Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, DT Kerry Hyder and WR Eric Ward spoke with the media on Monday for their pre-game press conference (PDF) to discuss upcoming opponent Kansas St. Kingsbury was pretty quick and to the point that QB Davis Webb would start. So there's not a lot to discuss with that. It was a short answer. What I thought was interesting was Kinbsbury's answer regarding Webb's struggles, but understands that when a quarterback throws that much, he will make mistakes.
Q. What about specifically with Davis?
COACH KINGSBURY: He probably had three throws you can't make in that game. And he knows that. When you throw it 70 times with a true freshman, you're going to get some of those. I thought once again, he had some adverse situations and stuff in his face and hung in there and he made a lot of plays. He'll learn from it.
There wasn't just a lot more there regarding Webb, so we'll move forward. The other big issue is the run defense and that Kingsbury maybe doesn't want to be as aggressive, but wants the defense to play a bit more fundamental. I'm not sure if I am reading that right, I'd love your two cents on this as well.
Q. What do you see as your main issue to the run defense?
COACH KINGSBURY: You know, I feel like there are some missed tackles. And I was telling the defensive staff they had some calls on that weren't made, missed assignments, people trying to do too much. So we've got to get back to fundamentals and doing your job. Not trying to hit a home run every play.
Also encouraging is the fact that Kingsbury said that the team isn't down and Kingsbury is right, this team hasn't even played close to their best game and one of these games they'll be due (unless their best game was the Kansas game).
Q. What is the state of mind of the locker room? Are they sort of down? Have you talked to them about how these teams are showing you what you've got to work on?
COACH KINGSBURY: Yeah, I don't think we're down. I think you learn from each loss. I've said all along, we haven't played our best game, and I think that's what keep this is group excited. When we do put it together, we can be pretty good. Senior Day coming up helps, because we want to send those guys out on the right foot, and it will be a motivated group come Saturday.
And I really do believe that Kingsbury is very appreciative of the seniors that decided to stick around. I do love this group of seniors that have been around through thick and thin.
Q. You addressed it of course several times this year (No microphone) about you guys and your staff. But can you address that to the standpoint of the seniors and what they've meant to a new coach and getting the program off?
COACH KINGSBURY: Yeah, it's been incredible how those guys have helped out and a lot of them, we're the third staff they have had. You see guys like Kerry Hyder and Eric Ward and the effort that they're playing with. They didn't have to buy in. They didn't sign up to play for us. When younger guys see the effort they're giving to this staff and this university, it's really helped ease our transition.
And now we move on to K-State and and after watching some of the Iowa St. and Kansas St. game, yeah, this is pretty much it and the thought of playing two mobile quarterbacks isn't appealing.
Q. With Coach Snyder and the Wildcats coming in and liking to run the ball, do you issue the challenge on defense that you've seen this on tape now and you have to go out and prove that you can stop it?
COACH KINGSBURY: Yeah, they know. If you're watching that, they're going to hand it off every time until they stop it. So they're going to know what's coming. We talked about other, K-State does a great job with their play-action game, so you still have to be disciplined. I expect them to come in and try to enforce their will and run it all day.
I also noted after the game that Kingsbury said that the supporting offensive group (i.e. other than the quarterback) could have done more and really, the only guys that had to get time were on the line, James Polk coming in for Beau Carpenter and Matt Wilson filing in for Rashad Fortenberry who went to guard for Carpenter.
Q. You had said after the game that the supporting staff didn't do what they could have done. Were you talking about dropped balls? What were you talking about?
COACH KINGSBURY: Just more the guys that have played a bunch of football around here have to step up and be our best players when they're supposed to be. I didn't feel like at certain times we did that. When you have young guys, you have to step your game up and help them out.
Up next is Kerry Hyder, who is pretty short with words.
Q. Can you talk about how the defense is feeling two weeks now to lose like this? The opponent's running game has really caused you some difficulties?
KERRY HYDER: Yeah, we realize it's more so what we're doing. We understand we've got to play better as a D-line and as a front seven all together. We're not getting our fits right. We're not tackling like we used to. We're not swarming to the ball. Just overall we've got to step up our rush defense overall.
And Hyder, I think points to the two things that I think the defense does need to improve on, which is being in the right spot and everyone getting to the ball.
Q. Why don't you think you're tackling as well as you did earlier in the year?
KERRY HYDER: We've just got to be able to run at the ball more. I think earlier in the year we were doing more just swarming to the ball and stuff like that. We have to do better on that side of the ball. We're waiting on a guy to make a play. I feel like earlier in the year we were just swarming trying to beat everybody to the play. We've got to get back to more Red Raider defense.
Hyder, as is the rest of the team, remains really optimistic.
Q. Is there any decline in the level of confidence that you all have in yourselves and as a team?
KERRY HYDER: Oh, no. We believe what we can do. We haven't played well on all three sides of the ball yet. It's been up and down. The offense played well, the defense hasn't played well. The special teams didn't play well, the offense and defense played well. So we feel like we haven't put our best game together yet. We're going to do our best to focus on that this week and try to hit on all three phases of the ball this week.
