Oct. 30, 2012
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny Diaz
On the defense in the second half against Kansas: I think you can take a lot out of that. Really you can almost look at the entire game minus the two drives,. There were two drives back-to-back in the second quarter where we played poorly and Kansas made some plays. Give them credit. They had shown some things they hadn't shown before. Our guys battled, did a lot of good things. I don't think they had a run for more than seven yards in the second half. There's real live things for a team that we can take confidence from.
On feeling apprehensive when Kansas continuously ran the ball in the second half: Well, there's no doubt. That's what it comes down to. When you look back, of course they ran it every play for two quarters, you can look back. Usually what you're waiting for is the shot. But Kansas had a good plan. They were going to run the football. We talked about it last week. Felt like their backs were really good players, and they are. Keep the ball in the hands of their best guys. It was really important for our guys to stand up to that challenge. Like I said over the course of the 10 or 11 times they had it, 10 times we did a good job. The pass interference in the fourth quarter, it was going to be our fifth three-and-out of the day if we don't draw that flag there.
On why he believes the defense is better: Because week by week we're just older, more experienced. Every week we get something else. Every week something else is coming into focus for some of these guys. We're learning to be a more physical football team. Like I said, teams develop their physical nature in different times. We were a more physical team earlier in the year than we were this year. Part of that comes down to age versus youth. We're growing into it. I'm excited to see how we'll match up with their offense.
On Texas Tech QB Seth Doege: What you see is, again, a senior quarterback that has a great relationship with all his wide receivers. They've been in this offense now for a few years. Just comfort level. I think the thing that really has set him apart from even what he was able to do last year when he put up great numbers is the confidence on his outside receivers and on the vertical ball. That's where they as an offense have made their biggest improvements in being able to stretch you vertically down the field. The wide receivers are coming down with it more than they're not. That gives them a chance to be explosive in the passing game. Again, he's a guy that's seen it all and can make all the throws. It will be a great challenge for us.
On which is more important to stop, the run or pass: I don't think you can vote sort of one way or the other because they are so balanced. Then again, like most teams, any good defense tries to take away what is easiest to do. So they do a great job with their run game, but you can stop the run game, they throw screens, a three-step, which turns into their run game as well. They put great strain on your defense in terms of, again, defending them right down Main Street with the run game, sideways with the screens. If you don't stop that, you're going to have a hard time stopping them throwing the ball down the field.
On the progress of the linebackers: They're getting better every week. Every week they kind of grab something. There's a difference between thinking you know and knowing you know. Every one of those guys came out of two-a-days thinking they knew what to do. Then you get in the game and they're just becoming more confident in their reads, more confident in their keys. What happens is when you're more confident in the game mentally, then you can play the game better physically. It's really hard to be physical and aggressive if you're not completely certain on where it is that you're going. We are not a finished product. But you've been able to see the last few weeks, every week they're getting a little more, which is exciting for those guys.
On if the defense is playing better by not overthinking and just reacting: That's what it's all about. There's no doubt, that's what it's all about. What they've all learned is that the game at this level is a mental game. Everybody is big and can run and do all those type of things. The thing is, your DNA doesn't get you by in college football. You have to get your assignments down, understand where your key is. We try to teach it very simply. Get your key, let it go. It sounds simple. But when you have to do it with the offenses we've had to play against, it's been a learning experience. That's where having that steady hand next to you is good. We've had two guys in there that have been both inexperienced. Communication fosters confidence.
I was saying, it's like in class. When you think you know the answer, you're going to say it under your breath. The more confidence you have, the more confidently you'll speak up that you know the answer to the question. It has been a process, but we are improving and they are starting to play a little bit faster.
Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin
On the resiliency of the offense: You know, very happy with how we finished the game. I thought we started fast. One of the things going into that game, that we knew they had played very well at home. They played TCU very close at home. They played Oklahoma State very close at home. Those two offenses, I know and we know, are very good. So I think that whole entire week that we were preparing, we understood what we were getting into. Those guys were lined up, because they have very good coaches on their side of the ball. I think everything leading up to the final drive, we just had some things in there that were uncharacteristic. That can be corrected and will be corrected. Need to be corrected. But the bottom line was at the end those guys came together and things clicked like they're supposed to and we operated like we should. It didn't happen early enough, but it did happen. I was proud of [QB] Case [McCoy] when he came in there, being just mentally into the game as he was. He could see some things that we talked about. He's on the headset with me the whole time. I'm up there rambling as plays are developing, "You should do this, go here." When he got in there to play, he was able to capitalize on those things we had seen as David [Ash] was in there. Credit to him and a credit to the offense just to kind of take a deep breath towards the end in a crucial situation and go, "Okay, let's just operate. I don't know why we're here right now, but we are, so we got to find a way to gut this thing out." And they did that at the end of the game.
