Oct. 29, 2012
Opening statement: Proud of the guys with their come-from-behind win at Kansas. Through my time here, we're 30-7 in four-point wins. The way they came back with the adversity, especially the offense right in the end of the game, was really special. We go back to the [Kansas] game in '04 that we talked about. Same end zone. I thought there were 17 seconds left when we won in '04, there were only 11 [seconds]. In this case there were 12.
Felt like the offense did a good job of killing the clock at the end too, so Kansas couldn't respond. We still had a timeout in our pocket. We were going to use it with six seconds left if we didn't score, and go for the win. We weren't going to try to kick and go into overtime.
Give credit to [Kansas head coach] Charlie Weis, and [defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach] Dave [Campo]. They've done a tremendous job at Kansas. It was evident with the TCU close game there, holding Oklahoma State to 20 points, and the same with our game. Kansas is going to beat somebody. They're headed in the right direction. Charlie and Dave Campo are the right people for Kansas.
Defensively, we played a great second half. We gave up only 75 yards in the second half, 30 yards in the third quarter, and gave up the three points. A little disappointing because we had the long pass-interference call. But I thought the defense came out the second half and played by far the best defense we played all year. We need to build on that as we get better here at the end of the year. We did tackle better. Eight of the 11 drives produced only 77 yards. We sacked the quarterback three times, [allowed] only 12 passing attempts. Forty-one of their 65 plays were for three yards or less. We still held them to two touchdowns and four trips to the red zone, and knocked them out in a couple of key situations. Also gave our offense the ball four times on our side of the 50 [yard-line], which should have produced more points from our offense than it did.
Things we need to improve - there were three long drives for 17 points during the ballgame, two of them in the second quarter, where we didn't play as well. Because we were dominant the first and third quarters for sure. The one 98-yard drive, where they actually have the 64-yard run coming off the goal line, is something we can't continue to do because that's a four-point swing. Stop them there, get the ball, short field, go in and get your seven points. Instead we let them change field position. Crowd got excited, they got confidence. That was a key play on offense we didn't handle well.
[Senior S] Kenny Vaccaro and [Senior DE] Alex Okafor both knocked fumbles loose, and they bounced back to the Kansas player. One of them was at the one or two yard line, so it would have produced points. We've got to get on those balls.
The big hit award was Kenny Vaccaro. The most valuable players on defense were Kenny Vaccaro and Alex Okafor. Really proud of them. Even though our defense has struggled at times this year, they have not. They've played hard, well, continuing to be great leaders for the other guys. They did a tremendous job at halftime of picking the other guys up and letting them come back out with a lot more confidence the second half.
Our defense ranks ninth in tackles for loss, in the country. We have penetrated and made some plays at 7.8 tackles for loss per game. Our offense is only surrendering 3.8 [tackles for loss per game], which is the five fewest loss yards for an offensive team in the country as well.
We've faced some great offensive teams this year, but Texas Tech is going to be another one. You look and the four of the top six offensive teams in America have been our opponents. Ole Miss was No. 10 in total offense, Oklahoma State was No. 1 in both categories. West Virginia was No. 3 in both categories. Baylor was No. 2 in total offense and fourth in scoring. Texas Tech will be back in that mix. Oklahoma scored the most against with us and they were No. 26 when we played them.
[Sophomore] David Ash will start at quarterback, but we're proud of the way [junior QB] Case [McCoy] prepared off the field. When he came in at Oklahoma he did an excellent job late in the game, and then the way he prepared and came in on Saturday. You go back to a very similar situation that [former QB] Vince Young came out of the game here against [Texas] Tech in a 43-40 win. [Former QB] Chance Mock came off the boundary, took us right down to score and win the game 43-40. Chance came back in the Holiday Bowl and tried to do the same thing against Washington State.
We do know we're lucky to have two quarterbacks that are very good. We're lucky to have Case in a position where he can come in and really, really proud of the performance that he had. The last two drives, 15 plays for 154 yards to take us down and win the ballgame. Tremendous poise in the cold standing on that sideline, “Hey, get out there and play.” Made the fourth-and-six and took us right down to score. Another fourth-and-six conversion. A deep pass to [junior WR] Mike Davis, like the one at Oklahoma State, and Case changed the route. He and Mike had a little thing that they can change the route. They changed it to a little double move. It worked perfectly.
