HEAD COACH DAN HAWKINS
ON WHETHER TEXAS TECH IS DIFFERENT THAN LAST YEAR—“They are a little bit different defensively, not a bunch different, but some different from last year. Offensively, again, I think you need to be able to keep them off balance. Obviously you can’t line up and do the same things you did last year because they’re obviously going to watch that as well. Then there is the turnover factor, hopefully you’re able to get some turnovers again.”
ON TEXAS TECH DEFENSE—“More then anything else I think it’s simplified a little bit, they aren’t quite as complex as they were before.”
ON WHETHER TEXAS TECH HAS TROUBLE STOPPING THE RUN—“You know it is always hard to accurately gauge that because sometimes you are playing teams that throw it a lot more then they run it. So it’s not necessarily that they can’t stop the run, it’s that you are playing teams that are throwing it a lot more than they are running it.”
ON THE TEXAS TECH OFFENSE—“You know they are just a little bit better when they get under center, but they are just a little different in terms of how they attack you. It is hard to describe them, different plays, different schemes, different protections.
“You don’t want them to continue to get ample opportunities and get into a rhythm. I think the more you can limit that the more you’re going to be able to help yourself. That being said you’re going to have to be able to put points on the board, you can’t just be hanging on to the ball. Certainly they are an offense that the more opportunities you give them the more chances you have to get beat.”
ON TEXAS TECH WR MICHAEL CRABTREE—“He’s great, the guy is really, really good. Really fast, can go get the ball and can run with it. He’s a great player.”
ON CONVERSATIONS ABOUT GETTING TO THE POSTSEASON—“There are a lot of things out there and there is a lot of football left. We’re just trying to focus on the task at hand and we’ve tried to take that approach all the way along. You sit around and have all the speculation. You better win this week and you better win the next week and you better win the next week and you better win the next week.”
ON TEAM MORALE—“We’ve got a good football team, we do. But we’re also playing a great schedule. So we just have to be a little bit more efficient and create a couple more things here or there. I’ve said this before: No one wants to be close, but I don’t think you have to sit around and mope when you’re in the thick of it. You just have to grab a couple more opportunities. We’re playing great football teams and there are still a few of them left on the schedule so we’ve got to get going.”
ON WHAT MISSOURI DID TO SLOW DOWN TEXAS TECH’S OFFENSE—“They kept them off balance like any good defense. I think just mixing it up and providing a variety of things. You can’t just do one thing; they will be able to get after you. You have to keep them off balance.
ON GETTING GPRESSURE ON TEXAS TECH—“Obviously you can bring some guys but then you’re sacrificing some stuff on the back end, so I think [Defensive Coordinator] Ron’s [Collins] done a really good job of putting together a plan that tries to limit what teams have done. For the most part he’s been pretty doggone successful. When you look at both yardage and you look at scoring, he’s done a pretty good job of hammering some pretty good offenses. So I think we just have to keep staying with that kind of approach.
ON PUTTING IN OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE WRINKLES AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON—“It’s easy—probably too easy. Particularly on offense we’ve had so many new guys and young guys that the more you go the easier it is. You’ve got guys like [freshman OL] Ryan Miller that are just kind of new in the fray. The more experience they get the better it is for them to be able to handle some of those things.”
ON HIS POSITION GROUPINGS—“I think it has to do with several factors. One is being able to utilize each guy’s skills because they all do have different skills. If you have one guy who is great in all those areas that has tremendous strength, tremendous experience, tremendous speed and can do all those things then he plays in more of those groupings. But that’s a lot of it is trying to get each guy in a spot where they can do what they do best. I think there is obviously a chemistry component to the thing as well. You’re generally not going to have your starting tailback pack it 30 times a game and make it the whole season. Someone is going to have to come in and probably play. So you’re able to build on the whole team atmosphere as well and no ton just one particular guy.”
ON WHETHER THE OFFENSE HAS BENN STRUGGLING—Not really, we’re playing really good teams. We’ve played eight games so far—where would you rank our offensive efficiency in the
ON WHETHER PLAYERS ARE PRESSING TO MAKE PLAYS—“We try to put it into a form of: If it was a confidence thing or a knowledge thing, can we get this guy more reps at it so he feels better or knows what’s going on? Or can we put him in a position where he can get more reads or catch more balls or be in a position to improve on that actual performance?”
