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October 11, 2014

Clint Bowen


Q.  Obviously a tough one today, but mostly because of the way your kids fought so hard, had this game tied and all that.  What about the fight your team showed to be in this ballgame the way they were.
COACH BOWEN:  You know, we are proud of that effort.  It is something that, you know, from day one that I got this opportunity, we talked about we were going to play hard for four quarters.  I believe it's back‑to‑back weeks that our young men went out there and really did that.  They stayed together.  They played hard.  They started making plays in the fourth quarter.  We were able to get it to a tie game and obviously just got to get over that hump.
Proud of the effort that our kids came out and played with.  You know, 20‑7 at the half, they could have possibly let that thing get away, but they fought and we made it a game.

Q.  Obviously the kick return by Tyreek Hill was the difference; you spent most of the game keeping it away from him, how frustrating for him to make the difference there at the end like that?
COACH BOWEN:  It is, because obviously he's a very special player.  And we had for the most part attempted to sky kick and punts away and keep the ball away from him.  We felt Pardula could have gotten it out of the end zone and get a touch back.  He's capable of doing it.  He didn't hit that one obviously the best and, Tyreek did what he does.  He turned into to be a pretty special guy in the league.

Q.  To the offensive side, you made the switch at quarterback and Michael Cummings ends up throwing for 288 yards in this ballgame and puts together a couple drives late in the game that get it tied.  What about the job he did and your offense overall?
COACH BOWEN:  Well, overall, you brought up Michael, and from our perspective what I saw, he brought what we wanted out of that position:  Some leadership, some toughness, a guy that people could rally aroundwhen everything ‑‑ pretty?  No, not always pretty.  Kind of a junkyard‑dog type quarterback and he took some hits.  You saw him get up off the ground and keep meeting.  Mike's a tough kid.  We need to be a tough team.

Q.  The scene before the game, you had over 200‑plus former players here that came out and they said main reason they came was to support you.  What does that mean to you personally and to the team to have former players come back and show their support?
COACH BOWEN:  I did, I addressed that with our team before going out and I let them know that there's going to be a line of guys who have been in their shoes who have played at the University of Kansas and did exactly what they are doing at this point in time and we owe it to those people to represent this program well.
A lot of people made a lot of sacrifices and paved the way for us to have the things we have here at Kansas, and those guys were lined up in the tunnel, they put the blood, sweat and tears in the years before.  It was really special to have those guys out there.
I know our players took note of it, appreciated it and I'm thankful for those guys for showing up and I'm thankful for our players for giving it a good show.

Q.  Down 20‑7 at the half, what was your message to the team at half‑time?
COACH BOWEN:  You know, it was a fairly simple message.  From day one, we've preached that we're going to finish games.  We're going to play as hard as we can for four quarters and play one play at a time.  That was the message at half‑time.
You just keep playing one play at a time, over and over, winning your battle, and then at the end of this thing, we continue that, and we play more physical and more tougher and all those things, we'll have a chance at the end and to our players credit, we did do that and gave themselves a chance at the end.

Q.  The sky kick‑‑
COACH BOWEN:  Yes, we had wrestled with that.  We felt that Tyreek Hill is obviously a special player, and you know, for the most part for the whole day, we had chose the sky kick.
At that point in time, earlier, the one that was one of the worst plays in the game where we get the off‑side on a touch back safety situation, we felt that Pardula could get it in there.  He's a special kicker.  He's a really good kicker and probably didn't get his best shot on that one.  Tyreek, he got it, and that's what it was.

Q.  Was Tyreek's field positiona factor?
COACH BOWEN:  It did.  The kid changes games, as a punt returner and a kick returner, he forces to you make decisions that affect field position the whole game, when you choose the sky kick and not get it back there, obviously they are taking over with good field position.
The punting game, he's a factor in that to where hanging out there, Pardula did a nice job on some punts.  But it did, it was a huge‑‑ Tyreek Hill was a huge factor in this game the way he affected field position.

