Seth already touched on the health of Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes and DJ Polite-Bray's move to defense. Kenny Williams will stay on offense and special teams. Demetrius Alston and Sam Atoe are close to returning, perhaps this week. Dominique Roberston's status with the tam is unchanged (still not on the roster).
It seems the team is preparing for Mahomes to make his second start as he reportedly received 80% of first team snaps in practice last week. And this situation could play out like the rotation (or lack thereof) of QBs last season. And if you'll remember, Mayfield was named the starter at the beginning of the season. He was replaced by Webb once he went down with an injury. Webb remained the starter even after Mayfield was returned to being healthy enough to play because of the time he lost working with the ones and the commitment/investment in Webb.
Now, obviously, this situation is a little different with Webb coming in with more experience than Mahomes, but consider that this will be Mahomes' third consecutive week of practice as the number 1 quarterback. The question arises at what point is a rusty and possibly not 100% Davis Webb better than a Patrick Mahomes who has three weeks' worth of work with the ones?
On to the quotes.
Up first (after addressing the QBs' health) is how the team is preparing to face a strong Oklahoma rushing team.
Q. Can you talk about what likely will be a lot of rushing from Oklahoma? What is the team working on to try to really stiffen up?
COACH KINGSBURY: We struggled against the run. That's no secret here for the last few years. So you know they've got a great front, great backs. The quarterbacks have done a good job running the football. So it will be a tough challenge. We tried to get ahead a little bit last week on scheme and things of that nature that OU's doing to try and help us with this week. We've got to man up and play better defense; that is the bottom line.
I can certainly envision another game where Oklahoma has their way with the Texas Tech defense on the ground, even without Trey Millard. Samaje Perine and Alex Ross scare me. And I would expect that if Trevor Knight doesn't get the start that offensive coordinator Josh Heupel will lean on those two VERY talented backs to carve up a very soft Tech rush defense.
And speaking of Trevor Knight:
Q. Will you change any defensive schemes if Trevor Knight is not playing?
COACH KINGSBURY: With his run threat I think schematically you have to count for that going in. We'll see if he plays or not, but the other guy they put in I'm sure will be able to do similar things. But Trevor is a tremendous athlete. You definitely have to count for him.
And now onto the offensive preparations against Oklahoma.
Q. What can you do to help DeAndre to get the running game going a little more? Is that having some early success with the passing?
COACH KINGSBURY: You know, I think he's done a good job this year. The last couple games the way it's gone and gotten out of hand. We've gone away from the running game and that's what's going to happen when you get down that much early. But, no, we'll do what we do. Just run our offense.
Q. What is the mentality of the offense going in as far as counting the numbers and going and checking with the play from there? With the way DeAndre's played, the offensive lines have played pretty well too. Do you maybe take some of those and just run them?
COACH KINGSBURY: Yeah, we've done that with these young quarterbacks starting. We've been force feeding him and he's been breaking some tackles and running the ball well against some boxes that aren't really good for the run. So you've got to give him a lot of credit. But when you're playing young quarterbacks, you're not always going to get the best looks, so you've just got to live with it. So we've been doing some of that.
And that's one thing to take into consideration when we complain about Washington not getting the ball more. The defenses haven't really shown a lot of commitment to stopping the Tech passing game. They've been loading up to stop the run, forcing Tech to work the field with the pass, counting on Tech to stop itself with either penalties, turnovers or just general inefficiency. The defenses have been jamming the receivers on the line to disrupt timing and living with mostly one-on-one coverage. We've seen Tech take advantage of this with a couple of big plays, mostly from broken tackles, but not enough to change what the defense is doing. Expect more of the same, especially with young QBs.
I didn't include any quotes from Kingsbury about Senior Day because they weren't very interesting, at least to me. But Washington is asked about Senior Day and I was reminded that he came in with a lot of the graduating seniors. Quite a few of those guys played as true freshmen, as did Washington, but with his redshirt season he's a year behind them now.
Q. Obviously, Senior Day coming up. Guys like Bradley and some of those guys you came in with as freshmen, how much would you like to send these guys off with a good game on Saturday?
DEANDRE WASHINGTON: Yeah, definitely huge. I mean, it's been a pleasure playing with those guys. I mean, especially because I have a special relationship. I came in with the majority of those guys, so it will definitely be huge. I'm definitely going to try to do everything in my power to make sure we send those guys off on a positive note.
And two last quotes before we move onto Pete Robertson's segment
Q. How have you seen this team's mentality as far as the running game goes kind of change? We were joking a couple weeks ago about how it's turned into a running team.
DEANDRE WASHINGTON: I think that's the sense we've been having, especially with the O-line. The progress they've made is definitely huge for us. It's been fun. I think it's definitely something we can keep building off of because it's only getting better. With the young running backs we've got and the young running backs coming in, I can only imagine how this thing might take off.
Q. I see you get pretty hyped sometimes when they're loaded up in the box, and you're still running for a first down.
DEANDRE WASHINGTON: Yeah, all that goes to the O-line. They find ways. I just try to find that one little crease and do what I do.
It's always good to see a great running back attribute (at least part) of his success to the blocking up front. The progress the offensive line has made has definitely been a major factor in the improved running game from a year ago. The biggest difference being the yards per carry (side note: when quickly compiling this table, I was initially surprised to see the drop in carries from 2013 to 2014 despite it being more effective this year. But then I saw that Mayfield had 88 carries, which makes up the difference from 2013 to the projected 2014).
Both players were asked about this team facing a losing season and the possibility of missing a bowl game, and how that is effecting the team right now.
Q. What is the mood in the locker room? You've got to win out to get to a bowl. But it will be another year without a winning Big 12 record.
PETE ROBERTSON: There is no set mood. It's just every day coming to work. We don't try to change our game plan or how we practice based on these three games. We're taking it a game at a time and a day at a time and just come in and work and get ready to face Oklahoma this Saturday.
There's a fine line to balance here of the team not getting too down on itself and letting things snowball and just not caring. I'm not trying to imply one way or another here on the team's demeanor, just something I was thinking about and how this team is reacting, looking at possibly going 3-9, or 6-6. Washington said in his portion that they're taking it one day at a time, that they'll either win one game at a time or lose one and know to prepare for a long off season.
Q. DeAndre talked about playing with the hand you guys are dealt. You have to go out and win all three games. Do you kind of just let it ride and not worry about we've got to do this, we've got to do this, and try to play off the screen?
PETE ROBERTSON: We just try not to worry about it. We just try to play our game. That's every single day, even in the weight room, at practice, and even on Saturdays. We just try not to worry about the three games, whether we're getting to a bowl game or not. We just try to win every single game we can.
And finally he was asked about facing a balanced team like Oklahoma.
Q. (No microphone) Oklahoma can run the ball and Trevor Knight can move with his feet and they can throw pretty well. Do you think this is possibly at this point one of the most balanced offense you've played?
PETE ROBERTSON: At this point after playing TCU and Kansas State, because they did the exact same thing Oklahoma is trying to do, they're going to try to run the ball on us, catch it with some play action and try to throw it over our head. I want to say just a total balanced offense we've seen this year. Because like I said, TCU and Kansas State were also good themselves, but they're probably the most physical team we're going to play so far this year.
This team knows how their opponents are game planning against them. They recognize the Sooners' strengths. It does worry me that they think OU is the most physical team they're going to face, with looking at the results from the two games Robertson listed specifically.