One of my favorite days is press conference day. I’m not sure, but I like seeing and hearing the coaches, win or lose. I know that most of it is coach-speak, but sometimes, you get something to hang your hat on where you maybe learn something or see something that you weren’t sure about before. For instance, last week, Gibbs said that the point of the defense is so that the coaches know exactly why a particular play is being called. Seems pretty simplistic, but I liked thinking about that and it made me realize the time it takes to develop trust and instinct with a defense.
All of the quotes can be found here. Let’s go.
1. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury was asked about the Arkansas defense:
Q. Everyone was talking about the rushing attack and the passing attack. When you look at the Arkansas defense at the end of last year was phenomenal and this year has put up big numbers. Does that worry you at all?
COACH KINGSBURY: Anytime you play a defense like they have I think they’re giving up 12 points a game in their last ten games. In this day and age in college football, that’s phenomenal, so, yes. Across the board they’re very physical. They don’t make mistakes. You can tell they’re well-coached. They tackle you in space, so it’s going to be a great challenge for our offense.
2. You all have noticed how Patrick Mahomes has spread the ball around to a handful of different receivers. Actually, two handfuls of receivers, eleven receivers overall. Pretty interesting how the receivers are playing fewer and fewer plays, as is the rest of the team and you’re starting to see that depth may be paying off.
Q. Patrick in the first two games has found 11 different receivers. How much does that help you with your offensive game?
COACH KINGSBURY: It’s good to get everybody involved. Pat does a good job of going through his reads, going through his progressions, not honing in on one guy. I talked about it in camp. We felt like we had enough depth to rotate more bodies through and take some plays off guys, where last year they may have played 60, 70, 80 plays, the most any of those wide receivers played was around 45 last week. That’s what we want. We want to keep them fresh, be able to rotate more bodies in, so that’s a testament to that.
3. Kingsbury doesn’t take the bait about whether or not Arkansas is actually beatable, but this team really cannot afford to think that way:
Q. Arkansas’ loss proves they are a beatable team. But at the same time they’re coming into this week extremely angry. Do you have any concerns you think that that loss helped or hurt you guys at all in your chances?
COACH KINGSBURY: I’d never look at it that way. I hope our guys are extremely angry as well going in there. But they’re a great team. That loss to me doesn’t change who I thought they were prior to the season. They’re a top 20 team. Everybody has a bad day. You’ve got to take your hat off to Toledo. They had a year to prepare for that team, and Arkansas hadn’t seen them on film in 2015, and they came out and played a great game.
4. Defensive coordinator David Gibbs is up next and he’s asked if he thought that the defense improved and . . . welp . . . the answer is no:
COACH GIBBS: No, I did not. You know what, we gave up a 91-yard run; that’s not acceptable. The crazy thing was it’s probably the easiest run they ran all day, which just lets you know where we are. The good news is within this game, within the system we all know who is responsible for the play, so we get it corrected and move on. But if you can’t stop a basic iso in football, we might as well not even head down to Arkansas this weekend because they’ll run 50 of them. But the kids played hard. Obviously didn’t start out very well, but they kept fighting. You know, it is what it is. We’ll continue to work to get better.
There’s just no relief here from Gibbs, which I find fascinating and necessary. And next, Gibbs is asked about if the front seven is good enough, and how about that ending quip:
Q. Looking at last year’s tape, where do you feel the front seven is this year compared to where they were then?
COACH GIBBS: I actually just got done watching it for about the fifth time and not so much for the outcome, just to watch how our guys competed and fought. I said it when I got here, what happens to bad defenses is they start doing their own thing and they start jumping out of gaps. I’m in there with the coaches asking what the defense is and why is so and so here when he should be there. It starts up front. If your front doesn’t play very good, then your linebackers have no chance. If your linebackers have no chance, your safeties have no chance. I’d like to think we’re a little bit better, but, again, I’m not the guy to sit here and talk on Monday. We’ll find out 6:00 o’clock Saturday night because there is nowhere to hide.
5. There are no shortcuts with playing the big guys up front, and Arkansas has plenty of them.
Q. You talked about your guys up front and how they need to remain strong. You’re going to face the biggest O-line in football, what exactly are you expecting of your defense?
COACH GIBBS: Just to lineup properly, play with proper technique, take the proper foot work, hand placement, things you coach, things that you can control. You can’t control that their offensive line is ginormous and they’re bigger than all the NFL teams too. You go out there and play with technique and do your job. I think it then comes down to Xs and O’s, and can you tackle their running backs? If you go up there and try to do crazy things against a 6’8″ 350-pound guy, he’s obviously going to kill you and knock you into somebody else and that’s going to cause more problems. We’re going to get a crazy shot from them, which they usually don’t have to do this early in the season, but after just getting beat, I know the head coach. I know what’s coming.
We all know what’s coming. Every danged one of us.