Q.  Kicking field goals, the one where you were fourth and four‑‑ can you talk about that?
COACH BOWEN:  Yeah, the fourth and four, it just didn't have a good feel.  We were on the third and four, the play kind of got blown up and it didn't feel like there was a real smooth rhythm to things.  We considered going for it there.  Just didn't feel like things were real smooth at that point in time.
We felt just taking the points and getting it to a ten‑point game was where we wanted to go.  The other one, you know, we just thought we had to tie the game.

Q.  Inaudible.
COACH BOWEN:  Very short.  May have been less than that.  You know, once again, made a decision that you're sitting there 20‑17, no guarantee you get it and what's going to happen after that, we felt an opportunity with some momentum on our side, tie that thing up, go get a defensive stop and try and win it.

Q.  Inaudible.
COACH BOWEN:  You know, he is.  Michael, I think he showed a lot of physical and mental toughness out there.  He played hard, made some plays.  Probably missed a few, but Mike is, Mike's a competitive guy.  He has that attitude that he can forget things.

Q.  Inaudible.
COACH BOWEN:  We don't ever give jobs away.  Every week, every position, they will learn them.

Q.  When did you decide that he starts today?
COACH BOWEN:  Probably earlier in the week.

Q.  Makes it easier to prepare, I'm sure.
COACH BOWEN:  Absolutely.

Q.  Your defense scoring points‑‑ just talk about the defense.
COACH BOWEN:  They did, they did hit us on some plays on the first half.  Credit Oklahoma State's offense.  They put together a pretty good plan and were able to move the ball and score some points.  Much like the West Virginia week, defense at half‑time came in.  We have some good leadership out of that bunch with guys like Heeney and Cassius and Keon and Ben Goodman and JaCorey, they are good leaders.  They are veteran players.  The game goes on and they kind of see the plan of the offense and get a couple looks at things.  There's some kids out there that can play.

Q.  Michael on the reception, did that ‑‑ inaudible.
COACH BOWEN:  I think it was big because it was one of the things that we talked about that we needed to hit some downfield throws.  We needed to put the ball up in the air and make some plays.  For that to happen early in the game, I think it gave the whole offense a little bit of a jolt and I'm sure it helped Mike out, as well.

Q.  How much confidence did that give you for the walk‑ons to take a shot down the field?
COACH BOWEN:  Well, you have to.  It's just what football is right now.  Teams load the box up and make it difficult to run the football when they put that many people in there and if you can't make them pay over the top, it makes for long days.
So you have to be able to take shots and you have to be able to hit them.  When you do hit them, it puts their defense in a situation where they have got to play the game a little bit, too, and just can't pack the box.  So throwing the ball downfield opens things up.

Q.  What is it that allows‑‑
COACH BOWEN:  You know, I think late there in the game, their quarters concept, they are a quarters team for the most part, playing four deep, three underneath the guys.  When you have that kind of system, the flat routes and things on the flat sometimes, you can stretch those three underneath defenders pretty good.  I think that's probably part of what got Jaccare (ph) the ball.

Q.  Inaudible.
COACH BOWEN:  No, I think there was some improvement.  We didn't have‑‑ at least not that I'm aware of.  I haven't seen the whole thing yet.
But it seemed like the snap issues got corrected a little bit with Joe Gibson in there.  I didn't notice that the ball was on the ground.  I think we did still have some pretty snap penalties out of the group, at least a couple that I'm aware of.
But they were able to move the ball, run in a little bit, protect it enough, but they also ‑‑ I think obviously there's been improvement.

Q.  This is the 16th‑ranked team in the nation.  Would you think that this group‑‑
COACH BOWEN:  Yeah, you know, our team, they are hurting right now.  They put in a good, hard week of practice.  I thought they prepared.  I think they put their heart and soul into this game to try and win it.  You know, Oklahoma State is a good team.  They have quality players at a lot of positions and they are well‑coached and Coach Gundy does a nice job.
I'm not so sure our team doesn't have to take a back seat to anybody, you know.  We show up any given day and compete.

