Oct. 25, 2011
Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin
On David Ash’s improvement during the bye week: He did [improve]. Both of those guys did. Obviously from that experience David had in the game, there are a lot of things to go back and look at, like what he did well and what we can correct. We tried to work on that during the bye week. I thought Case [McCoy] has had a great week of practice during the bye week. It has been one of his best. Those two guys continue to compete like all of our guys right now on offense. That’s just where we are. We will continue to compete. We will continue to put the guys out there that have great weeks of preparation and are prepared for the game. That’s just how we feel and how we do it.
On going back to the two-quarterback system: We’ll see how we go into this game. We still have three more practices here. Our whole goal at the quarterback position and the entire offense is to improve each and every week. We know we are going to make mistakes, and we want to make new ones. Those guys continue to get better and there’s still a lot of things in there we have to coach up, but I like how they are competing. I really like both Case and David’s mentality right now. They are excited to be out there. They want to get back out there and play. They want to get out there and prepare, and both those guys are doing a great job of just being examples from that standpoint for everyone else.
On if he is concerned about rotating quarterbacks: Every team and situation is a little bit different. Right now, we mix and match a lot of guys, and I’ve done that for a long time. At the quarterback position, everyone wants to have that one guy solidified, but we’ve also got to make sure that we are putting the best guys out there on the field in the best situations we can. That’s also at the quarterback position as well. So this week as those guys continue to compete and practice well then we will look at where we are. If that’s a series or two or that’s more time for one guy than another, it is based off how they prepare for this game.
On improving scoring offense in the red zone: We spent more time this week in the red zone. We will continue to do that, just emphasizing that area of the field. We’ll find a way to get down there. It’s a matter of finishing those drives in the end zone. Just the mentality [that] we will spend more time in that area there. That mentality of, “There it is. We’ve got to get the ball in and execute down there in the red zone.” Things get tighter. That’s where you’ve got to be on your game is in that area. So we just have to keep emphasizing that. We have to find ways to finish.
On growing pains: There is always going to be issues whether you are a veteran team or an inexperienced team right now. We’ve prepared for those situations, and we felt like going into the game we had the right answers. We executed well in practice and now it’s just got to happen in the game. I wouldn’t count on it being inexperience or anything like that. It’s just a matter of everyone doing their job. All 11 guys are in that area there and making sure that our mentality is getting in the end zone and find a way to finish.
On reducing turnovers: The number one stat that we have up on our boards is turnovers. We know that if we don’t give them up, our defense is going to have opportunities to get them. That’s really the number one key in football is the turnover ratio. If we can win that battle, we have a chance to win the game. It just comes down to the quarterback position of making smart decisions. If it’s not there, whether it’s a deep ball you really, really want to throw or you don’t really get to see where the defender’s at and you’re not quite sure, throw it away. We reserve the right to punt in those situations there. Those are some of the key things to play in that position is you got to go out there and manage the game. When your opportunities are there take advantage of them. And when they’re not, you have to have the ability within yourself to throw it away and play another down. Give our defense or our special teams an opportunity to go out there and make a play for us.
On his emphasis on the vertical game: I think that’s a big part of what we do. We have tried to take advantage of some of those opportunities and when you do that you have to have a little bit more time in protection. You’ve got to get guys down the field on the safeties and the corners and those types of things. That will be a part of what we do each and every week. We will try to move the ball down the field. With the way that we are able to run the ball in certain situations, we are going to try and take advantage of getting some one-on-one matchups. We got to keep working on that. We took a couple of shots and haven’t hit them. Now it’s just a matter of hitting those and getting those big chunk yards.
On taking advantage of Kansas giving up points: Kansas has played some of the top offenses in the country. I think Kansas is doing a great job. Again, it comes down to just us. We have to do our job regardless of who we play. How we execute comes down to how we prepare. It comes down to getting the right people in the right spots and everybody doing their job. It’s that simple. If we can do that, we have an opportunity. Not just against Kansas, but [against] whoever you play. Offensively, that’s just how it is from that standpoint. We have worry about ourselves, do our jobs, take care of the football and go out there and execute.
On working with wide receiver coach Darrell Wyatt: Obviously, I think he’s done a very good job with that group. He brings a lot of experience with where he’s been. He’s been a lot of different places. He’s seen it. He’s seen a lot of different offenses and a lot of different ways to do it. So just starting to work with him with what we are doing, he’s adapted. He’s been around that, so he understands how to explain it and coach it. He provides very good ideas in what we are doing in the pass game and the run game from being a coordinator. It’s another guy that has eyes out there. It’s another guy that has a very good feel for the game and how we can utilize our personnel. I’ve been very pleased with what he’s brought and our relationship together and what he’s doing with the wide receivers right now.