We ran the ball pretty well. Six yards per carry, two touchdowns. It was our passing game that really, really hurt us for the first three quarters really. We just couldn't get done what we needed to. We were behind the chains so much on third-down, which is not the personality this team had. We were 4-of-12 on third-downs, partially set back by two holding penalties - a hands to the face penalty and a sack that stopped four different drives for us. We also had three drops in the passing game. That was very unlike what we've seen of our offense throughout the year. Only had five explosive plays. You have to have eight. So that's unacceptable. First nine offensive possessions we gained only 188 yards on 42 plays. As we said at the end there, the last two drives we had 15 plays for 154 [yards]. Saturday is the first time all year we haven't scored off of a turnover by the defense. We forced one and had our opportunity to score with the fumbled punt, and couldn't get it in the end zone.
Best offensive line play of the game was [sophomore OT] Josh Cochran. Most valuable players were [sophomore WR] Jaxon Shipley and Case McCoy.
Special teams - our kickoff coverage was good, our kickoffs were not. We didn't kick it like we have been. It forced the guys to have great coverage. But the average starting position for Kansas was the 15-yard line. We had tremendous coverage. Punting continues to be a strength by [senior P] Alex King. To get three balls inside the 20 [yard line] and two inside the 5, changes a ballgame like that with field position. Gives your offense other opportunities, again, that we could have done a better job of. He also had a 50-yard punt. Their starting offensive position was the 16-yard line throughout the day. That team also recovered a fumble. They did a great job at the 16-yard line. Extra point and field goals were 3-for-3. Kickoff return was average to poor. They squibbed the ball to keep it out of our speeds' hands. We ended up about the 30 [yard line] but didn't get anything big. We were a little bit better if they kicked them out. We thought they had advantages in that area. We have to do a better job of handling the squibs and returning them.
The blocked punt and return group also didn't really have an opportunity. They forced some bad punts by Kansas, I think 11 yards less than their average. So it helped us in field position, but we didn't get the punt returns we thought we had a chance to get during the ballgame.
[Sophomore WR] Bryant Jackson did a tremendous job as a special teams player of the week. [sophomore S] Josh Turner recovered a fumble. Alex King has become one of the best punters in the country. Like he did at Duke, he is so good at dropping the ball inside the 15 [yard line] that he gives us an opportunity to really help in field position.
Big 12 teams - they're sixth ranked in the BCS, which shows you the strength of this league. We're No. 23 in the BCS rankings. The big quick-strike offenses in this league - 127 touchdown drives that took five or less plays - leads the nation with 4.8 touchdowns per game. Teams are scoring so fast in this league. It's really an exciting brand of football.
Big 12 leads the FBS schools in total yards per game at 463 as a league. This league is averaging 36.9 points per game. People who are struggling with points across the country looking at this league, trying to figure out what is going on. Big 12 has four of the top six passing offenses in the FBS, and five at the top in total offense in the country. Seven of the top 13 scoring offenses are in the Big 12. Four Big 12 quarterbacks, including the top three, are in the nation's top six in the responsibility for scoring points.
There's a lot of two-loss teams out there that are really, really good football teams. Some are talked about as teams that could possibly win a national championship. We were sitting here last year at the same spot. We were 6-2 and didn't finish well. We only won two of the last five games. We lost at Missouri. Came back, lost against Kansas State, a heartbreaker. Won over at Texas A&M, came back and lost to Baylor up in Waco, then beat Cal. We want to finish much better than we did last year.
One of those two-loss teams that we're talking about is Texas Tech. They're 6-2 with losses to Oklahoma and Kansas State. Their defense has been a remarkable rebuilding job by [head coach] Tommy Tuberville. Now they're No. 12 in the country in total defense. They are playing great. Their offense is their offense. That hasn't changed. They move the ball, and they're going to score points all the time. But give credit to Tommy and their defense. They're No. 20 in pass efficiency defense, No. 57 in scoring defense, No. 12 in total defense giving up only 300 yards a game. They held Iowa State to a total 189 yards, which is nearly impossible in modern day football. They have [junior DE] Kerry Hyder [from Austin] as one of their dominant defensive linemen. Will Smith, linebacker, 6'3", 224-pound junior is their leading tackler. They're playing man coverage all over the field. They're doing on defense a lot of the things that Oklahoma did to us, so we've got our hands full to try to figure out how to move the ball this weekend.