6. Offensive coordinator Eric Morris is asked about the turnovers, or lack thereof, and how this has helped the offense:
Q. Coach Kingsbury has hit on the turnover margin a lot. Right now you guys are third nationally in turnover margin. How has that impacted your offense and helped you guys accomplish what you want to do so far this season?
COACH MORRIS: Yeah, it makes you not have to be perfect. You know, during the course of the game and you’re turning over and you’re not getting any, at times it seems like you have to have perfect drives and call perfect plays. That with the combination of No. 5 with him scrambling around and making some plays on his own keeps the drives alive and helps things. We think a couple of guys have done a great job moving the chains. Jakeem’s running some great routes to keep our downs, keep us on the field. Keep us moving. I thought we played extremely fast. We played really good up front last week. When you get the run game established like we had it, it makes those safeties start stepping down so you can take some shots over their head. So, yeah.
7. The pressure for the offense to perform without turnovers is something that can have an effect over time. I also found Morris’ comments about confidence with the team intriguing from the standpoint that he didn’t talk about confidence at all, but he talked about was how the team was happy. Yeah, happy.
Q. Do you sense a confidence with the offense that you haven’t seen over the last few years?
COACH MORRIS: I think so. I told the guys the other day the coolest play to me on tape is when we scored on he owe when DeAndre scores a touchdown and there are about ten guys that jump on and they all show up there in the end zone and celebrate with him. I haven’t seen that in the last two years here with everybody playing together as one and happy for each other and celebrating with each other when things are going good, and actually picking people up too when people do drop balls or get penalties. Guys are encouraging each other. So they played a lot together. I think they’re carrying themselves well now. Anytime you have success that kind of comes along with it. You always say the most excited team to play the game usually wins the game and you’re excited because you’re doing good things out there.
8. I also liked the comment that Morris had about the freshmen receivers. This doesn’t amount to much, I just liked reading it.
Q. The freshmen receivers progress in week one to week two? Talk about the snaps from last week?
COACH MORRIS: Good. I thought Keke played really good in his limited time. Played fast and it kind of slowed down for him a little bit. Good to get Tony Brown a catch there at the end. You can see what he does in the open field. Giles played more than both of them. Didn’t get him a ball. He was open on the corner route. Threw to him a little bit there. But he had two touchdown blocks which sprung a touchdown, he’s having fun. He probably has the best look of them pregame. He wants the football during the game. He just kind of has that mentality during the course of the competition that he wants the ball in his hands which is good to see. We have guys in front that are extremely good. It’s kind of perfect where they can serve the role of backup and get some time here and there. But you really don’t want — you want 6, 11, 12, and 2 or 14 in the game at all times.
9. DeAndre Washington was asked about Arkansas getting beat and if that helps, or hurts, Texas Tech’s situation:
Q. Do you feel like it helps or hurts you the fact that they got beat because now they’re coming in with a huge chip on their shoulder and they’re furious and they have so much more to prove?
DEANDRE WASHINGTON: I really don’t think it made too much of a difference. You’ve still got to lineup and play those guys. You still got to go into those guys’ home stadium. So I really don’t think — I’m pretty sure after how they played us last year they feel they have a certain level of confidence. So regardless of how they played last week, I’m sure they’re feeling pretty confident about us.
That’s pretty much the right answer. Washington is becoming one of my favorite players to listen to. Oh, and he doesn’t get caught up in the SEC stuff when asked (Pawwwwllllll) if the SEC is more dominant:
Q. Does it bug you when you hear about the SEC and what a dominant conference they are and the rest of the Power Five kind of seemed to fall in line? Is it the talent gap is so far apart?
DEANDRE WASHINGTON: No, I think it’s just fine, man. You can talk a lot, but you know, you won’t really be able to tell until you see a lot of them play. They’ve got some great players in their conference. We’ve got some great players in our conference. You’ve got to lineup and play and that’s when you’ll be able to tell.
10. Micah Awe also affirms that Gibbs is making sure that everyone keeps their head and is accountable. This feels right.
Q. Coach Gibbs said looking at last year’s tape he kind of noticed a bunch of guys maybe toward the end of the game, I think you might have the defense in general, but would you kind of do your own thing if things start to break down a little bit? Is that something you noticed on the tape that maybe defensive plays weren’t exactly being executed?
MICAH AWE: I mean, last year we had a lot of issues to say the least. But this year Coach Gibbs is keeping us very accountable. There are definitely no favorites out there. You do your job, you don’t do your job, you don’t play. Simply put. So even if we’re down 60 or up 60, you better be doing your job. I believe in my teammates this year. I haven’t seen it yet to where someone just completely broke down and went back to their street ball ways, but that’s what Coach Gibbs, you know he’s going to watch film tomorrow. You know he’s going to put it up there so don’t do it. That’s what we’re trying to do is keep doing our job and what we’ve been taught.