Oct. 22, 2012
Opening statement: We're excited to beat Baylor and get back on track. It had been two years that Baylor had beaten us in a row. It was an important game for us, especially after the disappointment last week, and I loved our crowd. We all really appreciated them. It's starting to be a huge advantage at home. The stadium stampede was very, very good. The players dedicated the game to someone that was sick with cancer for cancer awareness week and played their hearts out for whoever those cancer victims are. I thought it was a very appropriate night for everybody. Proud that our fans came, proud they were loud and proud that the players played so hard.
Phil Knight was in town for the game from Nike, and he spoke to the team on Friday and talked about adversity and overcoming adversity. Admiral McRaven was here - he's a distinguished alum, and he was an honorary captain. He talked to the guys for about 30 minutes on Saturday morning in a very emotional talk about fighting back and doing your best. You're playing a game, but the way that you react to game-type situations is the way that you'll react the rest of your life. So you need to give it your best every play, regardless of what is happening during the ballgame. And then we were able to give Phil Knight and Admiral McRaven game balls after the game. We also had three young men who were stricken with cancer under the ages of 10 in the dressing room, and the players were able to celebrate with them some and give them a moment of joy.
We're No. 18 in the country in turnover margin. We've only committed six turnovers ourselves all year, which is seventh and the fewest in the BCS. We've forced 13 turnovers this year, and outscored our opponents on turnovers 77-10. So obviously the defense needs to keep forcing them and the offense has to keep scoring when they get that opportunity.
The things that the offense did well; we decided to get away from our philosophy of deferring [on the coin toss] and take the ball, because our offense has been playing better than our defense. It's interesting, but we're 100-14 when we score first. So for whatever reason, that does make a difference. So we wanted to get the ball, and that put pressure on the offense to score. They scored on the first play of the game. And then the defense came out and had a threeandout. And we were moving the ball offensively and had a fake punt that we thought was there, [to make] our first down and really got the momentum and the crowd into the game. And then we had the bad snap that led to points for them.
We rushed for 251 yards. We averaged 5.7 yards per rush. Again, we had no turnovers for the ballgame offensively. We were 10 of 16 at 63 percent on third down. Our goal is 48 percent. Right now we're fourth nationally in the country on third down efficiency - 55 percent. We have made 57 of 103 third down conversions, which is an unbelievable stat. Really, really proud of that. So much higher than last year.
Ten explosive plays for the game - five runs and five passes. In the red zone we were 6-for-6 in touchdowns for 100 percent. We're No. 11 nationally, scoring 33 of the 36 trips in the red zone inside the 20 [yard line]. We have scored 30 of the 36 trips - we've scored touchdowns. So unlike last year, we've turned that trend around and we're averaging 44 points a game, which is No. 6 nationally.
We wanted to stay balanced with our run and pass. We rushed for 251 yards and passed for 274, so we've been able to keep that balance. As we said, the two turnovers that the defense forced for the offense turned into 14 points. We didn't have a penalty offensively. And I thought our guys did a great job of slowing the game down and killing the clock at the end of the ballgame, and making sure that we could run the clock out with clock management.
The best offensive lineman of the week was [junior OG] Trey Hopkins. The most valuable player on offense was [sophomore RB] Joe Bergeron.
Things we need to improve; we had two drops, and right now we're having to score at a high level in this league because people are scoring, so we can't have drops. We had two fumbles and we recovered them both. I thought we could have used our clock management before the half better. We were going to try to run the clock down, and we had a player misuse a formation and [sophomore QB] David [Ash] wisely called a timeout. So we scored with too much time left, and they were able to take it down and score. And I thought we should have scored in the fourth quarter. When we got the ball with nine minutes left I thought we would drive the length of the field, like we had done most of the game, and score to get it up to a threescore game. And we messed up a second-down-and-short, and put us in a tough position. And we didn't convert on third down, so I was disappointed in that spot we didn't go ahead and make it a threescore game and get them out.
