Nov. 16, 2011
Assistant head coach/defensive backs coach Duane Akina
On this being the last home game for his seniors: These games always have a lot of emotion that comes with it. You see guys come in as freshman and you see them grow. Not only athletically, but as individuals. It’s just a bittersweet situation. [Safeties] Blake [Gideon] and Christian [Scott] had terrific careers while they have been here. We need to go out and play well and continue.
On the blocked punt against Missouri: [DB] Leroy [Scott] did a nice job of hitting his spots. Whenever we call blocks nowadays with all the shield pun - that part of the game has really evolved with all the shield. There are so many different looks, you don’t know what you’re going to get. We knew that there were going to be some rugby opportunities there and on the block, everyone hit their man and it was just great execution. On the second one we were actually in better shape, and the punter mishit it and pulled it from underneath Leroy’s hand. I really thought that on the second one we had a better opportunity because we got there cleaner.
On how Kansas States’ running game will impact the game plan of the defensive backs: It definitely shifts gears. Eye discipline is always important for us, but now it’s really challenging with the many formations that they show. Anytime that you have a quarterback in shotgun that’s a running threat, you have to add a secondary man into the front, into a gap control front. That challenges us also where there’s even less margin for error. We have to see run/pass. When you see it you have to do a great job with the line of scrimmage, and then we have to do a great job with all the vertical throwing game where they get chunks. Then they also do a great job on their quick game, which is high percentage throws that, if you do gang up the front, they’re able to throw the quick game. And then that becomes their running game on either/or downs like first and ten, second and four to six area.We have to be able to change some things up. But the biggest thing is our eye control to negate the vertical throws. We’ve done a nice job on that for the most part this year, and we need another good game with that this week.
On the defensive backs staying focused with such a rush oriented offense like Kansas State: You enjoy the Big 12 because the ball is in the air and it’s one of the fun things about this conference. Although we talk all the time about being a complete package, and this is an opportunity for us to show that we are a complete secondary. Show that we can force the run [and] play with great discipline. And I don’t think when you have 12 opportunities in a given season that you can ever get bored.
On Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein: He does run well. There is some deception in his game, and he has the ability as a big target to cut back and then fall forward for positive yardage. We have to do a good job of rallying there and wrapping up because every yard is precious against an offense like this. Every yard is hidden in a game like this.
Co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach Major Applewhite
On RB Jeremy Hills: He has some perimeter speed. He can do some things on the outside for us. We had a couple things set up for him on the edge so he can do some things in the passing game for us by getting out there.
On RB Fozzy Whittaker’s injury: Fozzy still means the same thing to me that he did before he was injured. He’s just a great person. I know I am just 33 years old, but I have a feeling that when I’m older and coaching I am going to look back say, “Man, he was special.” And he is. He’s the kind of guy that graduates in three years [then] gets his masters. He’s in church on Sundays. He’s doing the right thing off the field. He’s gathering up guys that he sees straying and bringing back in. He’s coaching up the younger ones. He’s selfless. He’s just a great person. He’s the type of person that you want in your business or on your team. You hear that a lot from coaches, but he really is a terrific person.
On how Fozzy can still have an impact on the team now that he is out for the season: I think some of the things that we talked about earlier on when we were in fall camp and we were asked what Fozzy meant to Malcolm [Brown] and Joe [Bergeron]. He’s taught them preparation from the standpoint of how you approach the meeting room. How you meet. How do you study on your own, and how you conduct yourself off the field. His lessons, even though he’s not on the field, have been taught. Guys listen and he’s had an impact. They listen, and they respect him. They see that he’s fought through things himself, and that gives him some credibility.
On RB Cody Johnson possibly seeing some time at tailback: We have to rep a lot of guys at tailback throughout this stretch. We haven’t had this type of circumstance as far as two off weeks early and then a six game stretch. What we’ve had to do is look at this three game stretch here and say that we are going to play three here in these last three weeks. A lot of guys who haven’t typically played the full tailback role are getting some reps to make sure that we have all hands on deck.
On having to deal with all the injuries to running backs after things had been going to well on the ground: It’s tough, but then you have to look around the country. You see [South Carolina RB] Marcus Lattimore was down with an injury. [Georgia RB] Isaiah Crowell missed a game earlier this year with an injury. If you are a run team and you are going to feature guys, you’re going to have some of that. You have to have two, three, four guys. I went up during the off-season to North Carolina and visited with their running backs coach and he started six different tailbacks last year. So when you’re a run team and you’re featuring it, those guys are going to get some bangs and bruises. Things like that are going to happen. I know around here, being a Texas player, a Texas fan, you get spoiled with a guy like Ricky [Williams] who is just an absolute workhorse, and he’s just a rare guy that you see in football. Even guys like Cedric Benson have missed a game with shoulder [injuries]. It’s just a part of football.
On what he would tell someone about handling the pressures of being the quarterback at Texas: Just playing quarterback here is an awful lot of responsibility. The best thing is to be naïve all the way through it. That’s something that I pulled off pretty easily. You have to trust your teammates, trust the ten guys around you and the defensive side of the ball. Sometimes your coach asks you to go out there and score 25 points a night, and sometimes he just wants you to get ten or 12 assists and let the other guys do it. You just have to understand that you only have one small part of this 11 man part and do [your] job. Don’t act outside of myself, just play within myself. Put us in the right plays and move the chains. I always tried to seek refuge in the fact that I had ten guys that are working around me and that I was never by myself.
On the challenges of the Kansas State defense: Same thing as the physicality of their offense. Coach [Bill] Snyder has been around forever and he’s built his program around that blue-collar mentality. Being tough run teams, some option in there, quarterback run game so he’ll outnumber you by letting the quarterback run the back. So they’re going to have that tough attitude on offense, and defensively they’ve always had a great defense. They have always stayed fairly basic from the standpoint of scheme. They just line up and play you. They don’t try to trick you and move all over they place. They just line up and play football. You enjoy watching those kinds of teams on Saturday. It’s going to be a 60-minute battle, and it’s going to be physical on both sides of the ball.
On the importance of QBs David Ash and Case McCoy letting the game come to them instead of pressing: Absolutely. Even if you have running backs out, or they are not full speed and you have to rely on the passing a little bit more, it’s the same thing. Just take what they give you. If it’s a check down, take it. Take what they give you. Do the things within the play. Each play has a life of its own. Win that play, on to the next one. Don’t let injuries affect how you do [it] and how you execute.