I pretty much love this answer because it wasn't at all the answer I expected.
Q. Have you had one specific memory during your time here that sticks out as one of your favorite or couple favorite memories you have?
KERRY HYDER: I've got to say I think it would be Missouri here a couple years ago when they had Blaine Gabbert. I didn't play a lot that game, but seeing the excitement around the stadium. It was the first time I'd seen the experience where people rushed the field and stuff. A year ago I got to experience it myself when we beat West Virginia and they rushed the field. Just being part of that and seeing the passion of the fans being able to jump the fence and rush the field. That is an amazing moment.
And Hyder, as I am sure the rest of the team knows, that they cannot afford to care who is lined next to them, just gotta get the job done.
Q. Going back to what you're saying about trusting your teammates. There are obviously some injury problems. You could be missing your two safeties, an outside linebacker and defensive tackle. Does it get harder when you have to fill in with players who wouldn't be starting otherwise?
KERRY HYDER: Yeah, it's hard to replace those guys in game experience and being on the field. It's hard to replace them. But we have guys that are capable and can step up and make plays. We expect them to fill in and keep it rolling. We don't expect a dropoff. We expect them to come in, know the plays and get it done. Our motto is no excuses. So guys being hurt, that's no excuse. We have to come out there and get it done.
Up next is Ward, who doesn't think the offense is pressing.
Q. So you don't feel like at times people are pressing to make things happen rather than sort of trusting in everything you've done in practice and just going with that?
ERIC WARD: I think that depends on the situation. I mean, you're going to press whether you like it or not, whether you're behind or ahead. Sometime it's just happens to come and affect us when we're behind in the game. We're just trying to make plays happen. Trying to get on the board. I don't see it as pressing, it's more trying to get points on the board.
This is K-State and Ward is 100% right. The team has to hold onto the ball and I have no doubt what Ward is communicating here.
Q. Any of the previous games against Kansas State.
ERIC WARD: I remember they hold the ball a really long time on offense. It's kind of frustrating as an offensive player because they try to like take the games in their hand and try to keep the ball as long as they can when they're on offense. But on defense they play zone, mainly zone, and try to make the offense make mistakes. They're very disciplined in what they're doing. So our goal is to minimize mistakes and keep our defense off the field. Just go out there and keep balling like we should be. Minimize our mistakes, hold on to it, and prevent fumbles.
Again, the message is pretty loud and clear for me and I'm totally fine with that.
Q. If there is one thing weak in Kansas State defense, what is that?
ERIC WARD: We have so many skilled players, I don't think they can stop every one of us. I don't think anybody can stop every one of us. I mean, it is what it is. We have too much talent on this team. We just have to find a better way of utilizing each person.
Such a beautiful answer.
Q. Your career at Texas, has it been what you expected when you got here to Texas Tech?
ERIC WARD: It was actually more than I expected. I came here and I was an 18-year-old high school student. I graduated early. So I came in at mid-term, I didn't know what to expect. But I learned a lot I can say that. Because I came in under the impression that in the high school frame of mind that I'm that guy. But in college, everybody's that guy and you've got to reframe your thoughts and you've got to learn from your past experience and move on and learn from the older guys that are teaching you how things are going to be. I'm pretty sure that I've learned a lot from the guys that I've played behind these past few years. And I'm glad I can leave a legacy on the younger guys and teach them the role and how to go out there and become a better player.
Another answer that I never would have guessed and a reminder to me and you that the games matter.
Q. So far what's been your favorite memory?
ERIC WARD: My favorite memory? I would say when we played Nevada in 2011. I scored a game-winning touchdown. That was the best feeling I've ever had. It's going to get better. That is the most exciting memory I've ever had playing football here. So I can't say that. That was very exciting for me.
I mean seriously, just love this.
Q. What have you learned this year that maybe you didn't know that you were going to learn by staying and coming back for an extra year?
ERIC WARD: I've learned that this is -- I mean, I already knew this, because football, every guy on the team plays a role. Whether you're playing or on the sideline, everybody has their own role. It takes everybody to go out and win the football game. Not just the ones out there playing, but the ones on the sideline cheering us on to go out there. To have that support system on the sideline, and that intrinsically is motivation to the guys on the team.
- The LAJ has an article on the injury issues (J.J. Gaines, Tre Porter, Dartwan Bush, and Terrance Bullitt) all missing time as starters or part-time starters.
- The LAJ has a notebook of things.
- Congrats to K Ryan Bustin for being named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award.
- SI has bowl projections and Texas Tech is still looking towards the Holiday Bowl.
We have Kingsbury, Hyder and Ward, the co-cordinators, Matt Wallerstedt and Sonny Cumbie, and a video on the Purple Heart that's all really good.