Oct. 23, 2012
Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin
On the challenge of facing the Kansas defense coached by former Dallas Cowboys head coach Dave Campo: Absolutely. You said it. Obviously just looking at them, the experience that they have on the defensive side as far as the coaching goes is very good. You know, we've just got to go out there and execute well. That's what we have to do. Schemes and all those things, they'll be dialed. They'll know where to go. They'll have guys in the right positions and things like that. That's fully expected, so we just have to go execute. It's about matchups. It's about oneonone battles. I think that's the important thing this week that we have to focus on in practice.
On RB/WR Daje Johnson: Well, obviously the first play of the game was pretty impressive. And really the most impressive thing when you go back, it's Daje because he's the one that has the ball in his hands, but you look at M.J. McFarland is the one that set the edge there. And then you've got Mike Davis driving his guy out of bounds, and Jaxon Shipley had a cut in the play that really sprung it, and then Daje did his job. He just ran the ball, and he ran fast. That provides us just another element in the run game is Daje coming on as a back, as well. He's played wide receiver. He is kind of that T & Z position that we've talked about before. He's really developing into that, provides us with just a different dimension back there and you could see that on the first play.
On referencing last year's Kansas game for preparation this year: Not a lot. It's different schemes. I think some of our players will look at the matchups they had last year because some of the players they went against are back, so they can watch what they did against them. That's obviously something to look at. Schematically really not the same. Not the same team defensively. They're flying around. They've got guys coming up, safeties coming up playing the run. They're doing a great job in my opinion, and so we've got to make sure that we're looking at this year's team and fully expect that the games they play their very best in, that's what we're going to get.
On why Kansas plays better at home: You know, I don't know. There's always different dynamics that go into things with teams. I think not having played there but knowing some and talking about it, I think the environment there is very good. They have the advantage at home. That's one thing. I think most people want to have that, and I think they do. We have to expect that. We're going to prepare for that, and like I said, the one thing we fully know is that we're going to get their very best. It's all about us just taking care of that this week in practice and not taking anything lightly and doing our jobs to the best of our abilities. So we're prepared for that.
On playing in cold weather: You know, the weather, if it's not snowing, it's just cold - guys have so much gear, you don't get cold anymore. You've got everything you want. You're not freezing by any means. Wind can be a little bit of a factor. It does factor in some of the deeper throws. It probably factors more in the kick game where it factors in. But then you start getting into rain and snow, that does provide a different element there. But the wind, the cold, that shouldn't change anything that we're doing.
On changing his play-calling script after scoring on the first play: No, we went back to play one again because it worked is what we did. But generally those plays that we script are going to be first down or second down calls. You get into third down you're kind of off that. You can't predict the third down, so you've got to be able to jump into that. But what we do is, as the game goes on, those type of plays, just mark them down and they're successful so you want to come back to them. So we came back to it again just to see if we could hit another one, and we got some positive yards. And then we were onto our script from there. Usually there's 12 plays that are in there scripted. Not all of them get hit because you sometimes figure one of them in there is kind of a hitormiss, just based off what you're seeing. And a lot of times it's like, that ain't going to fly right now, we'll wait until second half just because the defense is showing us something a little bit different. But I think more importantly it just gives the guys a plan. I think the guys really care about the first two, three plays, and then after that we're into the game. But it gives them something to visualize the night before and prepare themselves for Saturday.
On if he knows Kansas head coach Charlie Weis: I've never got to actually pick his brain, but I've watched and studied a ton of his film, when he was with the Patriots and just everywhere he's been. He does a lot of things that I think are very good. You know, very creative in the way he uses personnel, tight ends, different things. So being at Boise and over the years, I'd always wherever he was at try to find film that he had, and that was my offseason project to study the Patriots. Study where he's at, what he was doing, Notre Dame, all those things, because he's obviously done some great things and been very successful with his offenses.
On if he has any extra incentive to prove something to Weis: No. I mean, not from that standpoint other than just a lot of respect, you know, just from what he's done. Not knowing him personally, just professional in the business and all that and watching what his teams have done and how he's prepared his teams and offenses and things like that, it's impressive. What I do know is those guys will be on the offensive side, as well. I don't study the offense, but they'll be prepared. They'll have a good game plan. They'll be explosive. They'll do things. That's what he's always done, so I'd expect that, and I'm sure our defense does, as well.
On if he has set fourth down plays: There's a couple. There's not many. We'll have a couple that we kind of keep in our back pocket for those situations on fourth down. But a lot of times it's really what's working for you, what are you seeing in the game plan. And it might come from your second down or third down calls in the pass game that you just feel like and I do think that in those situations, too, it's a lot about players, as well, more than just plays. And so who you're going to try and get the ball to in that fourth down situation because you want to make sure that it's going to a guy that's going to make a play for you. And so we'll have a couple set aside. But we don't have a whole handful of them. There's two specifically, and then the rest come from the game plan.