Q.  How do you respond to that, next week‑‑
COACH BOWEN:  Well, I hope that our guys, that we eventually here just start to develop a mentality that that's what we are.  We show up, we work, we play hard and we play tough, and we start running a little bit smarter, we'll get on the upper edge of some of these games.
For our kids, we are trying to get them to understand that it's a mentality and it's a process.  You have to love the grind.  You have to love the grind every day of practice together with your friends and your teammates.  The game takes care of itself when you prepare that way.

Q.  The kickoff, you had some issues, what challenges are you going through right now?
COACH BOWEN:  It's a tough unit.  It's a tough unit to practice.  You know, you can't exactly during the week run down a bunch of full speed kickoffs.  So it makes it difficult to practice the unit.  We do the best we can with that to simulate it the best we can.
But we just haven't gotten enough reps at that unit, and so you know, we obviously have to find a solution.

Q.  Inaudible.
COACH BOWEN:  We had the same unit out the week before, so we are going into two weeks with that unit out there.  And it does, it takes a little bit of a process.
I don't think people appreciate, because when teams get good at it, it's really hard to move the ball against them.  But it does take time to get good at it, and we're going to have to put some time in.

Q.  That that's what you want to do‑‑ after the kickoff, after Tyreek's kickoff return, what did you see on the sideline?  Are you looking for that same kind of toughness?
COACH BOWEN:  You never want to lose that.  It's a seven‑point ballgame.  All we've got to do is go down and get a score and tie the thing right back up again.  It's part of just playing‑‑ what I addressed earlier, go back out, line up and play it one play at a time and go down and make the thing happen.  Unfortunately we weren't able to do it.  Oklahoma State's defense stepped up and got the stop and that was the game.

Q.  The mental toughness in their eyes and their heads‑‑
COACH BOWEN:  I don't feel like any kid thought the thing was over.  I thought till the very end, we thought we had a chance, all the way up until that last drive.  You know, the defense went out and got the stop but ‑‑ to get the ball back, as well.  At no point in time do you feel like the kids fold the tends.

Q.  Did Coach Gundy stay anything to you after the game?
COACH BOWEN:  I've known Coach Gundy for a little while, and you know, he did, he was just positive with things.  You know, thought we played hard, thought we played well and that was about it.

Q.  Inaudible.
COACH BOWEN:  He did.  He started the game.  Just wasn't going to be his day.  The young guys went in there, Boateng went in, played, Ronnie Davis got some reps in there and I thought they did a nice job.  This was a team that had been very, very proficient at throwing the ball downfield.  You know, they hit a couple shots on us.  But the main shots that they had been taking and connecting on, their quarterback had been really efficient that way, I felt our deep coverage held up.

Q.  Inaudible.
COACH BOWEN:  Yeah, I think he'll be day‑to‑day.  He was obviously close.  He started the game.

Q.  What does it mean for you having your former players come out and support you?
COACH BOWEN:  They came to support our team.  They came to support Kansas.  And I think our players really appreciated that.  I did tell them before the game that there was going to be a tunnel of former players, guys that have been there in their shoes and that those guys that came to support them; and let them know that there are people out there that care about what we do on the field and are willing to support us, and as long as they continue to work, those guys will show up.
So it means a lot.  It does mean a lot to me personally.  I'm thankful for those that did show up to support our team.  The kids noticed.  Our players noticed.
It was a pretty good turnout.  I saw a lot of former teammates I had not seen for a while.  One of them was my brother, so that was good to see him.  Keith Loneker was out there, I think he kind of spearheaded this and appreciate that from him.  But it was great to see those guys.

Q.  Being able to throw the ball, did that loosen them up a little bit‑‑
COACH BOWEN:  You know, I'm not really sure.  I don't know what they were doing defensively at that point in time but if you do kind of keep running the zone, keep doing it, eventually the zone run game, one guy gets out of a gap, you usually hit one.

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