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October 28, 2014

Clint Bowen

CLINT BOWEN:  Obviously we're glad to be back in the flow of an actual game week.  Last week having the bye week, it was an important week for us.  We were able to put a big emphasis on an improvement in a lot of areas, our fundamentals, special teams, just across the board, and at the same time allowing a few of our players to get healthy and kind of get their feet back underneath them.
Obviously from here on out, it's a Baylor week.  All getting prepared for what is a great challenge for our program, an opportunity to play a 6‑1 team coming off their first loss of the year, and a team that they've built a nice program.  Coach Briles has obviously done a very good job down there.  If you look at where they're at this year, climbed as high as No.4 before that loss, but on offense they are leading the Big 12 in scoring offense, total offense, rushing offense, pass efficiency, 1st downs; name it, they lead the Big 12 in a lot of offensive categories.  Obviously a combination of really good players, a really good scheme, and Art Briles has always been an innovative and creative guy when it comes to offense, and that continues.
And then on the other side of that, on defense, to combine with that, they lead the Big 12 in total defense, as well, coming in second with their rush and second with pass defense, so Phil Bennett, another well‑respected defensive coach, has done a nice job with their defense, and they're a very disruptive group.
In all, you've got a well‑coached team with a good plan and good players, and give a lot of respect to Baylor.  Obviously it's the kind of game that our players, we tell them all the time, you're Big 12 football players, this is the kind of game you came to Kansas to play in.  We're excited and looking forward to a good week getting ready for them.

Q.  When you're facing a team like Baylor, they're obviously the offensive machine that they are, but do you focus on trying to slow that down, or do you focus on your offense trying to keep up, or a mixture of the two?  What's the emphasis there?
CLINT BOWEN:  You know, our emphasis every time we talk about it, as a defense you go out and you get a three‑and‑out.  You get stops.  That's what you do on defense.  On offense you go out and you try and score.  You get 1st downs, you move the chain and go.  Obviously with a team like this, you look at the TCU game where both teams were going tempo, and TCU played 114 snaps of defense in that game.  So you always have to be conscious of the clock and managing the game accordingly, and that's one thing that you think of Baylor and you think of an up‑tempo offense, but in reality, they're kind of a grind‑it‑out, run‑it team.  They're leading the conference in run percentage attempts and rush yards.
Within there, I think you can be a tempo team and control the clock.

Q.  How do you‑‑ it's easy to see all the stats and for your guys to maybe get outside of their heads a little bit and think, gosh, like you said, they're this juggernaut offensively.  How do you teach your guys to focus in on not worrying about the numbers and not worrying about those stats and just playing your game and trying to figure it out from there?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, that's what we always emphasize, and that's what we talk about.  Every game it comes down to individual battles.  This obviously is the greatest team game in the world, but every play comes down to winning a personal battle.  If you're a corner, you've got to win your battle against the wide‑out; if you're a D‑tackle, you're the nose, you've got to win your battle against the center.  It's what we talk about in our program all the time; it's about what is six inches in front of your face each and every day, and it's just a constant approach.
You can't worry about everything.  If I'm Tedarian Johnson, I worry about my gap and beating my center.  The rest of the guys take care of it.  In football you simplify it and put it down into things that the kids know that they can control.

Q.  The more you see what Baylor has done the last few years, is it easier to game plan against it, or do they change things up enough year after year to where it's not as easy?
CLINT BOWEN:  No, it's not as easy.  No, they keep adding things to it, and they're always kind of looking for new ways to push the envelope offensively.  What they've been able to do there is recruit some really good players.  They've been fortunate to get some guys to head that way to give them a chance to run their scheme effectively.  A lot of people have great ideas and don't want the players to go out there like they have.
I don't think it ever‑‑ it doesn't really ever get any easier against them, and they're‑‑ they know what they're doing.

Q.  With Cummings throwing the ball a little bit better than Montell, does that give defenses something to think about?
CLINT BOWEN:  I would think so.  In this conference as much as people talk about the scoring and all that, it still comes down to stopping the run, and so until you prove that you can consistently throw the ball downfield and complete passes downfield, that's what teams will do, and until you force them out of it, that's what you're going to get each and every week.
I think with his ability to complete some of the deeper shots and hit a few of those the last few weeks, it has helped.

Q.  Texas held Baylor to 28 and West Virginia obviously held them to 27.  You've played both of those teams.  Does that help at all in terms of just, okay, this team that we've already seen or that team that we've already seen had some success?
CLINT BOWEN:  Yeah, you know, both of those teams did, and they both kind of had a similar game plan against them.  It was a plan that fit both of their personnel groups well, and their kids went out and executed it well and played Baylor tight.  At the same time Baylor has‑‑ if you're on their end of things and you're talking about those two games, there were quite a few plays that were inches away from being different plays.

