer frustration on everything we have to coach. It’s not just coaching. It’s what we do every day. We wake up, and we come in here and we correct, we encourage. We demand. And so it’s never just one thing. And just because you did it right the next week doesn’t guarantee you the same results without coaching it to the nth degree right now in year one, again, the next week. And in that particular case there were times we threw it out there and we shouldn’t have. There’s times we didn’t block it well. There’s times we really didn’t — we weren’t really on the right track. So it’s a little bit of combination of all those, but not frustration. That’s just coaching, you know, and I mean that sincerely. You just — you know what you’re dealing with every day, and even when it’s good, you still try to coach it and make sure it stays that way. But there’s no sense in getting frustrated because we’re going to continue to do it and it’s part of our offense. So that’s what we are asked to do and so we wake up and we do it every single week and every single day, and we’ll try to do it better even the stuff I think we did well Saturday I think we’re going to try to get better at. That could be termed frustrating if you want because just because you did something good, I’d like to quit coaching that and move on, but it won’t be that way. But I respect the question. But it’s really not. I mean you’re really not. You continue, you gotta coach all facets of it.
And where Jett Duffey needs to improve:
Q. What kind of gains have you seen from Jett with this extended playing time that he has gotten and what do you still want to see?
MATT WELLS: I just think he’s gotta take another step. Saturday there were some good stuff and there were some things that he did outside the framework of the offense, and you can’t do that. And he knows that, and some of that I think Iowa State caused, so again, credit to them. But I think it’s just daily mastering the new things, because there’s going to be new things in every game plan. And it’s week to week. It’s not just — you know, now there’s a book on him. So now as a QB you got two and a half games, two games and three-quarters, whatever it is, on him this year, and so D coordinators start to see him, and he’s gotta be able to practice and take it to another level and then go out and play again this Saturday and against a new scheme and a new D coordinator and all that kind of stuff. It’s just normal stuff playing quarterback.
Wells discusses the fact that the defense blitzed a lot more, but wasn’t able to get to Iowa State:
Q. Considering that Keith hasn’t missed quite a bit and hasn’t gotten guys home.
MATT WELLS: We blitzed in this game more than we did the Oklahoma State game. Nobody probably would ever have known that. We probably pressured six or seven-man 25 percent this last game. Oklahoma State, it was less than 10 percent. We played better effort, played better energy, got on the edges, got after the passer a whole lot better really the last two weeks. Just because of scheme, we always say we try not to use scheme as a crutch, scheme being six or seven-man pressure. So how do you get to the quarterback better? Some of it is probably scheme. We can’t rely on that. We gotta rush Don. We gotta get on edges. We gotta rush better. We gotta rush more efficiently. Guys have to hit home when they do, and when we do free them up, because of scheme, you’ve gotta hit home. You gotta cover a little bit better in the back end. When you don’t cover as well on the back end, the ball is out a whole lot quicker. Therefore you’re not getting home. So it ties hand in hand. We weren’t real sharp on the back end either.
And finally, this was Wells on trying to build what Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Iowa State have built:
Q. Coach, you kind of touched on it earlier in terms of the flat start Saturday, but why has this team been kind of up and down? Oklahoma State, come out on fire; Oklahoma, slow start. Baylor, come out on fire, and then Saturday.
MATT WELLS: I don’t know.
Q. You really don’t know?
MATT WELLS: I have my thoughts that, you know, but it’s all tied to first year, trying to build this foundation and making sure that it’s exactly what we want in terms of Monday through Friday the investment and pouring out and the way you’re accountable in every area of your life, off the field, school, the way you practice, your practice habits, your demeanor. Even the week we beat Oklahoma State it’s still not where I want it to be and where we want it to be. But yet we still made plays, and so you can’t look back and go, oh, yeah, we were really good that week Monday through Friday. It’s been a work in progress and there’s things that have gotten better, but it just takes more guys doing it. I think it takes quite a few guys. I always say 48. That’s not a magic number, 45 guys to win a ballgame. We’re not there yet.
When you play the programs that we’ve played the last two weeks, you know, really four weeks, five, I mean Arizona is having a really good year right now. Just it’s going to the Big 12 the last four weeks you’ve got, Oklahoma State was Top-25 at the time when we played them. Baylor is Top-25. Oklahoma is Top-5. Iowa State today, as they should have been last week. You can’t afford to miss some of the opportunities that we’ve missed. Flat start, really just one out of the last three. But had we played — had we finished the drives on the first two drives and got to midfield and got past midfield, I don’t know, plus 40, I think Saturday may have been different. It wasn’t. Credit to Iowa State. They played really good. They’re really good on defense and offense, and that’s how you build a consistent program. And I want to get to that point where you’re not gift-wrapping teams’ victories. You make people earn them, and we didn’t earn those. I just wish we could have played better out of the gate on offense, just to give the defense time to regroup, catch up, dial back in, because that happens within a season. Good programs can do that, and we’re not to that point yet.
Q. Is the margin for error slim?
MATT WELLS: It is. Very slim. Yeah, every Saturday in this league it’s extremely slim. Kansas had every opportunity to beat Texas, every bit. Saturday, this Saturday, last few Saturdays, it is a very slim margin right now. You look at the teams that are in the top four of the standings, Baylor, Iowa State, Texas and OU and those are the four teams that have kind of won and then you’ve got everybody else just kind of grouped up. And we control our own destiny just like all the other teams do that’s kind of clumped up in that spot here over the last, what, six weeks, with the bye week, five games for us. Some teams may have one more because they’ve already had their byes, but yeah, very slim margin for error.
Notebook. LubbockOnline’s Don Williams has a notebook with some speculation about the quarterback position, with Wells stating that Alan Bowman not being ready for “a long time from now,” and I think that Bowman’s arm was still in a sling on Saturday, so yes, I think that we’re a ways away from thinking about that situation.
Also on the injury front, Adrian Frye is questionable to probable for this week against Kansas.
Patterson Recap. RedRaiderSports’ Billy Watson recaps defensive coordinator Keith Patterson’s media scrum, the full recap is at the link, but here’s a bit on Patterson discussing Kansas:
“Just completely different,” Patterson said. “It’s like they maybe, identity-wise, they were wanting to be a physical, Les Miles-pound-the-rock type team with some spread principles mixed in. Now they just whole-cell run spread. They look like every other Big 12 team in the league now. They got a quarterback with great experience, he’s a senior (Stanley). You got talented wide receivers, you got a transfer from Alabama, transfer from NIU, got a nice slot, inside receiver. They’re extremely talented. It’s like every week in the Big 12, it’s just another challenge. Our focus is not only on Kansas, but it’s also on us trying to correct all those things discussed up to this point and continue to grow as a defense.”