Defensively things we did well; we did force two turnovers that led to 14 points. We were more physical than we've been. We did tackle better. Not that it's great right now, but it is better. We stopped Baylor on they only made 3 of 12 third downs, which we've been playing great on third down. We had a threeandout to start the game, and had three threeandouts throughout the game. We went eight straight possessions only giving up one touchdown for a stretch at the middle of the game. We kept them from having too many big plays. And in fact, the last drive they used up about the five minutes, that even the tackle by [sophomore CB] Quandre [Diggs] on [Baylor senior WR Terrance] Williams down at the sixinch line took another 40 seconds. So the defense didn't hold them like we would want. There were four downs at that situation, but they also didn't give them an easy score and a quick score like they did West Virginia before the half, or like they did West Virginia at the end of the game.
So we're taking some baby steps here on defense. And the game was basically over unless they got the onside kick, because our defense did make them stay out there and tackle them well and keep them inbounds. We forced two field goals in the red zone. [Senior DE] Alex Okafor is tied for the most sacks in the Big 12, and he's seventh nationally. Alex is playing at a very high level. And [sophomore DE] Cedric Reed played well Saturday night, he and [freshman DT] Malcom Brown, two young guys inside. And Cedric had a sack, so we're proud of the way he picked it up and played. We've picked two passes off and returned them for TDs. We're tied for 26th in interceptions nationally, and Quandre is No. 22 with his number of interceptions.
Things we need to improve on defense; I thought we had a very poor response after the bad snap down to the 9yard line, and Baylor scored immediately. And that was a situation in the ballgame, so we needed to step up and force a field goal or do something to fight to keep them out. We allowed five touchdowns in the red zone, and even once [Baylor senior QB Nick] Florence scrambled away, and we left our guy wide open on the scramble. So we're making some key mistakes in red zone that's absolutely killing us. We shouldn't be giving up the number of points that we're giving up, and we gave up 2-for-2 on fourth downs again. So you look at what's killing us, it's key plays now because we are playing better. We're playing with more intensity. We're stopping the run better at times. But people have made 12 of 15 fourth down situations on us this year, and that's 80 percent, and that's unacceptable. It's killing us, and we've got to do a better job in the red zone. We've got to do a better job on those fourth down situations. We beat West Virginia if they're not 5-for-5 on fourth downs. That's something that has to improve and has to improve fast.
We gave up a double move to [Baylor senior WR] Terrance Williams. We pretty much kept him in check underneath, but he had a double move for an 80yard touchdown, which was a killer. We played a better run defense in the first half. And late in the game we were playing a lot of nickel and dime, and we were running the ball when we knew they had to have two scores to get it back. So they had some big runs late in the ballgame.
I hate again that we gave up the field goal right before the half, and then they came out and scored after the half. We're letting people keep momentum, and [Baylor senior QB Nick] Florence played great, and we've seen four or five of the top quarterbacks in the country here the last couple of weeks. We've got to do a better job of disrupting the quarterback. Even though we had three sacks, [Florence] still played great.
We had two critical penalties that extended drives, and we would have been off the field. So we're just making some foolish mistakes. They were tryhard mistakes that [the players] were really playing hard, but we can't make those mistakes and extend drives. And we've done that all year.
[Senior S] Kenny Vaccaro and [sophomore LB] Steve Edmonds forced fumbles. [Sophomore S] Josh Turner had an interception. Those were key plays. [Sophomore S] Mykkele Thompson really fought one of their offensive linemen for the ball on the last fumble. That was a huge play in the ballgame. And proud of Steve Edmond. He keeps getting better each week, and this is the first time he's the most valuable player on defense.
[Freshman DE] Shiro Davis played Saturday night, making that our 16th freshman to play this season. We're tied with TCU for the most freshmen to play, and that's 34 true freshmen to play over the last two years.
Four of our last five opponents have had an offensive ranking, either scoring or total offense, in the top ten. Oklahoma was the only not one in that group, and they're really good on offense. We've played some of the best offenses in the country. Four of the top five passing efficiency quarterbacks in the country are in the Big 12. So we're seeing some great football offensively played in this league. In fact, last week in the Big 12 there were 48 touchdowns scored and only 47 punts, so there were more touchdowns than punts, which is just unbelievable in this league the way people are scoring points.
