Head coach Matt Wells had his weekly press conference along with linebacker Riko Jeffers and offensive lineman Travis Bruffy.
Let’s get to to a bit of the recap from West Virginia, where Wells acknowledges some of the good things and things that need improvement:
And then we wanted to protect the quarterback. That was a huge emphasis for us is just protecting the quarterback — what did they have, eight sacks I think the week before against Baylor, and we gave up none. We had, I think, seven yards of negative rushing, and in the last four weeks, it had been 30 plus, into the 50s, of the last four opponents before us. So that was a big part of not getting behind the chains, not getting our quarterback hit and sacked. So I thought our O-line did a nice job in terms of that. We tried to do everything we did, and I’m proud of our guys.
We hit a lot more goals. It wasn’t good at times, it wasn’t real pretty at times. It’s still not what we want. I thought we played better in the secondary. I do think there is a lot more work to be done there. Our guys know it, our coaches know it. We’re working hard every day to try to tighten that up. We can’t give shots, we can’t give Coach Patterson calls them walk-off homers. We’re giving up a few too many. You’re shaking your head. You agree? I do, too. A few too many in the last month since the Iowa State game, and it’s kind of been an issue, and I’m sure TCU is going to try to hit that and see if we’ve got it fixed, and we’re certainly going to need to do that.
Wells also confirmed in his opening statement that the plan is to redshirt both Alan Bowman and Maverick McIvor:
I’ll address a couple things. Bowman — Alan and Maverick, both of them cleared to play, and certainly it’s our intent to redshirt them both, so we’ll move through the days to come and the weeks to come and continue to see them now lifting for the first time — you know, full-blown lifting with Coach Scholz as well as full practicing. They’d been in parts of practices but have been very, very limited. Obviously you guys saw them suit up and they went through parts of pregame warmup. We’ll go from there.
And Wells was asked for more additional thoughts, namely that the staff talked to Bowman and his parents and it is Bowman’s decision to redshirt and Wells agree, it is the smart thing to do, and Wells also confirms that McIvor could get some reps as the season ends:
Q. You mentioned plans to redshirt Maverick and Alan. Do you approach them with that idea or is there constant dialogue between you all?
MATT WELLS: Good question. Maverick, no, because it’s obvious you’re going to redshirt him, and there’s only possible four games left, three in the regular season with the bowl possibility, so that’s an obvious redshirt. No conversation there.
We talked to Alan last night, talked to his parents. It’s Alan’s decision 100 percent respect it. I agree with it and I respect it. It’s the smart thing to do. It’s the right thing to do. And it’s part of the new rule that I think — and this is a good consequence. You can have good consequences because of a rule, and I’m not sure the rule was intended like this, but it’s going to be used this way, and I think it’s good.
Q. Because of that rule, is there any thought to maybe getting Maverick some reps if that situation comes about?
MATT WELLS: Yeah, solid. Alan could get his fourth game, too. It’s our intent to redshirt both of them, and again, they’re going to have to start lifting and practicing full speed and all that. Now, that’s the other — they play the same position, and there’s only one guy that can go in, and Jett is playing well right now. He’s playing very well.
So you’ve got all those factors involved. Does the situation present itself to get Maverick in the game? Who knows. Who knows. Would we like to? Yeah, we’d love to. So I wanted to get him on the trip last week just so he can get used to a trip and warming up and all those kind of things. But we’ll just see. We’ll take it day by day and really kind of game by game just to see where we’re at, especially with Alan because that’s a little bit different situation than Mav.
Wells also discussed TCU and what they bring to the table and also about a coach who has helped him as a young coach . . . Gary Patterson?
TCU, first of all, it’s a rivalry game for us. It’ll be a big game. I got asked the question earlier today, is there a lot of pressure on your guys. There was a lot of pressure on our guys last week at West Virginia. Backs against the wall, we know what we’re going for. We’re going for the same thing TCU is going for: To be bowl eligible. It’ll be a tough, hard-fought game. This is a program that I got a chance to coach against when I was in the Mountain West, but I’ve known Gary Patterson for a long time, since I was 18 years old. Coached me in college, and really the last six years as I’ve been a head coach he’s done a lot for me just in terms of helping me as a young head coach. He hadn’t talked to me I don’t think in 10 months, but before that I’ve known him for a long time. Great guy, one of the best coaches in the country, longest tenured — one of the longest tenured, and he knows I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for him.
And when I see his teams, they’re tough-nosed, they’re tough, hard-nosed. That defense, the D-line, their secondary is going to be on point. They’ll know everything that we’ve done. So we’ll have to be on point. It’ll be a great game, and it’ll be an extremely competitive game. A lot of respect for TCU.
Looking at their athletes, I mean, Max, that guy is going to be a hard guy to contend with. Again, another great quarterback in the Big 12, dual-threat guy, and sneaky quick, sneaky fast and tough, tough kid. No. 1 is legit, one of the best playmakers in this league. Look at their defense, they’ve got two young D-ends. Man, they can get off the ball. They created a lot of pressure last week on Baylor. They got two really big D-tackles inside. And then they’ve got skill. They’re young guys but they are skillful and fast in the secondary. Very well-coached on defense.
