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October 7, 2014

Clint Bowen

CLINT BOWEN:  Welcome home.  We went through the first week of the transition that we had.  I thought the players did a great job of handling the situation, the transition, avoiding distractions, and had a great week of preparation.
Going into the West Virginia game, obviously we played a very good West Virginia team on the road, didn't play well enough to win as a team.  We emphasized three things going into that game, which were to show up and play hard for four quarters.  I believe our players did a nice job of doing that, stayed together, stayed with the plan, and besides playing more physical and playing tough, we improved there, but we were not good enough.
We emphasized playing smart, which obviously on that one with the amount of penalties we had and things, we didn't pull that off.
You go on the road against a very good team and you only get one of the three things that you truly emphasized, that's kind of the result we get.
Now moving on to another Big 12 opponent, Oklahoma State, who has a very talented team, has some youth on it, but playing at an extremely high level, sitting on 4‑1 for the year, only loss being to Florida State early in the season, and it's a very well‑coached and talented team that Mike Gundy has put together.¬† Sitting there averaging on offense 39 points a game, definitely have some play makers, have a quarterback, Daxx Garman, who's replacing J.W. Walsh and doing a nice job getting the ball out.
They have a corps of wide receivers, four of which have 14 receptions or more, all four of them very good players.
They've got the two running backs, Roland, but then Tyreek Hill, who has kind of blown up on the scene as far as the Big 12, a guy that's extremely fast, played at one of the Kansas junior colleges, Garden City, coached by Matt Miller out there, does a nice job.
And then on defense, Glenn Spence is their D‑coordinator who always does a nice job, well‑respected coordinator for a long time, aggressive team, and do a nice job on that side of the ball.
And then special teams‑wise, once again, Tyreek Hill factoring in as a return guy, and then Ben Grogan doing a nice job as their kicker.
We're ready for this challenge, ready to go at it another week, prepare for a home game against Oklahoma State.  Any questions?

Q.  You had so much success last week.  How does that happen?  Is that just maturity, or what do you have to do to keep holding them to three when you could have hung your heads?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, each of those were a little bit different situations.  It seems like the first drive with the screen pass where we missed several tackles, had it defended but missed tackles, and Kevin White makes a nice play.
Seems like the second one was kind of a new wheel route that they ran.  We ended up getting the pass interference, moving it down.
The third one I think maybe or the second one was the reverse play that got us some yards.  Each one of them we did, we gave up one play in there, and then I think once we got into the red zone the kids settled back down, and the shortened field helped us a little bit, and we picked up the advantage a little bit in the red zone.  It was just each one of those drives had a play in there that caught us, but once we settled back down, I think the kids were ready to stop them and had some nice red zone stops.

Q.  When you went back and watched the film, did you see positives in that second half with the way you guys played on both sides of the ball, or what did you take away from the way you played there?
CLINT BOWEN:¬† Yeah, the biggest positives we take away from the second half was that our kids came out, the players came out from halftime, they stayed together.¬† The sideline still had a lot of energy, still had a lot of excitement with it.¬† Players were still at the end of the game competing and playing hard and talked about for four quarters playing that way.¬† In the end, there's no moral victories, and we didn't win‑‑ you win the whole game or you don't win any of it, but we did compete the entire game, and that was an extremely positive thing to see.

Q.  I'm sure you've been part of teams where one side of the ball is playing really well or the offense is playing well.  How do you keep everything kind of together so there's not maybe any divide between the offense and defense?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, we always emphasize that we are a team.  It is our team, and we're all in it together.  It's not any of that.  It's always encourage and help your teammates and take care of your job, I mean, until one side of the ball plays a perfect game, and giving up 26 points on the defensive side of the ball is far from being perfect.  Until everyone is doing something perfect, then you've always got chances to improve yourself, so everyone needs to focus on their own world and know that we're all in it together and continue on that path.

Q.  What do you look for this week in your quarterback, I guess, in practice, and part of making the decision for you, how soon do you think you need to do it for Saturday?
CLINT BOWEN:  You know, we'll have three solid preparation days, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week.  All three quarterbacks will get opportunities to go out there and perform and prepare to play in the game on Saturday, and we'll see which ones are handling the parts of the offense that they can control and are best making the decisions that need to be made.  Toward the end of the week we'll make a decision on who's going to play, if not all three of them.

Q.  When you're looking to get the offense going or make changes or whatever it is, do you look big picture as far as what we can do moving forward the rest of the season, or do you have to look at it still week to week because of the opponent and how you have to game plan for that?
CLINT BOWEN:  You know, the offensive coaches, Reagan and Kiesau and all those guys, they've been working on anything that we can do within our system, within our personnel to put us in a better chance to move the ball and get some first downs and score some points and have complete faith in the plan that they're coming up with and the ideas that they're starting to implement this week will pay off, and always continuing to look to the future to see what gives us the best chance.