On preparing differently for an 11 a.m. game: We have already emphasized it. Nothing that we can do from a time standpoint other than we've got to get our rest, guys got to get rest this week, guys got to take care of their bodies. They've got to eat right, sleep right. We've got to do all the little things not just in practice but off the field, as well, to make sure that we're fully rested, fully prepared and ready to go and prepared 11 a.m. Now, the night before, they'll obviously know that we've been in that situation, so we'll emphasize it again about getting in bed, and we wake up, the mindset, you've got to be you've really got to be ready to go when you get up. From what we did at Oklahoma, because of the start time, that wasn't something that was I think the issue. However, it is an 11 a.m. game, we played that and we did not play well the last time, so this is a chance for us to go and play well during the early game.
On sympathizing with Big 12 defenses about the yards and points put up by Big 12 offenses: I'm only worried about us, period. I don't know, I've got enough on our plate with what we're trying to do. We're not there by any means. We have a long ways to go offensively, and so we've just got to concentrate on that and make sure we're doing our jobs.
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny Diaz
On the win against Baylor: Well, first of all, you're happy to get the win because you play the game to win it, and so ultimately that's the goal of the team. What we see is that we did enough things to get us beat, but then you also show them that you did enough things that enabled you to win the football game. As I've said before in good times and in bad, the tape never shows us whether we win or lose, it just shows us what's going on. And you have to see the things where you see improvement, you try to fan those areas to try and keep it going, and that's really as simple as it gets.
On where he thinks the defense needs to improve: Well, I think it comes down to our consistency. I mean, we can play well in spurts, we can play well at certain spots, and we just have to consistently get better. Guys that are making plays, but then have a couple not as good. So I think that's what it comes down to is we just want to go out and play a total ballgame, to make it easier on our offense to try and win the football game.
On the youth of the defense: We're halfway through the season, so what we're telling them is we have to stop being young. It's time to get some of the urgency, and I think what you see realistically when you analyze the tape is those guys that made three exciting plays and then 10 plays earlier in the year that you were not so excited about. And every week that number is starting to turn, and they're starting to make more plays that you're getting excited about and less plays that kind of drive you crazy. That's part of the maturation of a college football player.
On the defense making enough plays to win: Well, the one thing I know about our defense is our defense is a closeknit unit. They're tied together, and they still believe in one another. And that's been a feat because obviously they've been aware of all the negativity surrounding them. They want to fight for one another. We told them in this game - the thing I was most proud of this game - we told them that really our expectation was them to just play as hard as they could play for 60 minutes because Baylor is going to get yards. I think they had had 500 yards every game going up into the TCU game before us, and they only snapped it 54 times on TCU. If they would have snapped it 85 times or whatever they did against us, they probably would have had 500 yards. But we just wanted to see we wanted to see their fight. We wanted to see their aggressiveness. We wanted to see a better strike, not being as tentative on the football field, and those are the things that we saw. Again, like I said, we have plenty that we still have to correct, but I did see guys with more aggression. I thought we tackled better, and those are things that we can continue to now move on and continue to get better.
On preparing for a Charlie Weis offense: I think at this point if you play them I think what they've done through the first half of the season will be telling in terms of what they're going to do. Like any good coach, you have to operate in terms of what your personnel is. They have a stable of running backs that I think match up with anybody in the Big 12. They've certainly done an outstanding job of showcasing those guys. They've played multiple tailbacks on the field at one time. They'll line tailbacks up with the wide receivers. They do a great job of getting the ball in the running game and the throwing game. I think he's got them playing to the best of their personnel right now and sort of hitting his offense as to what they can do well.
On the challenge of stopping the run: It's a different challenge overall, but it excites me, to be honest. Obviously I believe in our run defense. Our players believe in our run defense. They know what it works. They've seen it works. They've seen it lead the conference in rush defense, so they know we can stop the run at this school. As a coach it's just a matter of just continuing to be consistent to get the guys as trained in it as they possibly can be.
On DB Josh Turner: I thought Josh made some really big plays in the game. Obviously his interception really changed momentum at that time of the game. Made some nice tackles in the open field, big third down stop on a pass breakup. So that's kind of what I was talking about is those are the guys you know are starting to make more and more plays, and then what you work on as a coach is the things that are probably harder to see is to continue to eliminate the negative plays. The plays that he wouldn't be proud of or that we wouldn't be proud of to put on tape. But those plays are getting less week in and week out with guys like Josh and the other guys in his class. I thought [LB] Steve Edmond by far played his best game. I thought when he was in the game we really played well. [LB] Kendall Thompson, [DE] Cedric Reed. Cedric came through with a couple big plays, got a sack. There was another play where they threw a screen and Cedric runs out there and strains the ball and knocks the heck out of the guy. And as a coach those plays get you as excited as the sack because those are the plays that you really want to see young players make. So again, that's what brings us back is we believe in this team. This defense believes in each other, and I think that's really an important deal. I don't think that they would fight for each other the way they do if that wasn't the case. The issue is just persistence.