You guys have seen the stats in the Big 12. They’re up there in every single category, and they have been for the last 20 years, so it’s one of the best defensive units we’ll see all year, so it’ll be a major challenge for our guys and our coaches, and we’ll have to be on point. But it’ll be a big week around here to try to see if we can earn the right to even deserve a victory on Saturday.
And what makes TCU so tough:
Q. When you watch TCU play defense, I guess the average viewer just thinks they play really good defense and that’s all. But from a perspective of maybe a little bit Xs and Os what makes them so difficult to play offense against?
MATT WELLS: They know what you’re doing. I mean, the guy is — he is good. He’s a good game planner. Your routes, your protections, your backs, your quarterback’s eyes, mannerisms. I mean, I think all of that goes into how a defense plays because they recruit, they develop. Over the years he’s taken more high school tailbacks and made them D-ends. He’s made them inside linebackers. He’s taken high school option quarterbacks and made them inside linebackers. I’ve gone against them and they are tough, hard-nosed, really good players. I bet they’re football junkies. They’re just tough. They’re blue collar. But they’re smart coaches, and they’ve been in one system and they know that system in and out, and they mix coverages. You see them in man coverage, you see them pressuring, you see them dropping. Four-man front, three-man front. I don’t know, Coach does everything. Very aggressive, very sound, very smart.
And a bit about the two freshmen specialists:
Q. It looked like you’d rather talk about anything else but that. Now you have two mid-season freshmen All-Americans at those positions. Is that just a matter of they’ve just grown up and filled in that role?
MATT WELLS: I think they’ve both matured. I tell our freshmen that are playing — Trey is a redshirt freshman, Austin is a true freshman, Luke will be a true freshman, and we have a handful, six, seven on offense and defense. Game 10 this week, they’re not freshmen anymore. They’ve been playing since the Montana State game, the vast majority of them, and we’re not redshirting a lot of those guys. I think there’s around 10 total-ish, give or take a few. They have matured.
I’ll give Mark Tommerdahl a lot of credit for those three specialists. Mark has done a really nice job bringing them along. We’ve protected them pretty well. We’ve protected the field pretty well, we’ve protected the punt pretty well. Luke has done a nice job, been consistent. They have matured, you’re right, and they’ve gotten games where there’s been wind. We haven’t had major bad conditions, but they’ve had some wind, not just here at home but on the road. There was some wind Saturday. And there was wind at Baylor. Probably the most wind we’ve had all year has been in Waco, counting any home game. My trainers aren’t in here. They do all that wind stuff for me.
But I’m proud of those guys. And they deserve the recognition they’re getting. Hopefully they’ll finish the year strong.
And a bit of an update on Evan Rambo, SaRodorick Thompson, and Desmond Smith:
Q. What’s the status of Evan Rambo and SaRodorick Thompson and Desmond Smith?
MATT WELLS: All day-to day. Des suited up, was ready to go last week. As kind of an emergency guy, but he is day-to-day, kind of seeing how much he can do this week and can he go further. I certainly think he is a lot closer and it should be real soon. Could be this week, I don’t know, he’s day-to-day. Evan, same thing, day-to-day. SaRodorick came out of the game better, good. I’m glad he came out of the game the way he did, and I’m hopeful I guess I would say this week. I don’t know the questionable doubtful, he’s day-to-day, too.
RedRaiderSports’ Brandon Soliz breaks down what the two coordinators said, offensive coordinator David Yost and defensive coordinator Keith Patterson. Here’s a bit about Patterson (with both coordinators thoughts there):
– The defensive line’s ability to create pressure with only three players helped the Red Raiders in winning the numbers game against the Mountaineers, which led to help in the secondary. That was a challenge the defensive staff made with the Broderick Washington, Tony Bradford, Eli Howard and the rest of the pass rushers. The counter to that is they could send multiple guys at once, too, to keep the opponent off-balance and that turned into nine tackles for loss and two sacks this past Saturday.
– Patterson said the various causes for moving people around in the secondary, like injuries and experience, holds a team back when it comes to developing fundamentals consistently which can lead to some of those big plays. Patterson said aggressiveness was the key in West Virginia’s five trips down to the red zone where the Red Raiders stopped them four times.
Avalanche-Journal’s Don Williams has a notebook from yesterday’s media availability with Bruffy and Yost discussing running back Ta’Zhawn Henry’s ability and providing updates on running back SaRodorick Thompson, who did not play the second half of the West Virginia game:
“I think we all share the same confidence in Ta’Zhawn,” offensive tackle Travis Bruffy said. “We’ve all seen him play. He’s one of the most elusive running backs in the conference, in my opinion.
“I think ‘questionable’ for SaRodorick translates to ‘likely.’ That guy is a fighter. He’s been banged up since I’ve known him, but he fights through everything. There’s no bit of adversity he can’t overcome.”
Offensive coordinator David Yost seconded that idea.
“We fully expect that we’ll have SaRodorick,” Yost said Monday. “I expect he’ll be able to get back in at some point this week and be there for us on Saturday. That’s just part of the position.”