In the last official press conference of the year (full PDF transcript), prior to the bowl game, Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, TE Jace Amaro and DT Kerry Hyder spoke with the media about the Texas Longhorns. Before we get to the quotes, I want to get to some of the links out of the way.
Our own sweet SARR went over to Barking Carnival to dispel a ton of myths about Lubbock. #MythBusted.
The LAJ notes that no Texas Tech player made it as a finalist for any national award, which would include Ryan Bustin and Jace Amaro. Amaro didn't make it as a finalist for the Mackey Award (tight end) and the Biletnikoff Award (receiver).
Amaro then tweeted that by not making it as a finalist, this snub helped make his decision. I know this is not a popular sentiment, but I hope someone pushes him out the door the the NFL because he's that good. I'd love it if he returns, but he's a top 15 pick.
The LAJ article has some news on personnel and who is starting and who isn't, and some of that was addressed in the coordinator press conference with Matt Wallerstedt, where he revealed that Justis Nelson would get the start at corner and Tanner Jacobson would get the start at strong safety. OT Matt Wilson broke his ankle and this has created issues with where players are getting reps as James Polk is getting all of the tackle reps, that Beau Carpenter is just now not feeling the effects of the concussion, so he might not play, and if that happens, Baylen Brown will get the start at right guard.
Also addressed in Kingsburys presser is that LB Blake Dees is no longer on the team. No other details were given.
The LAJ has an article about the indoor practice facility, which as you'll note from the quotes below, Kingsbury brushes off, but AD Kirby Hocutt says that it's a priority. I know some of us, maybe including Kingsbury, relish in the thought that playing outside is great, but from a facilities and recruiting standpoint, it does help. I know that this isn't a popular sentiment, but that's okay. Hocutt also said that having the practice facility on one of the practice fields is off the table, so that's interesting, and that Hocutt said that maybe Tuberville was trying to rush the indoor facility, but that Hocutt wants to make sure it is done right. I do think that this is accurate, but Tuberville probably also wanted Hocutt to hurry up and give him a raise and extension.
On to pullquotes and Kingsbury didn't name a starter at quarterback and said that the quarterbacks are getting reps. Lots and lots of reps.
Q. How was the bye week?
COACH KINGSBURY: It was good. Got a lot of reps for the quarterbacks. Guys that have made position changes and things of that nature, got them a bunch of reps, which we desperately needed.
Kingsbury is asked about the rough weather last week, and as mentioned above, seems dismissive about it.
Q. Coach, does the weather affect your preparations this off week? Do you have to make any adjustments over the next couple days because of the snow on the ground or the ice or do you just go out there?
COACH KINGSBURY: No, we had a tractor out there moving it off which took a little while yesterday, but we got it done. It's been fine. It is what it is. We practice outside for a long time up here.
Q. What is your thought on talking back to the conditions of the snow and everything and building the indoor practice facility and where that ranks on your list?
COACH KINGSBURY: You know, like I said, we practiced out here a long time without one. So that's more of a curvy-type question, so we'll make do with what we have. We've won a lot of games out here and we play outside so...
Wallerstedt mentioned getting back to basics as well, and Wallerstedt also said that he loves the guys in the room and they are working their tails off.
Q. Have you kind of chimed in on the defensive side of the ball? During the bye week, did you guys address some of that to try to get stops?
COACH KINGSBURY: Yeah, we've been trying to get stops. We've just got to find a way to do it. We've got to put our players in position. That's when those guys have to make plays. The missed tackles was concerning and we got back to the basics of that. We'll see how it goes Thursday.
Hmm, Brewer taking advantage of the reps he's getting. /wink/
Q. The farther that Michael [Brewer] goes away and past the injury (No microphone) since he's gotten more reps and farther away from the injury, are you seeing improvement in him now?
ob. The reps he does get, he's taking advantage of them. I think mentally is the toughest part, coming back and preparing to be the starter when you haven't been for that long. He's a competitive kid, and I know he wants to be out there.
Kinsbury does keep harping on how this team hasn't played it's best game yet and like all of you, I'd love to see it on Thursday.
Q. Can you just talk about the opportunity that awaits you guys Thursday? If you guys can win, it can really change how everybody views the season?
COACH KINGSBURY: Yeah, there are a lot of games that could have changed the way people viewed this season. When you lose four in a row, that's how it goes. But to us, it's an opportunity to play our best game, and we've been waiting to do that.
Pretty interesting quotes from Kingsbury on Texas head coach Mack Brown. I believe every word that Kingsbury says, especially the part about how Brown treats high school coaches. That's huge and I think that's one of the reasons why Brown has recruited the way he does.
Q. Could you talk about Coach Brown a little bit and maybe what he's meant for the Big 12 and how he's represented the university and how he's gone down there and maybe how tough it is?