Q.  You said last week that when you talked with John, you said you haven't thought much about offense in a while.  Has that changed over the last couple of days?  Have you put input in there, too, or left it to them?
CLINT BOWEN:  You know, I'm not going to jump around and get all in their business, but obviously we talked.  There were things that between the two of us we discussed, whether it be just personnel issues, who's playing well and playing what and how they're playing, ways to keep the team excited and ready to go, and then there were some other deals in there about ideas of things I see that I feel our team is part of the offensive system already that could help us out.

Q.  Tony Pearson, something along those lines? 
CLINT BOWEN:¬† Obviously Tony is a talented young man, very explosive, very fast, and I think it's something that we just have to do on our team.¬† When you have a player of his caliber, he needs to touch the ball.¬† They've been working hard on ways to get him to touch the ball, but it hasn't materialized in the game.¬† That's something that they're conscious of, and I believe they're going to‑‑ there will be a concerted effort to make sure that Tony becomes a major part of the game.

Q.  Are they taking him away or is it the struggles or the offense as a whole?
CLINT BOWEN:¬† Yeah, I think it's kind of a combination of all the things that‑‑ and they have, they've been creative with him.¬† He's played some tailback, he's played some wide‑out, they've gotten him the ball different ways, but yeah, a lot of the time at wide‑out, you getting the ball is dependent on other people, and I think some of those have led to situations that even though maybe it was designed to go to him, it couldn't get there.

Q.  Is that why Nigel had so much success last week?  Maybe they're paying attention to Tony and Harwell and maybe somebody has got to benefit from that?
CLINT BOWEN:  I don't know, I think his number just got called at the right time and worked out a little bit better there.  I didn't seen an overemphasis on overplaying Tony from what West Virginia was doing.

Q.  You talked about the man free coverage they played and rolling an extra guy in the box.  Does your team now just have to prove you can throw the football?
CLINT BOWEN:  Definitely.  You go into every game as a defensive coach, and it's old and true in the sky that you've got to stop the run first.  If teams can run the ball on you, there's very limited risk in moving the ball down the field.  They throw it, two of the three things are positive for the defense, you can be incomplete or get an interception, something along those lines.  You've got to take away the run first.  When a team can pack the box in there on you, it makes life difficult for an offense, if you can't throw the ball and loosen them up.  We do, we have to find ways to make teams be honest in what they do defensively.

Q.  Are you looking at any more changes?  You said guys that earned the right to play will play.  We saw Joe Gibson going in there late.  Is his job going to be open all week, too, in that regard?
CLINT BOWEN:  Yeah, I think that's just football.  That's just college football.  It's fair to your team, it's fair to every player on the team, that if one guy is playing better, he plays.  The bottom line is we're in this to win football games, and the player that gives us the best chance to win football games plays, and guys prove that and earn that during the course of the week, doing what they do when they do get opportunities in games, and to me competition is ever moving.  I mean, it never stops.

Q.  What's Damon Martin's status?  Is he still a ways away?
CLINT BOWEN:  I think he's still a ways away.

Q.  De'Andre Mann, too?  He came out of the last game.  Any update on him?
CLINT BOWEN:  Yeah, I think De'Andre will be fine.  He was injured in that game, but I think he'll be fine.

Q.  Your kickoff unit allowed a touchdown and have struggled at times.  Can you pinpoint anything on that that you guys can improve on for that area?
CLINT BOWEN:¬† Yeah, we do need to improve on that, and that's one of those special teams units that takes a lot of reps and time.¬† If you look early in the year, almost all teams struggle on kickoff, and then as the year goes, as the same players do it over and over and over, they improve, and kickoff return yardage gets harder as the year goes.¬† It's one of those deals that everyone thinks is a simple deal to run down and cover a kick, but it is the absolute epitome of a full‑speed decision on what you have to do, and it takes reps.
We've changed personnel around on that unit too much.  Those kids haven't had enough reps to do it, and so that's an area that we have to continue to emphasize and we have to improve on.
But it's one that we will, and it's on our plans to get that done.

Q.  Boateng, he's obviously good enough to be out there.  He played a ton already this season.  What do you make of his progression and development so far?
CLINT BOWEN:  You know, he has.  He's a true freshman corner, and that's like carrying a big red flag around with you when you go on the field.  These guys in this league pick on him pretty quick and go at it pretty quick.  The kid has done a nice job.  He's served a role for us and has made some really nice plays for us, as well.  He's growing and he's learning.  He learned a big lesson on Saturday about going in there and how to play right away when you're playing one of the best players in the conference, and obviously I wish it wouldn't have happened in those circumstances, but he's done a nice job.  He's a talented kid, he's conscientious, he works hard.  He'll have a bright future, just have to keep developing him.