Special teams; our kickoff coverage got back to like it should be. We had nine kickoffs and six were touchbacks. We had two tackles inside the 25 [yard line] and really backed them up on poor field position. Our kickoff return, they had five touchbacks. The wind was a factor. That's why we took the wind in the fourth because we thought it would build up based on weather as the night was going. And they had the wind in the third [quarter], and we had to fight them off in the third with the wind being to their advantage. But we had three returns for 107 yards. The 70yard kickoff return by [senior RB/WR] D.J. Monroe led to points and was another great offensive play.
I thought [sophomore CB] Quandre [Diggs] did a super job on their little onside squib at the end of the ballgame. Because it was just kind of in nowhereland back there, and he had to run back and get it. And he made a very, very smart play not trying to pick it up, but get on the ball, because technically the game was over at that time.
Punt blocking return; we only had one opportunity to return one. We had a great chance and we missed a block up inside. We returned it for eight yards, so we need to do a better job with our holdups.
Extra point and field goal; we kicked 8-for-8 extra points so we did a job there. We didn't have to kick field goals, which was great. Four punts for 167 yards. I think we're sixth in the country in net punts. [Senior P] Alex King is doing a tremendous job. We were 42 yards on net punt. He had three punts inside the 20 [yard line], and the last one was key because they fair caught it at the 6 [yard line]. And again, that's a long way from the other end, and it took them a long time to score. And he had another punt of over 50 yards. We thought we had the fake, we were taking momentum into the game, really got the crowd into it early, and we had a snap over his head. And Alex did a tremendous job of running back and dropping on the ball so they couldn't scoop and score and take it in the end zone.
[Freshman PK] Nick Rose was the most valuable player with his six touchbacks. It was a key factor during the ballgame, because they've got good speed on their kickoff return. He's had 18 of 53 kicks go out of the end zone this year, and he's done a tremendous job in that area.
Injury report - [freshman WR] Cayleb Jones is out for the week. He hurt his knee during the ballgame. [Sophomore S] Sheroid Evans also has a leg injury, and he's out for this week's ballgame. Everybody else will be evaluated during the week, and we'll have to watch them closely. They were running the guys yesterday and Sunday night in practice to see how they were doing, and it looked like everybody had made some improvement. We'll just have to see. I don't feel like other than these two young guys that anybody got hurt during the ballgame where they will not play this week.
Kansas is coached by Charlie Weis. I think Charlie is a great football coach, not a good one. You go back and look at his history - he did a tremendous job at Notre Dame. He also was the offensive coordinator with [New England Patriots QB] Tom Brady and three Super Bowl champions. He did an outstanding job for the Kansas City Chiefs. I'm sure that's why they hired him back at Kansas, when he turned them around two years ago. And I think he had an ingenious hire with [defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach] Dave Campo. Everybody here knows Dave Campo. He was a great coach in college. Head coach of the Cowboys. Defensive coordinator throughout the league. And those two know what they're doing. And I think when you look at their scores and you see TCU at Lawrence 20-6. And you see Oklahoma State at Lawrence 20-14, you know that we're going to have our hands full because they're playing better. They're playing a lot better at home than they are on the road right now. They're running the ball well. They've got either six or seven seniors that start on defense, depending on the quarterback.
[Junior RB] James Sims is an outstanding runner. He didn't play against us last year, he was hurt. He was suspended for some games at the first of the year, and he's back now. And they have two really good runners, he and [sophomore RB] Tony Pierson. Three seniors and a junior on the offensive line, and they're keeping the ball for they're No. 13 in the country - keeping the ball for about a 32-and-a-half minutes. So that's what they're going to do. They're going to line up and pound you, and we have not stopped the run well. It's going to be 46 degrees up there with 14 mileanhour winds, and that's the high. Needless to say the last time we played at 11 a.m. we didn't play well at all.
I think we really have our hands full. To win on the road you've got to stop the run. You've got to run the ball. And you've got to play great in the kicking game, and those are things that we will have to do better this weekend.