COACH KINGSBURY: Yeah, he's an incredible coach. It is a tough deal for him in that I don't think people remember where they were at before he got there and what he's done for that program. So it's kind of be careful what you wish for to an extent, because the impact he's had on Texas football and the University of Texas and their success, it's really incredible. You ask any high school coach, the way he treats each and every one with respect, I couldn't say enough good things about him. Having my dad as a high school coach, the interactions he had with my dad and the way he treated us were incredible.
Up next are the players and Amaro talks about how mistakes have cost this team.
Q. Do you feel like you guys used the off week to your advantage?
JACE AMARO: Yeah, we went against good on good most of the week, and I think that helped us a lot getting back into game situations and not just going against the scouts and playing against each other. So I think we took advantage of that. The defense looks good, offense is running better, and people say that -- I mean we lost the last four games, but we're really in almost every single one of them. OU we had a chance to tie at the end of the game, Oklahoma State we chance to take the lead in the third quarter. Kansas State we cut it to ten point, and Baylor we had a chance to go up 27-7. The tell tale of the story, this whole year we've been one mistake away in every game from taking full momentum in every single game. We know how good of a team we are. We had a chance to have a better season than what we've had so far. And I think this bye week really helped us realize that.
Again, Amaro talks about how the team has to focus on putting the defense in good positions and not turning the ball over.
Q. What do you think the key is to go down there to [Austin] to take the crowd out and also have your defense stop the running game?
JACE AMARO: For offense, we just haven't put the defense in good positions. I think we're one of the last place teams in giving the ball away on offense and we've just had too many penalties that have killed our drives in bad situations. As an offense, we just need to make sure that we control the ball. We move the ball very well every single game this season. I feel like no one's been able to stop us when we don't shoot ourselves in the foot. I think the offense to tell the defense if we just move the ball and get drives going, as long as we keep moving the ball, I think the defense has a good shot at playing their best game. It's when we turn the ball over and put them in bad situations is when they struggle a little bit.
Execute and special teams . . .
Q. How much has the four-game skid left the mind of the team?
JACE AMARO: You know, like I said, we just feel like we've had a chance to win every single game. It's not like we got blown out from the beginning. We were down 21-0 against Oklahoma State. We came back, and like I said, we had a chance to take the lead in the third quarter. The defense did their job, got 3 and out. We go 3 and out, and they take a punt return to the 1-yard line. So I think we're a great team. We know that we're a great team. It's just we've had a lot of mishaps and things that just didn't go our way. And we just need to learn. We're a young team too, and we just need to learn to make sure we don't have those special teams errors and turnovers. So I think with the four-game skid it hasn't bothered us too much. We just need to know that we need to execute and take advantage of games when we have them in our hands.
Yes, Amaro calling for man coverage. Love it.
Q. What have you noticed about how Texas defense plays in your time playing against them?
JACE AMARO: From what we've seen they like to play a lot of man. They feel like they have the athletes to guard receivers one-on-one, and we're hoping that they do that. We feel we have the athletes to take advantage of that. We've done a great job of when people play man-to-man against us, it's just one of those teams sit back and let us make the mistakes is when we struggle a little bit. But either way we feel we have a great game plan going in, and we'll execute as well as we can.
Kerry Hyder is up next and being from Austin, this game would be important to him and the team.
Q. Being from Austin for so many years and watching A&M and Texas play Thanksgiving, what's it mean to you to be on that stage this year?
KERRY HYDER: It means a lot. I remember growing up being with the entire family. We'd watch the Cowboys game early in the day and wait for later that night for the Texas-A&M game. It's crazy that people will be watching me on Thanksgiving night, so I'm definitely looking forward to it.
Kingsbury, Wallerstedt and Hyder all talked about getting back to basics.
Q. What sort of adjustments have you made to try and be a lot tougher?
KERRY HYDER: Well, just tackling, assignment football, just practicing the little things with football. The things you kind of forget about toward the end of the season. So we just tried to really go back to the basics, be it the steps and how to leverage people and tackle them and tackling drills. So we just focused on the little things this week.
Hyder also talked about if the focus of the team changes.
Q. Have you seen a change in the focus of your teammates with the bye week practices and the missed assignments? You probably don't see them that big into a game, but can you see any difference this week?
KERRY HYDER: Definitely. I guess we always kind of felt like we'll get it done, we'll get it done, and we lost four straight. So to take a step back and see it's not going to get done in a game unless we handle this in practice. So just to see the guys step up and really take this to heart and take advantage of this bye week has been good to see.
Action: Video of Kingsbury, Amaro, Hyder, Matt Wallerstedt and Sonny Cumbie. Good stuff.