Offensively I'm so impressed with [senior QB] Seth Doege. I can't imagine him not being a Heisman contender. Some of the other teams that have two losses, their guys are still up for the Heisman. He should be in be that group. He's thrown 30 touchdowns, only nine interceptions. His name should be right in the middle of that list in my estimation. He's only had eight interceptions. He's the No. 7 passer in the country, No. 1 in TD passes. I don't know how you keep that guy out of the Heisman race as you look at it.
They're No. 12 in points scored per game with 40.5. Rushing for about 150 [yards]. They keep your attention with the rushing game. No. 3 in passing yards with 358 yards, No. 11 in total yards per game at 507 yards per game, ranked 20th in the rankings.
You go back and look at them, three big seniors up front. Really good receivers with [junior Eric] Ward, [senior Alex] Torres and [senior Darrin] Moore. They're guys that are catching a whole lot of balls. Seth has great confidence with them. [Sophomore RB] Kenny Williams is a really good runner for them, averaging about 6.1 yards per rush. Those guys are doing a good job.
Good for Tommy. They struggled down the stretch last year quite a bit on defense. He's totally turned it around. That's what you would expect out of a great coach.
On sophomore QB David Ash being listed as the starter for Saturday’s game against Texas Tech: Not much discussion. David has done a great job. We're lucky to have two [quarterbacks]. That's what we fought for in the competition in the spring and summer. We wanted to know we would have two guys. It's a hard position to play. David struggled, but the offense struggled. There were some more guys that are involved with that. Without going over every play, there were dropped balls, routes that were run improperly, screens that were messed up. The offense was not in sync. When it's not, you have got to change something. I was excited for [junior QB] Case [McCoy] that he was prepared to come in. When he came in, he came in with great confidence and took us right down to score and win the game. We feel like Case is the guy we can use when needed.
On injured junior LB Jordan Hicks coming back this season: We haven't given up. Trainer said yesterday he will not play this week.
On considering a medical redshirt for Hicks: I think so. You have to do it at the end of the year. You can't do it until then. You go back and you have to apply for one. Can't do it until the year's over.
On backup junior QB Case McCoy: Case gets it. He understands. He and [sophomore QB] David [Ash] are great friends. They hang out together. We have a tremendous situation there with both of those guys. Case knows that we will not hesitate to put him in, and David knows that, too. It is a competition. Because you have a bad three quarters doesn't mean you haven't done a lot this year. That is no different than any other position except it gets more publicity. You play the guy that does the best. Throughout the year David has done a great job. Saturday he struggled, and Case did the best. We're going to go back and let David practice as a starter, but we'll keep Case close. Really proud of what he did, the way he handled it, how he performed.
On the defense: It's the big plays we've given up like the play off the goal line. We are sitting there, that's a great opportunity for points for us. Number one, we don't tackle him at the line of scrimmage. We've got a bust on a blitz where guys are late. In the secondary you shouldn't let a guy go 64 yards. We've got to pin him and stop him. We just got to continue to work and do better in those areas. I did think, though, the second half of defense is who we want to be. That's the first time we played like that all year. If we hadn't done that, if Kansas could have continued to run like they did in the second quarter, we would have lost the game because we weren't hitting on cylinders, offensively. We needed to get something started. If we didn't get the ball back a number of times, we couldn't have done that.
On freshman RB Johnathan Gray: This will be a big game for him since his dad was a great running back out at Texas Tech. This will be huge for dad and mom. They played for [former Texas Tech head coach Spike] Dykes out there. Johnathan is really tough. He is so mature for a freshman. Knock on wood, he's had good ball security. Even the ball that [sophomore QB] David [Ash] had knocked out of his hands when he and [senior FB Ryan] Roberson ran together, not only did it bounce to [Gray], but he picked it up and tried to score with it. He's very mature, very tough. He's got good ball security. He can catch. He's learning his pass protections better. That allows him to play more.
On Texas Tech sophomore RB Kenny Williams: Kenny is big and fast, and he can catch. And their offense is very much the run-and-shoot from Troy [University] that they wanted when they started. They throw it so well, you got to give up something. Again, what do you give up? Do you keep guys in the box? These are the teams that have ripped us defensively because we haven't been able to stop the run with the fewer numbers in the box. In some cases, we put the numbers outside where they should be and we still haven't stopped the pass, especially on fourth down. He really is bothersome, even though they've got three running backs that they rotate. They're all really good players. But they have a big, strong offensive line. Those guys are three seniors up front that are all 6'6", take the big split. The running game always worries you when you play Tech.