ON TURNOVERS—“The area where we have not been real good at when you look statistically where we are at is kind of in terms of fumbles lost and fumbles gained. We’re kind of about there with everybody else. Where we are not good is in interceptions lost and interceptions gained. We’re probably twice as much on the interceptions and twice as low on the interceptions gained. You just have to continue to work on that and through a process of getting better and a little bit of experience and guys having a little bit more savvy, you try to snap that.”
On his formula for offensive efficiency—“You look at down and distance and you look at the amount of yards you need in those situations and the percentages in terms of what you’re getting in those categories. You you’re looking at the amount of efficiency in terms of actually achieving that goal. So every down and distance has its own measure stick that you’re looking for. That goes along with any play, any formation, any spot on the field—they all have their own category as well.”
ON WHAT A BOWL GAME WOULD MEAN TO THE PROGRAM—“Right now we are playing in the Red Raider Bowl in
ON PLAYING IN LUBBOCK—“I think it will be great. Anytime you go down into that part of the country you’ve got people that are very avid football fans. Obviously one of the couple of games we won last year was against them so they will obviously have their horns out because of that. Having lost last week they will have a lot of firepower, they will have a lot of reasons to get fired up.”
CB Terrence Wheatley
ON THE TEXAS TECH OFFENSE—“I think more than being a physical challenge it’s from a mental standpoint because they do pass the ball from a different amount of formations, different amount of routes, you definitely have to bring your ‘A-Game’ to the table, that’s for sure. So just from a mental standpoint they do present some challenges especially for the secondary with different coverages and stuff. This will definitely be the biggest challenge of the year, by far.”
ON PREPARING FOR TEXAS TECH—“I don’t think you start from square one, you probably want to do something similar to what you did last year. You know you don’t want to run the same coverages or from an offensive standpoint, run the same plays because you know they’ll probably have that scouted pretty well. You want to throw some wrinkles in there, do something similar but at the same time do something they haven’t seen before, different formations but a similar play. Whatever it may be, but running the same stuff probably isn’t the best idea. Just looking at last year’s film definitely gives us an idea of what we can do as far as game planning.”
ON LAST YEAR’S GAME WITH TEXAS TECH AFTER THE GAME WAS OUT OF REACH—“Their wide receivers stopped running routes hard, started jogging and you can kind of get a sense of who is getting the ball from who was running hard at the time. Hopefully we can do that again this year, that’ll be nice. Last year you could kind of tell that they weren’t expecting us to do what we did and play as hard as we did. They kind of expected us to lay down last year and we didn’t and it was a little bit of a shock to the system for them and hopefully we can do it again.”
ON GETTING PRESSURE ON TECH QB GRAHAM HARRELL—“Yeah, the pass rush is nice. When you look at what he does, it looks like he is just sitting back there throwing darts. He’s just sitting back there letting it rip. If we create some pressure, hit him a few times, hopefully that’ll rattle him a little bit. We hit him a few times last year and he seemed to get a little antsy in the pocket and let a few passes go that he probably wishes he could have back and didn’t let go. I just hope that we can get to him and let him know that he isn’t going to be completely comfortable and be able to, basically, do what he wants to do. He’s the type of guy who will survey all of his options just because he is so smart. You can’t let a guy like that do that. You have to tell him, ‘Hey you can look at your first, second and third and after that you better be running for your life.’ Hopefully we can do that coming off the edge or coming up the middle or blitzing but there has to be a way to get pressure that way. You can’t just sit there and let him get comfortable and do what he wants to do.
“I think we were hitting them pretty good [last season] and after a little bit you could see he didn’t want to get hit like that again. There were a few times that he probably let one go too early, he didn’t go through his whole progression, he’d look at his first and second option then got rid of it. I think we need to do the same thing, we need to get into his head a little bit and not just let him sit back there and pass it like he is playing a video game or something where he can go ‘I have all the time in the world to survey the field.’ You just want to get in his head a little bit, knock him around a few times and let him know that we’re here and hopefully he’ll throw us a few like he did last year.”