Q.  We talked a little about your experience Saturday and what it meant to you and all that, but now that you've had time to move past it and digest it, is there anything that came out of nowhere that you didn't expect, being in that role for the first time, that shocked you or maybe was even easier or better than you thought?
CLINT BOWEN:  You know, not really.  We went about our business.  Once I got throughthe pregame meal and that part, it kind of just rolled along.  It's a lot of years of doing it and kind of just get in a routine, and game day obviously was a little bit more exciting with heart pumping a little bit.  But I don't think there was anything that really jumped out.

Q.  Putting Garman in, do they do anything different offensively than they did with Walsh?
CLINT BOWEN:  No, Coach Gundy and them have run that offensive system and tweak it from year to year, but they have a great idea of what they want to do and plug the next guy in and keep rolling.

Q.¬† How are your running backs?¬† It's a position with not a lot of depth with the injuries you've had and Corey kind of going through the physicality for the first time, how are they health‑wise overall, and do you feel good about that position getting through the year?
CLINT BOWEN:¬† We do.¬† Corey seems to be holding up well.¬† I imagine any issues with him, and obviously De'Andre went down this week with a minor injury and seemed to be checked out pretty good, so he seems to be fine, and we are thin there.¬† We are thin.¬† We've got Joe Dineen in that role, Ed Fink actually came in and played some in the game as really a third‑down guy for some pass protection, so there's other options we can use to get guys in the backfield and do things to take a little bit of the burden off those two starters.

Q.¬† Is that something where Tony could get more involved?¬† Is that a way to get him‑‑ you know you're going to get him the ball if he's at running back.
CLINT BOWEN:  It is.  You know, Tony has lined up in the backfield obviously the first play of the Central Michigan game, he started at tailback in that game.  It's part of the offensive package that they have that allows him to be in the backfield, so that's always an area we could go to.

Q.  Avery, that's got to be a sign of how special he is, to be able to do that so quickly.  Why can he handle that?  A lot of freshmen wouldn't be able to.
CLINT BOWEN:¬† He has some God‑given ability.¬† He's got a very well‑developed body.¬† He's a bigger kid, got some size to him and has some natural instincts to run the ball, and at that position a lot of it comes down to what your physical tools are, and he was blessed with some pretty good ones.

Q.  Talk about the three quarterbacks and all giving them a chance.  Do you know how that's going to shake out?
CLINT BOWEN:¬† We'll make a decision on one of them this week and let that guy take it and go out there and prove that he can move the offense down the field.¬† We have great lines of communication with all three of the young men and explain to them that‑‑ and they understand that they're all in this to win, too.¬† Everyone is pulling in the same direction here as a team to do whatever we can to go out and win football games.¬† To me that position is not any different than any other position.¬† We've got backup Mike linebackers, we have backup strong safeties that are dying to get on the field, as well, and we have guys at other positions that get taken out of the game all the time.¬† It's just you guys don't write about it.¬† In the course of a game we pull guys out several times, and every other position guys understand that you have an obligation to go out and get your job done, and just because you get taken out for a play doesn't mean that you're done, it just means we took you out for a play.¬† I think our guys understand that we're all working here together, and we'll make decisions during the course of the week on who deserves to play.

Q.¬† It's a little different with quarterback; usually one guy gets all the reps.¬† Is there some plan to play at least ‑‑
CLINT BOWEN:  Absolutely.  Those guys, the guys that we have behind are going to play.  They'll get the reps that they need to be prepared.

Q.  I guess T.J. has been at No.3 for a reason.  What kind of areas maybe was he behind the other guys in at least to this point?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, I think some of the things they wanted to do offensively they just felt that Montell and Mike fit that plan of attack that they had for those weeks.  Each week that could change.  Like I say, it'll be a big week in terms of the plan and implementing it with the QB situation, and Coach Reagan and those guys are on top of it.

Q.¬† Do you feel like your D‑line and your pressure up front did a better job in the second half of getting to Trickett a little bit?
CLINT BOWEN:¬† Honestly we had more success because I counted on the two guys that are pretty good players for us, JaCorey and Dexter, and they came through.¬† Early on, they have two good wide‑outs out there, and we were taking a couple‑‑ taking a guy out of the box here, trying to do some different things to stop the run and trying to help JaCorey and Dexter, and the bottom line is they didn't need help.¬† They proved that they're pretty good players out there on Saturday, and we went back into the second half doing what they do and letting those two handle their business out there, and it was a big part of what we did in the second half.

Q.  You have confidence in those guys obviously but is that living dangerous a little bit?
CLINT BOWEN:  The way these offenses are, it's living dangerous no matter what you do a lot of times.  That's college football now.  That's the world we're in in the Big 12.  Guys have great players spread out all over the world and do a nice job offensively.  We're very fortunate to have two very good corners.

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