On whether he is focusing more on Texas Tech’s run or passing game: I don't know. We got ripped so much by West Virginia, then Tech stops them the next week. That's a signature game for them. You go back and start studying Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, that were all wide-open spread teams like this one is. We didn't really do a great job against any of them. [Texas Tech senior QB] Seth [Doege] is just so accurate. He's like [former Texas Tech QB] Graham Harrell, and [former Texas Tech QB Kliff] Kingsbury. He's like all the other guys out there that are so accurate, so good, he can beat you if you just let him. If you blitz him, he gets it to the hot guys. This guy is a really good player. I don't see all the national stuff, but if he's not in the national mix, he should be.
On if he has seen a change in the Texas Tech defense: I don't know. I really haven't. I think it is because of scheme. They're in your face. They're playing man coverage all over the field. They've got seniors in the secondary, so they're older back there and they can do that. At the same time they're playing so much harder with so much more confidence. The Kansas defense is much better than the one we ran for 441 yards last year, and this Tech defense doesn't even look the same. Like I said, they're playing so much better on defense, that's where their improvement has been made. No. 12 in the country, playing the same teams we are. They shut West Virginia out completely.
On the key to practicing converting fourth downs: I don't know. We even had a fourth-down period the last two weeks. We screamed 'fourth down' and made a huge deal of it when we got off the field. You have to make plays. The defense made plays in the second half last week. Hopefully that will help them with some confidence as they move forward.
On having to offensively convert fourth downs: With ours, yeah. This league is so point crazy, you have got to score. When you cross the 50 [yard line], people are thinking about four downs instead of three. Very few people are punting at the 45 yard line or the 40 yard line anymore. They're trying to go for it. The same thing with when they get down in field goal range. They know field goals aren't going to win in this league. You better get seven if you can. I don't know how many field goals we kicked this year. We haven't kicked many field goals as of late. I don't think we kicked one the last two weeks for sure. I think that's it more than anything else. I think people know you got to score points. If you kick a field goal, you lost because that's four points that the other team may get if you don't do a better job stopping them than people have done in this league.
On keeping sophomore QB David Ash as the starter: All decisions we make on personnel are the same. You sit, look at it, try to see what's best. You look at bodies of work and go forward with it. I think what we did is fine. It was the decision that we made. Now you've got [junior QB] Case [McCoy] in a great position to come in if things aren't going well.
On the close comeback win over Kansas: We felt like we'd win the game the whole time. We just couldn't get going, couldn't get the offense going. That's a hard thing to do - to keep guys from panicking, to keep coaches from panicking. Our coaches did a tremendous job at halftime. Nobody was happy, but everybody knew we started too easily, probably. It was like, “Oh, this is going to be easy,” and it wasn't, because Kansas has a lot of pride. It's a situation where I think the Oklahoma State comeback really helps us. They remember the Texas A&M comeback from last year. Our teams are smart. They know what they have to do to do that. I thought if [junior QB] Case [McCoy] would just make the first first down on the fourth-and-six, on that drive, we would win the game. It was the same thing at A&M.That first first down in those critical situations are tough. You have four downs, and you ought to make four yards.
I'm really proud of those guys. It's so similar to Oklahoma State. They both came up with a fourth-and-six. Both cases it was a pass over the middle, one to [sophomore WR] Jaxon [Shipley], one to [senior TE] D.J. [Grant]. Both situations deep pass to [junior WR Mike] Davis, deep runs to get it down to the goal line. I really think our guys feel like in those situations they're good. I've never coached in an overtime game in 37 years. I don't know how long we've had overtime, but I haven't ever been in one and have no interest in going into one. I wish we had gone into one [against] West Virginia, that's what I was hoping.
You look at it, and you have to win some games when you don't play very well. We haven't been able to do that the last couple years because we haven't been good enough. It's a great sign that we were still able to win. You can look at the bad game at Oklahoma. It was really bad. You can look at we were four points away from being 7-1.
On playing an in-state rival: It's harder to go to a Kansas, who is not a traditional school for us to play, because the fans aren't usually hyped about the Kansas game. It's been amazing in my 15 years here to see that. This week all the players will be talking back and forth. They all know each other. Everybody has a Tech guy they work with or somebody at work likes Texas Tech. It will be a fun week and a great week to have a lot of excitement. Most of our staff hasn't been to Lubbock. It will be fun for them to go out there and see this environment. It will be a lot of fun for the players.