ON TEXAS TECH WR MICHAEL CRABTREE—“He’s just good. He’s good, he’s big, he’s fast, he’s strong; for a freshman it’s almost not even fair watching it on film to be honest with you. He’s a big guy, he’s smart and he is really competitive and I think that is what separates him from a lot of wide receivers. I haven’t seen him back down from anybody yet and he is in an offense where he is going to get the ball a lot. They are going to throw the ball to him a lot because he likes to compete and when he gets it you better tackle him because he’s going to try and run you over, unlike most receivers. It’s going to be an excellent challenge for the secondary to go against an offense like this, in particular a guy like this who so far this season hasn’t backed down from anybody no matter who they are.”
ON LACK OF TURNOVERS—“I kind of agree with him [Coach Hawkins], I guess if you don’t turnover the ball and get a lot of interceptions then it is definitely an area we need to work on and we stress it in practice. For some reason or another we just can’t do it in the games. It is just real frustrating when you look at the numbers and you see how many times we don’t get interceptions and it’s just frustrating because we stress it every day in practice and now we just have to find a way to carry it over into the games. Once we improve in that area I think we will be a lot better defense.”
ON BECOMING BOWL ELIGIBLE—“I think for us older guys we have an easier time of focusing on what we need to do because I’ve been around long enough that stranger things have happened to me. I think it was my sophomore year we went to the
ON RETURNING KICKS—“I’ve definitely had some frustrating moments, it always seems like I’m one guy away and I’ve been saying that for two or three weeks. You know it’s just a good opportunity for me to go out there and help the team, and if we can just get that one guy blocked every time we could do something good. It’s just frustrating some time when you know you’re one guy away, but it definitely helps the team when they are starting on the 35 or so which is a big improvement from last year. I just go out there and try to run down the field as far as I can and shorten the field for them. Hopefully we’re getting better and hopefully we can bust a big one this game.
“Yeah, that’s definitely the goal (to return it for a touchdown), that’s your goal every time you touch the ball. It’s up to the guys in front of me to block for me and if I get a hole then that’s it. It’s just a matter of blocking that one guy I guess.”
ON TEXAS TECH QB GRAHAM HARRELL—“He is probably one of the best I’ve faced, as far as from a mental standpoint it seems like he knows everything. You watch him operate on film and he knows where all of his wide receivers are going to be, and even if they run a slightly different route than they are supposed to it’s like he already knows it. To me it is just amazing the type of relationship he has with his receivers. He realizes the mismatches created by the offense, he recognizes them and the ball is going over there immediately. So you have that, and from a physical standpoint he has one of the better arms in the country. He puts the ball either where his receiver is going to get it or nobody is going to get it. He is definitely one of the best I’ve faced so far.”
ON FOCUSING ON WR MICHAEL CRABTREE—“No you cannot, not with their offense, not with the weapons they have. Especially with their offense, especially with Harrell back there if you start to key on one guy he’ll pick you apart. This is definitely one team, one offense that you can’t focus in on one guy even though he is as good as he is, even being one of the best in the country because they’ll make you pay.”
ON PLAYING A SPREAD OFFENSE—“They’re similar to Baylor in terms of some of their offensive sets.
ON THE COLLAR TACKLE HE RECEIVED AGAINST KANSAS—“Yeah, it was a bit of a rough landing actually, it actually caught be by surprise. I didn’t think he was going to grab be, basically inside my jersey, I guess I just think that if the NFL thinks that it should be banned that the NCAA should at least look into it. I mean I don’t know how many injuries we’ve had in the NCAA as a result of that but I know that the NFL had enough that they felt they had to look into it. I just think the NCAA should look into it, to protect the players just because it is such an abrupt change in direction when you’re running full speed and it can hurt people. I would recommend that they look into it.”
QB CODY HAWKINS
ON TEXAS TECH DEFENSE—“I think they are very fast on defense, they are very athletic and they make a lot of plays. They are a defense that lines up, plays hard and sees what happens, they obviously put their offense in a lot of good situations and it’s easy to see why. You’re watching film and their DBs are flying around making plays, their D-lineman are getting in the face of opposing quarterbacks and they are just very athletic and they play hard.