On being a run team over a pass team: That’s been the mentality of this offense since I’ve been in it. It’s that ability to run the ball. We have always felt like that. You need to be able to run the ball, and you’ve got to be able to run the ball in the red zone. When you can do that, and I think that goes for any offense, you have an opportunity to get some matchups outside, one-on-ones, and take advantage of those. That has been our mentality. That is what we want to be able to do is run the football. I think in a perfect world you would be able to be balanced with your pass game and your run game, but the run game always comes first. That’s what we’ve preached to these kids.
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny DiazOn becoming a dominating defense
: I think it would be unfair to say the word “dominating” defense right now. The fun part and aggravating part is I think we're close. I think that's what our tape shows. We're a very good defense. We are fighting our way to become a great defense. That battle is being fought on two fronts. Front A, which is to eliminate the big mistakes. Those things are fixable. We need to have those corrected. Then the second front is being a little more dynamic in terms of our play making, which is creating more turnovers, creating more negative plays. Not because we just think it is fun to do that, because it is, but that translates to winning football games. That's scoring on defense. Things that, generally speaking, win you football games. On the Kansas offense:
It's a different style of offense. Kansas is going to be a run-first offense. We've faced pass-first offenses. When you say they're a top30 running offense, if you're in the top 30 in running the football and you've only won two games, it means you're in the top 15. It really means that you can run the football. Generally speaking, when you're behind, you have to throw. The stats are probably misleading in the other direction. While there's a lot of ways to throw the football and score points, the easiest way to move the football is to run it. They run zone schemes, gap schemes, quarterback schemes. It will be a good test for our run defense. On concerns about stopping the run:
I think what we have learned as a defense is you don't have to make very many mistakes to cost you a football game. Especially mistakes that are mental. If they're physical, we can fix the technique. Mental mistakes are hard to deal with. That comes back to coaching. We have to look at ourselves, get some things corrected, which I believe we did. We've given up six runs this year for 20 or more yards. So there's no secret in terms of saying that's what's keeping us from being a nextlevel dominatingstyle defense. On comparing the Big 12 to the SEC:
The ball is snapped so many more times. That is the number one difference. If you look at the NFL, the SEC, which more mirrors the NFL, they might snap the ball 55, 60 times. We played Georgia last year. Each team had it eight times. Eight possessions for the whole game. In this league that's a half. It's not more complicated. The more swings you have in the back, the more chance you have to get yards and therefore points. That's where we're at. That's the world we live in. There's still some things that apply. If we look back at what we have done well and haven't done well, it still comes back to no big plays allowed, be great in the red zone. The things that win in every league. That is never going to change.On scoring off of turnovers:
Well, we really only talk about four major goals on defense. Scoring is one of them. I told the defense after the Oklahoma State game, “Congratulations, we scored twice on defense.” The problem is we scored twice on the same play. I would have loved to have declined the safety. But what you have to do is you just have to continue to press, attack, be relentless. The plays are going to come. Get our hands on the ball. Finish the plays. We're talking about the other fronts, which is taking the next step. Make the plays that win us the football game. Step in front of it. Pick it off. We're close. You don't want to become tight and tense and do more than what you have to do. You know what I mean? Make plays. Trust your technique. Do your job. Go full speed. When you have the opportunity to make it, make the play. On making adjustments with DB Adrian Phillips out:
Yeah, sort of like what we always do. Certainly we like what our young guys are doing - Josh Turner
, Mykkele Thompson
- getting more and more experience. That's what you can get during the bye week. Get the young players more game ready. There may be a role for them. Certainly Quandre [Diggs] and Carrington [Byndom] at the corner. We'll look at what we do with our packages, where it all fits in. We'll sort of maintain, do the same things that we do. On the defensive ends’ play:
In a way it goes back to the same thing we were just talking about. What we really need our ends to do, and they have to get better. We went back and looked at every pressure to see [what] we had this year. We have to continue to just improve fundamentally, which is a big part. We still know we're young. Our two ends, one still played, one was hurt. We still like what we have there. Numerically, our pass defense, we're getting what we want. We're just not making the big plays. That's what we're talking about. We're finding the way to get that one extra step. I prefer our ends, instead of being concerned about their sack total, I'd rather have them concerned about their technique. Worry about my hand placement a little bit more. If I worry about the process and performance more than the result, the results will come. They've heard it this entire season why they're not getting sacks. You're not dependent solely upon yourself for yourself. If your pass play was horrendous - if the quarterback was sitting there smoking cigarettes, throwing the ball down the field because he had so much time, then we would be concerned. But that being said, we still have to improve. We want to pressure the quarterback. That creates negative plays. We're not discouraged with where we're at, but we understand there's room to improve.