Defensively they've got five seniors. They're a fourman front. Like I said, [defensive coordinator/efensive backs coach] Dave [Campo] is lining them up in the right places, and they're playing really hard. You start looking at [senior DE/LB] Toben Opurum, we recruited him, and he's their best pass rusher. He's got more tackles for loss, and he's got more pressures on the quarterback. [Senior S] Brad McDougald, who played against us last year, is their leading tackler at safety. [Co-recruiting coordinator/wide receivers coach] Darrell Wyatt
knows most of these guys because he coached up there three years ago. So he'll give us a pretty good idea of what we're lining up against.
We're excited about getting back on track, as I said. We're excited to be 5- 2, and we need to fight really hard to try to get our sixth win this week and become bowl-eligible. On playing a huddle-offense:
We're looking at that right now. I think it's the first time all year both teams will huddle up. New Mexico huddled, I guess, but that's the only team we've had a huddle. So it will not be the same fast pace. [Head coach] Charlie [Weis] is running the ball, being very physical, slowing the game down and trying to keep it away from you. It's going to be a very, very physical point of attack. Front-seven against front-seven on both sides of the ball, [that type of] ballgame. And the weather probably will make it even more that way because we go to [Texas Tech] with weather in October, and we go to [Kansas State] in December. Weather is a huge factor in this league, and it could be a big factor this weekend. On keeping his team motivated:
I told our team yesterday that we're not good enough to beat anybody unless we play our best, and we've proven that. We have to play at high intensity. We've got to practice at high intensity. And we understand that this league is the best it's ever been. They saw how Oklahoma State moved the ball against us, and they didn't against [Kansas]. They know that TCU scored 53 points this weekend against Texas Tech and they scored 20 in Lawrence. So they're not stupid. They can see. And I watched video late last night, all this morning, and it's a different Kansas team at home than it is on the road, and one that will play very well with a bunch of older kids. On high-intensity practices:
We've been intense, and maybe they haven't in some cases, but we've got to continue to be that intense and we've got to do it every day. Like I said, we can't afford to have a Saturday where we don't play at high energy. If you look at us when we're running the ball really well, we're a really good offensive football team. And that's flipped completely from last year when we got our backs hurt in the latter part of the year, and we couldn't run the ball. So when we've run it and been balanced, we've been good. And defensively we've got to do the same. This will be probably the biggest test we've had with just stopping the run, because they line up and run it right in our face. So it's not going to be complicated, and this will be a great challenge for our defense and time for them to step up against the run. On Kansas head coach Charlie Weis:
I think Charlie is a great hire. And like I said, I was shocked that he could get [defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach] Dave [Campo] to come because Dave is one of the best defensive coaches in the country. And I thought it was a tremendous hire for him. Charlie knows what he's doing, and he'll do a great job there. Somebody asked me about turnarounds in this league when you first get a job, and shoot, we're doing the same thing. So it's not easy. You've got to fight, and you've got to get back. And he's got some junior college players. He had the transfer [junior QB Jake Heaps] from Brigham Young last year as a quarterback. He's got [senior QB Dayne] Crist, who's a transfer from Notre Dame this year. He's playing two quarterbacks. Charlie is doing everything right, and now along with everybody else in this league, Kansas is going to be a player, too.On facing a two-quarterback system:
You start looking at them - Crist is a thrower, and he's a guy that Charlie had in the system at Notre Dame. He recruited him, and he knows his offense very well. And they've struggled some offensively. And what Charlie did, and [current Texas and former Kansas co-recruiting coordinator/wide receivers coach] Darrell Wyatt
recruited the young man, he brought in [freshman QB] Michael Cummings, who is a redshirt freshman from Killeen, and he's running the ball so much better. So they're actually running some option and quarterback runs. So defensively as tough as it's been for us. They've got to try to figure out now which offense they're going to see, because we'll probably see both during the ballgame.On the challenge of the Big 12's potent offenses:
I think when you look at what's happened in this league, who would have ever thought as good as TCU is on defense they'd give up 56 points? I mean, it's just happening. Baylor has lost the last two games by scoring 63 and 50 [points]. Those things are unheard of. We lost a game scoring 45. So the game is just crazy in this league right now, and we've all talked about it. But the nohuddle is wearing defenses out, and you're having to spread out.