On not making a change at quarterback: Yeah, we won't do that. David's got us to this point as well. Not everything is the quarterback's fault in a game. We're able to see that. At the time, though, the momentum and things that we had to do needed to be done. That's why you have backup players. That's why you have quarterbacks like Case on your team thaat are able to come in there and play. We said it all along - he's capable of going in there and playing at any time. He had himself prepared to do that. Right now that's how we'll continue to do it. Those guys will play and practice this week, get themselves prepared. The one thing we do know, if there's a situation there that Case is available and ready, he'll be ready to play as well.
On the decision to keep David Ash as the starter: I think just going back, once you go back, you have a chance to look at the game, the reasons why things were the way they were. David knows there's things we have to get better at, and guys have bad games. Like any other position, if a guy is not running the ball well, catching the ball well, you make a change. If things aren't flowing the way they're supposed to at the quarterback position, you make a change. You come back, refocus, regroup, sit down, say, "This is what needs to happen." This week it's got to go back to what we've been doing. David played at a high level. He didn't in this game. Needs to get himself back to doing that. Case needs to keep preparing himself to be ready to play and be ready.
On the inconsistencies in the offense: I think we get to see every week every single play of the opponent we're playing against. We understand what we're getting into. Sometimes the perception is not the reality. We know exactly what is going to happen. We know the ways we can attack it, the personnel we have, and we know what they have as well. From our standpoint, every game we play is going to be a dogfight. I think teams, as well, scout you, look at you. They're going to make plays, too, in there. That causes some inconsistency on the offensive side. The reality of it is when it's all together - you go to some previous games, Baylor - everything is clicking, doing their jobs, things flow like you want to it to. When it doesn't happen that way because you're playing against a certain opponent, one-on-one matchup causes a problem that things don't click, you have to be able to overcome that.
On the Texas Tech defense: Schematically they're very similar to what we saw from Oklahoma. They do some different things, but just as far as the up-in-your-face mentality, that's what they bring. They're playing with a lot of confidence. Watching them this year, they're playing fast and physical, doing all the things you want to see on defense. The biggest thing is any time we have matchups, one-on-ones, opportunities, we have to take advantage of it. I think that's where they got a few teams, being able to win the one-on-one matchups. We have to do a good job of creating those and win those. It's going to be bang-bang plays, make something happen with it - in the run game keeping guys covered up. In a certain play, you're not going to let somebody slip off there because those guys are finding the ball from what I've seen. It's a fight. The way I look at it now, it's going to be a fight. They're going to play hard. We have to match that intensity in their house and play with as much fight as they've been playing with and try to match that as far as just getting out there and going.
On the difference in the Texas Tech defense this year: I mean, that's the one thing - you know our deal about stats around here, all those things. There's 11 players out there playing hard. That's what I see. I see 11 guys that are coached well, that play hard, that get after you, that do all the things that you want to see teams do. They just play with an intensity.
That's what we have to do as well. We've got to bring our intensity. We have to match that. We have to have the same type of edge that they play with and not be surprised by it when they come out and play hard and hit you. We have to try to hit them back. You can just watch the tape. There's no surprises there. They're doing all those things and playing at a high level.
On RB Johnathan Gray: Johnathan is doing a good job. It's a process like anybody else. I'm not going to say there's anybody offensively that has arrived by any means. We have a lot of work to do, him included. He has played well. He has done things exceptionally. There's still a lot of room for improvement. It's not perfect by any means. That's really what we have to continue to focus on, is everybody has got to get better and find ways to get better. That's our whole mission each and every week, regardless of what happened the previous week. If we're not getting better, that's a bad thing for us. Happy about what he's done. Happy about what he's done with his opportunities. He's got to continue to keep improving, learn more of our offense, be more detailed, continue to run harder, physical, just improve in general. But what he's done has been good. If he continues to do those things I just said, he'll be much improved by the end of the year.
On getting the "playmakers" involved: [RB] Daje [Johnson] touched it on the third play, and it went for nothing. There's a fine line there. We had a game plan in the first half, wanted to set some things up for the second half. Obviously the first half didn't go the way we wanted to. The second half, the stuff we had run previous, set up [WR/RB] D.J. Monroe on the crease, set up [WR] Marquise [Goodwin], felt like some of the pass game stuff went to the wayside a little bit. We had to come back to some more of the run game, be creative, find ways to get those guys the ball. I think there's still a time when you need to do that. Regardless how the game is going, there's a thought-out process that goes into a game. If you panic, jump to things too soon, it's not set up, doesn't look as effective as you wanted it to towards the end. That's the fine line when you're calling it - when do you use that knock-out punch? We had to do that towards the end, and it ended up working for us. We hoped that things worked better on some of the previous plays. That's part of the game plan. Sometimes the week before, you hand the ball to Daje - goes for a touchdown. This week he gets negative two yards. You can beat your head against the wall, give it to one guy because it's him, or try to get it to other guys and do things you're supposed to do to try to win a game.