On starting fast: I think if that was an issue then I don't think we would have gone out there and gotten a threeandout. I think one thing that we're aware of with Baylor - Baylor had some goofy streak that they had scored on the second play of the game six or seven times over the last two years. It's kind of what they want to do. They want to jump on you just to kind of be the first one to throw a punch, I guess. Now, obviously the fact we scored on the first play was sort of icing on top. But I think our guys were good because bang, we score on the first play. We run out there, we go threeandout. I thought the way we started the game was excellent. I thought our guys were into it.
On players adapting their mindset to the reality of high potent offenses in the Big 12: You know, it's funny. I've said it. The whole time I've been here I've always said what we want to do is we just want to win the football game, as a defense. It was much more fun when the story was if the offense scores 14 we have to hold them to 13. But the same thing is still true, and that's what you want the players to understand. The difference in the way we felt yesterday as opposed to the previous two Sundays was night and day because these guys college football you work really, really hard, and the way you feel afterwards gets determined by when they count up all the points, who's got the most. You want the guys to win. What you want the guys to understand is how winning occurs and what things that go about winning. So what we look at the most is what are we doing that's standing in the way of us winning easier so that, again, that would be well, let's see, is it third down defense? No, we've been great on third down defense. Fourth down defense? We've made mistakes on fourth downs, penalties on possession downs. You can start counting points off the board pretty easily when you start saying, third down penalty on a drive leads to a touchdown.Fourth down penalty on a drive that leads to a touchdown. Forced fumble that rolls in the end zone that we had a chance maybe outside the gap for, and we don't get it down there. So bang, that's 7, 14, 21. You can make things kind of turn around real easy, red zone defense, giving up five touchdowns in seven trips to the red zone. These offenses with the skill that they have are going to get yards. The Big 12 offenses in this day and the pace at which they play with are not going to get 250 yards of offense. What they can't have is all the points that they're getting, so how do we prevent all the points? Again, that's where we look at the critical plays that tie into that.
On if he has adjusted his own parameters: I don't think so because I think the formula still works. I mean, obviously you have six touchdowns, you're not going to force seven turnovers. But we have to find a way to not give up six touchdowns, and we can do that. And some of the drives where we made them kick field goals turned out to be the difference in the ballgame. But that's where we know we need to be better, and we can be better. It's just in terms of going through the process of getting better, you know what I mean? That's where that's at.
On if he feels pressure giving up so many points and yardage: The only thing I feel is just for my guys. Like I was saying, coaches think about the players more than the players think about the coaches. Sort of just losing your brain. How do I keep hammering away at Kendall Thompson? What's going to be the way to get it in to Steve Edmond, to understand this concept? I mean, as a coach that's all your focus is about is how do I get my players - and that's where it starts either at your position or the whole defense - how do I get my guys better? What's going to be the one thing? Do you hand them a piece of paper? Do you show them a video? Do put it on a Power Point? What is the one thing? The funny thing is the pressure to win or play well when we went and played Baylor last year, we had come off of a five or whatevergame streak of playing as good a defense as anybody in the country. When we went and played Baylor this year, we came off a four or fivegame streak of not playing as good a defense. I didn't feel any different going into the game. They presented a very stern test. The pressure to stop them didn't change. It's just about you as a coach. And I think that's what the players respect because then they understand. They understand that you don't change based off of what's going on outside, and you just want them to know I'm for you. And if you can look the players in the eye and say, "I'm for you, no matter what. I'm for you when everybody was loving you, I'm for you now. How do I get you better." And that's the cool thing because what's cool is you know it's going to turn because you've seen the movie too many times, and you understand the way it works. This is no different than parenting your child. This is no different than teaching the kids in school. It is simply the matter of persistence, and what is fun for a coach is that that's not the coolest thing now. Staying after it and continuing to find a way even when the results and the shortterm aren't always there is not what the cool thing to do now is. The cool thing is to run and scatter. The cool thing is to hit the reset button on the video game. There's a million things saying stop, cut bait, change course. This is a game that says, "No, don't flinch. Stay after it. Find a way. No matter what's happened in the last four weeks or five weeks or seven weeks, we've won five games and we've lost two. We've beaten two teams this year that we did not beat last year. So we're ahead of last year's team right now. We have to continue to keep fighting on.
On stopping the opponent on fourth down: You would think that fourth down and third down wouldn't be all that different in terms of how we are personality wise and how the offenses are personality wise. I think back to the other night - we sack them on fourth down but we're offsides. And that was disappointing because they were a hard count team, and they got us on that one. The next fourth down they convert on was kind of a sham. There's three guys that are moving. The running back is stepping up talking to the quarterback. The left guard is talking to the center, and the tight end is turned around talking to the back. And Carrington Byndom has got the field flat, and he's sitting there watching all the chaos in the backfield. And the quarterback just gets the ball and throws it out there. It's really just kind of a travesty and mockery to be honest. Anyway, it's babang, boom, off they go, and the next play they get a long pass and off we go. As with anything, you would always look at it systematically, say, "Gosh, are we doing one coverage? Are we blitzing? Are we not blitzing? What's going on? But it's been a lot of different things. And again, your possession and down defense is never going to be the same on third as it is on fourth.