Monday's press conference included Kingsbury and the two coordinators (as usual), with QB Davis Webb and LB Kenny Williams joining them. Here is the transcript of the press conference, Videos are embedded below (there wasn't a video of the coordinators released on YouTube, and the link on the athletic department's website is broken.
HC Kliff Kingsbury
First up is Kingsbury and right out of the gate, he's asked about what they're planning on doing to stop Arkansas' (Arkansas's?) ground attack:
Q. You've got another big running team coming in this week, any plans to do something different?
COACH KINGSBURY: Yeah, hopefully we can slow them down a little bit more. They're a talented team on that side of the ball up front. They have two good running backs, both average over 90 yards, a good quarterback, physical receivers, so it will be by far the biggest challenge we've faced.
Q. How do you plan to combat the offensive line?
COACH KINGSBURY: Hopefully, we'll play hard, and that's all you can really answer to that. They've been moving bodies. You watch them up front against Auburn, against Nicholls State and they're tough. Those running backs do a great job finishing runs. So we'll have to play hard, be physical, and be very gap sound.
Welp. If that doesn't inspire confidence. /sarc font
I'm sure this is more Kingsbury being more "hands off" of the defense than him just hoping they're going to somehow be better. Hopefully. There's got to be something there in his honesty, because right now, there doesn't seem to be a lot of options. Seth linked and quoted from things Wallerstedt said, about McElrath being one of the best NG options and wanting to move Alston to DE, so at least we see that they know the defensive linemen are playing out of position.
Later on he is asked about preparing for another team that will try to hold onto the ball and the conditioning of the defense. Kingsbury mentioned that the team is getting more in shape and that they missed some opportunities where they could have gotten off the field or made an interception, but didn't. He points to the team continuing to work on those things to get better.
A few questions later, the penalty situation is addressed.
Q. Can you talk about the penalty situation? I mean, you had seven through the first play of the second quarter, but after that it was pretty minimal.
COACH KINGSBURY: Yeah, it was improved from 15, and one of those was sideline, one was on the number, one was on our quarterback, one was on a kicker when he's saving, game saving tackles. A couple of those you can live with and things that are easily fixable, so we're getting better. It was a big emphasis last week. If we can cut that number in half again, you're right where you want to be. But if we want to win these games coming up, we have to cut that number down significantly.
Something I missed in the game was that stretch (between the first play of the second quarter until those back-to-back penalties on that UTEP fourth down in fourth quarter) was penalty free ball. That is greater than 2 quarters and some of those penalties weren't boneheaded. There's progress, there, even if marginal. Side note: You won't see a duplicate number issue going forward because it seems that players with duplicate numbers (with less seniority) were given new numbers that aren't duplicates. That was quick.
Q. After watching the field, what did you think about the offense's performance with Davis, too?
COACH KINGSBURY: Not where we need to be. Four three-and-outs, I don't think we had that many in probably a three-game stretch last year. So that's a key to our offense is staying on the field and making first downs. It's all fixable. It's all easy plays there to be made. Either we miss a throw, don't catch it, don't block, we get a hold, so the same things keep popping up. It's early, and we're not supposed to be at our best yet, and I know it's coming. They're working hard. The effort is one thing that's standing out on film. They're playing hard. We're just not making the right decisions all the time, and we have to get better.
Maybe it was just that one post-game press conference without much to go on, but the questions being asked seem to be getting more pointed and directed at actual issues. You still get some no-brainers, but I think they're starting to dig and ask meaningful questions.
Q. Davis, how frustrating was it looking at the film and seeing how many times you had a chance to put that game away and just missed it by just a little bit?
DAVIS WEBB: Yeah, I think that's the message we had the first two games is how close we were to really scoring a lot of points and having probably a different finish than we had in the first couple games. We've got to emphasize that this week starting fast and really finishing drives, and that's one thing we're really going to get on to the receivers and me and running backs this week in practice.
If you believe everything coming from the football training facility, it would seem they believe this team is close to turning the corner and really lighting people up. And like many of you have lamented in the comment sections from this weekend, it's frustrating to see how good this team can be, and then fall flat on its face for no apparent reason.
And I've got to give props to one reporter in particular. I can't remember her name, but she is the AP journalist out here and she really got after Webb (kind of). The transcript of her question was garbage, but you can see the point she was going after:
Q. Are you feeling harried in the back when you take the snap in does sometimes it looked like the poise I saw wasn't there yet. Are you feeling rushed?
DAVIS WEBB: No, I feel like I put too much pressure on myself, worrying about things I can't control. Last game my footwork wasn't there all the way. I think it's something me and Coach Kingsbury worked on really hard this week just being settled in the pocket and get better at that. Because if my footwork is a little off, my throw is going to be a little off. There are some throws in that game that I missed that I never miss in practice and stuff like that. So just having that transition in the practice field, just making sure that happens. But I feel like we'll have a good week of practice and definitely harp on that for Saturday.
For someone who thought Williams has looked lost and out of place out there these past couple of games (especially the first), I think it's good to hear that he feels he is getting more comfortable.
Q. Kenny, for you, how much more comfortable are you on the defensive side of the ball starting to make more plays with each passing game?
KENNY WILLIAMS: Definitely a lot more comfortable. Everything's really coming to me. It's my first year really just being on the defensive side of the ball. Going through those games, getting the experiences is really helpful for me. I feel like I'm getting better with every week.
And then there are a couple of quotes about them preparing to face Arkansas, dealing with their size and the defense's motivation.
Q. You're coming up against a very big offensive line and big running game. How do you think that's all going to go?
KENNY WILLIAMS: Really got to prepare ourselves mentally to get into a dog fight. We know what these guys are going to do. They're going to come in and try to run the ball all game and really it comes down to man versus man.
This team knows this game is going to be difficult - in all aspects of the game. The offense is going to have to hit its stride early, the defense is going to have to be prepared to face a physically dominating front and running game, and special teams can't give up the big play to flip the field or a score to the Razorbacks.