BOULDER University of Colorado head football coach Gary Barnett held his weekly media luncheon Tuesday at the Dal Ward Athletic Center, as Barnett addressed the media during the afternoon press conference. The following are excerpts from the gathering.
On the Kansas Win: “Looking back on Kansas, I thought it was particularly significant the way our team rallied. We did start the game down 14 points after running just one offensive play on the road in an environment that has been tough for us. Our players and coaches showed a lot of poise staying calm, believing in each other, fighting and finding a way to win the game.
“Dominique Brooks’ play (41-yard fumble return for a TD) was obviously big to give us a boost there. The play in the fourth quarter by both sides of the ball, offense and defense, was good. We jarred the ball a couple of times on defense and made some great tackles. Our offensive line really played well, dominating the line of scrimmage. We were able to put together a drive at the end of the game when we needed it, (and) that was really exciting to see. I know for the players it was a relief to know that it was in them and that they could do that. It was good to see them all smiling after the game, and be excited again. This is a really young team and they have not yet learned how to deal with all this stuff, but they are learning. It’s a process, it’s an education and it’s a marathon not a sprint. Hopefully we can capitalize off of that and take advantage of that energy we had at the end of the game and take it toward the opportunities that we have in front of us.”
On the Kansas State Game: “The way the North is, this is like a playoff so every game is critical for everybody. Kansas State and Iowa State are the two teams in control of their own destiny. If Kansas State wins out they play in the Big 12 Championship. If Iowa State wins out, then they do. If we win out we need something to happen and we know that. We can’t control anybody else other than ourselves, and that’s obviously where we’ll spend all of our time, have spent all of our time and will spend all of our time this week just trying to find a way to win this game at home.
“It’s a matchup between two interesting teams, statistically. It’s a pretty good matchup on paper. Both defenses have struggled this year. Both offenses have been inconsistent and both teams are in a position where a berth in the championship game is within our reach with two games left. Hopefully getting them at home is an advantage. It is going to come down to for both teams what is important and what price they are willing to pay (to win) this game.
“Kansas State, offensively, has multiple weapons. (TB Darren) Sproles is obviously leading the conference in all-purpose yards, and he is just a great, great player. It seems like he’s been there for seven or eight years. He is just a tremendous player. He is hard to tackle and he was the difference in the Missouri game. He single-handedly brought them back because they couldn’t tackle him. For the quarterbacks, I am not quite sure who we’re going to see. I would assume both (Allen Webb and Dylan Meier). They do throw the ball more with Meier in the game, and run it more with Webb in the game, so that would dictate our calls a little bit not our defense, but it would dictate some of the calls we made during the course of the game. Webb is an exciting athlete. He can make a lot of plays, he has a live arm and he has big receivers. Much like Missouri they make a lot of big plays. They are a team that goes up and gets the ball; they are very aggressive.
“This is a team that is never out of it. They were down 21-zip to Missouri. You’d think that’d be enough, but it wasn’t. They have (come back) all year. They did it to (Texas) A&M and came back to almost win that game after being down quite a bit. They are a team that you just can’t let down on for a minute, because their big-play capacity is huge.
“On special teams, this matchup has the best two kickers in the conference (in CU’s Mason Crosby and KSU’s Joe Rheem). It will be a good match on special teams. So, statistically these teams match up pretty evenly and that should make for a good ball game.”
On K-State’s QB Situation: “I don’t know if we can call that shot right now; I don’t know what to project there. I think we just prepare for both (quarterbacks). Whatever happens, happens.”
On a Wild Big 12 North Finish: “I have not seen it where there have been so many ups and downs and people can still play for the title. I’ve never been in a conference where at the end it’s still muddled and unclear, where everyone still has a shot (to win the division). ... It’s an interesting year. I think a lot of us saw this coming early on in August.
“We (CU) can’t call this (K-State) game a title game, but if we don’t win this game we can’t play for the title. I do know that. The game after this one for us really means nothing right now. We literally can’t look beyond anything. We just have to find some way to win this game; that is what we have to do, because we are not in control. All you can say (to your team) is that you have a chance to play for it, you have one more game and you just have to see how it all falls (together).”
On CU Finding an Identity: “I still think we are in the process of becoming. Our defense gets a little bit better every week. Frankly, I think we are so young that an identity is probably out of the question at this point of time. I think we are just trying to play our positions and make plays, no matter what the situation is, and no matter who we seem to look like. One, I don’t think anybody is trying to find an identity, and two, I don’t think that there is one there. Everyone is trying to find some way to be a little better than they were the week before in every phase.
“I think we are beyond clinging. I think we are beyond hanging on, but I do think that there are some hanging-on-feelings there. I think the younger guys are hanging on, but I think we have more to us than that. At least I felt that after coming out of the Kansas game and that locker room, that there was a real relief that we can get beyond (simply) getting through all of these things. It was like this renewed vigor, like a renewed enthusiasm and like this new sense of a quest. That’s what I felt coming out of that game.”