Baylor is as good as anybody in the country on offense. They're really, really good because they've got weapons at every place, and they ran the quarterback against us, which they hadn't done against anybody else. They ran a couple of different running plays against us that they hadn't run against anybody else. And I'm proud that [sophomore LB] Steve Edmond
and [sophomore LB] Kendall Thompson
are picking it up, and I thought that was the best they had played and helped us because we had some penetration. We did have some negative plays for them. But there's still two balls on the ground. There's still an interception we could have gotten. [Sophomore S] Josh Turner
makes a great play down here in the end zone knocking the guy out of bounds that could have caught a touchdown. [Junior CB] Carrington Byndom
was on him.
We've just got to settle down and start playing better defense. I'm really proud of where we are offensively. We're on track. Last year we were playing great defense. We lost those four seniors, and we're playing Heisman Trophy quarterbacks each week. I'm glad. I'm going up to every one of them, "[WVU senior QB] Geno [Smith], glad you're gone. Thank you, don't have to see you again." It's just been every week. It's been that way. "[Oklahoma senior Qb] Landry Jones, great. Landry, great career. Leave, get out of here." I told [Baylor senior WR] Terrance Williams I was so sick of seeing him Saturday night. "Terrance, great. Have a great pro career, I don't have to see you again. [Baylor senior QB] Nick Florence, seems like you've been at Baylor 12 years. Leave." [Kansas State senior QB] Collin Klein. I mean, they're all over the place. There's senior quarterbacks that hang you so good, they're just doing a great job. It is what it is. I'll be glad when we have an elder quarterback.On providing the defense with balanced feedback:
I think what we're doing is we're being very, very hard on our defense. But when the defense is giving up as much as they are, the public is so hard on them. I've told them get off Twitter. Get off Facebook. Don't read the number. Don't watch TV because they won't be good. It's very predictable. Play better if you want to get back into it. Admiral McRaven made a great point for them. I said, "Admiral, you're an American hero. Do you ever get criticized?" He said, "Oh, every day, Coach. Every day." I said, "So how do you handle it?" He said, "If you don't read the good stuff and believe it then you don't have to believe the bad stuff. So you young guys, don't think that you will not have criticism if you're in a visible position for the rest of your life."
And the other thing is I told them it's cruel, it's hurtful, it's sarcastic, and if you read it it'll bother you. Don't read it. Read more about stopping people, then they'll start bragging on you too much again. Last year everybody was wanting [defensive coordinator/linebackers coach] Manny [Diaz] to take my job. They were wondering why I hired [co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bryan] Harsin. You live in a fish bowl and it changes - not by the game anymore, it changes by the play. I want him fired. I want him hired. Let's keep him. I mean, that's just the way it is out there, and it's not just here, it's everywhere. On becoming bowl-eligible:
It's really important. I think last year we were bowl-eligible on this week because we were 6-2. And then we didn't play as well down the stretch. So this is a key game for us, and we've got tough games that are left. We've got a chance in each one of them. I was surprised that Kansas State whipped West Virginia like they did. They must be really good. They're for real. And I think West Virginia is seeing this league is pretty tough, too. I mean, that's the other thing, because if we had played as well against West Virginia as we played Saturday night, we would have beaten West Virginia. And that's what you've got to do. You've got to keep getting better.
And to follow up, to me, what we are doing is showing our defense they're making opportunistic plays to help us win. They forced the two turnovers. They forced two field goals. They're doing things, and at the same time they can get so much better. I think the offense can continue to be good and make some strides. Our defense can make great strides over the next five weeks because they've had so many great players to play against, and really that should be a confidence builder for them. Because if you've seen the fastballs you've seen the best in the country. And when I say we've got four of the best five passing efficiency quarterbacks in the country, and four of the last five teams we've had have had the best offenses in the country, and Oklahoma wasn't one of them. I mean, we take that for granted and we kind of let it fly by and just cuss the defense. But we've played some great teams, and we've got to do better on defense. But I'm excited about the attitude Saturday night. I thought the guys came out feeling a little better about it, and hopefully we'll have a great week and do a good job in Lawrence.