ON TRYING TO HELP THE OFFENSE—“I am the quarterback a lot of the responsibility is mine and I definitely have to pick things up and start playing. I think being more accountable and [I have to] keep working on things and working towards things and striving to achieve perfection. Playing with a short memory, not worrying about the plays in the past and just playing each play like it’s a new play and trying to make things happen and do what my coaches ask me to do on each play.”
ON DROPPED PASSES—“I don’t say anything to anybody, I’m never going to rip anybody because as long as they’re out there giving 100 percent I’m not going to criticize the execution. Effort I think you can criticize but not necessarily their execution because sometimes when it is a dropped ball I could have put it in a better spot and they’re playing their hardest and it isn’t my job to tell them what they can or should be doing. I just try to keep them up and tell them ‘You know, we’re going to need you next time, we’re going to need you to make the next play.’ I am friends with all of the guys; yes, I am the quarterback and it can be frustrating at times but when you’re playing hard things are going to happen. Guys are going to fumble the ball, guys are going to throw interceptions, guys are going to drop passes; you just have to try to limit those things as much as possible.”
ON HIS INTERCEPTIONS—“I don’t think I have ever gone into a game where I said I’m not going to throw an interception, I think if you look at a lot of them, even the one at the end of the half was tipped and the one to [TE] Tyson (DeVree) we just had a miscommunication on a route between me and Tyson. When you are going to throw the ball as much as we do, especially with as many young guys as we have in the mix on the O-line, receivers and running backs in protection and getting out in routes it is just something that has to be very precise every time you do it. Obviously interceptions are going to happen when you aren’t doing everything perfect every time. You’re also much more likely to throw interceptions if you’re afraid to make a mistake on every play. Like I said, playing with a short memory is very important because if I throw a pick down the middle and we call a play and we have it set up and they’re playing cover two and we have a guy streaking down the middle I have to get it to him and not just totally pass him up because I’m scared because I threw an interception last time.
“A lot of it is just coverage and coverage recognition stuff, part of it against
ON THE TEAM TALKING ABOUT BOWL GAMES—“No, I think that there are people on campus who have asked about that but I haven’t heard anyone in the locker room mention that. Everyone has done an awesome job just focusing on the next game and no body has made any plans. I mean regardless of what bowl game you go to, I don’t think anyone has made any plans to go home for Christmas, we’re all about football right now and we’re trying to win football games right now. We have to beat Texas Tech, then
ON TE TYSON DEVREE—“Tyson is a great player, when he is healthy and he’s rolling then he’s a tough guy to stop. He’s big, fast, athletic, good hands and works hard. He’s definitely an awesome weapon for this offense. I think when you can have a body like that where you can make defenses be conscious of where he is then it opens up lanes for other guys.”
ON TEXAS TECH QB GRAHAM HARRELL—“You always hear about Texas Tech’s numbers, he’s a very smart guy and when we were in the hotel the other day I had a chance to watch part of their game and he really tore those guys apart, throwing the ball on time. I think last week he had a little bit of a tough time against Missouri, they didn’t do so hot and he had like four interceptions but when you have an offense like their offense and you throw the ball as much as they do interceptions are going to happen. I mean how many of those were his fault? Probably none of them if you were to watch what was going on, but unfortunately that’s what happens. Guys are saying ‘You know Graham (Harrell) is struggling,’ but just watching the highlights I didn’t think any of them were really his fault. He’s a very confident guy, they have a great scheme going, they have great receivers so he is definitely a guy who if you aren’t on top of your game he is going to make you pay because he executes everything he does very well.”
ON TEXAS TECH RUN DEFENSE—“Texas Tech reacts very fast; I think some guys have been running the ball on them. It’s kind of a bummer I was watching the Oklahoma State game and the D-Coordinator resigned after that game and I feel pretty bad for that guy and his whole family because basically the touchdown that they lost on was a 5-yard route and they missed three tackles and Okie State has some great athletes and it was their tight end who probably is going to go to the NFL. I mean he breaks some tackles and scores a touchdown. I mean he put his guys in a position to make plays and the ball was almost intercepted. Then two more of