Q.  What's the biggest challenge maybe from the defense, maybe not so much during plays but in between plays, and Baylor is such a hurry‑up, basically run back to the line of scrimmage and get another play off?
CLINT BOWEN:  Yeah, the tempo is something that has taken over this league and been a big part of it.  The challenge is always what we talk about, you have to play with urgency, and you have to match their urgency.  The bottom line is their players have to get back to the line of scrimmage, as well, to run the next play, and if their players are doing it quickly enough, you have to match their urgency and their tempo.  I think we've developed a system that we get our ‑‑ the tempo stuff hasn't really been an issue for us.

Q.  Was there ever a situation where the other team's offense can maybe speed your offense up?  Do you have to guard against them so things don't start snowballing and you get ahead where you really want your team to be?
CLINT BOWEN:  Oh, there's no doubt.  Each side of the ball I think you have to go in with your plan and execute your plan and be smart with what you do on your side of the ball.

Q.  Rodriguez Coleman had a good spring.  Is it still possible he can help you this year?
CLINT BOWEN:  Yeah.  Rod has been through some things up and down, here and there, but he's back in the mix, and we'll see him on the field.

Q.  You talked about getting healthy a little bit and getting some rest during the bye week.  Does that include mental rest?  Was it good for those guys to have a week off mentally and not worry too much about game plan or anything like that?
CLINT BOWEN:  I think so.  You hit the midpoint of the season, and everyone gets a little bit tired of each other at times, so I think it's good for them to get away from us as coaches and for‑‑ to be honest, kind of good for us to get away from them a little bit.
You end up spending a lot of time together in this business, and like anything, it's a competitive, intense thing, and sometimes to just take a deep breath and come back I think is really a positive.

Q.  Everyone is pretty healthy for this week then?
CLINT BOWEN:  Yeah, we've maintained pretty good health all year.

Q.  When you run a system like Baylor does and you lose key guys like they have over the years and just keep plugging guys in, is it easier when that system stays the same to keep doing that?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, I think it is, and they know exactly what they want each position to do and what that criteria for each position is, and they recruit well to it.  They've done a nice job of identifying what they want from each position.  Their wide‑outs are for the most part guys who can really run, and that's what they do, and that's what they keep going and getting.
So I think they've identified their target for each spot.  They've been a four three‑quarters team on defense since Bill has gotten there, so they know they're going to get some defensive ends that can rush the QB, get home before, and challenge on the back end with some athletic DBs.  When you play in a system, you stay in a system for a while and you recruit to that system and you know exactly what you want, it helps across the board, and those kids get familiar with it.  You talk about guys who have heard the same exact defensive call or offensive call for four or five years, it becomes second nature to them.

Q.  You said they keep adding to this thing which makes it difficult to continue to game plan, but how about Petty?  Has he changed a lot throughout his development, specifically this year to last year?
CLINT BOWEN:  I think he has.  I have‑‑ understand, just watching Petty play, if you just step back and look at it, there's some things that the kid does that you really have to admire that are impressive.  There's some reads that he makes‑‑ there's other defenses in this conference who are trying to make things difficult for him, and they're disguising things, they're throwing the box off, they're rotating safeties, and his ability to pick it up and throw it to the right spot all the time, and it's happening on the fly.
He has a great understanding of their system.  He's an accurate thrower.  Obviously he's a smart kid that can make quick decisions.  He's one of the more impressive guys we've had in the league for a while.

Q.  Without getting inside his head, you don't know what he's seeing that's making him deliver those in the right spot, but is that just his comfort back there?
CLINT BOWEN:  It is.  Obviously a ton of reps at it and they continue to do it, and he understands his reads.  He understands what they're trying to get done.  It's really pretty impressive what they do.

Q.  You guys have had lot of 3rd and 1 and 2s, 4th and 1 and 2s and have not been able to convert.  Have you been able to pinpoint what's not going right from that situation?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, early we talked about up front being able to be physical and finish off blocks.  A lot of those times you're talking about can you knock a guy back enough just to get a crease, and we unfortunately haven't been able to do that, and that's been an emphasis and something we've talked about for a couple weeks now, that up front being able to get some push.

Q.  You've talked so much about being physical.  Is that because that's the kind of football team you want to become?
CLINT BOWEN:  I think we did answer that question why being tough and about physical is important, and that's one of them situations, that one yard, you'd like to think that your team is going to be physical enough to knock someone back enough to get that.

Q.  Michael seems like he has a pretty good connection with the tight end Jimmay.  Is it something that just he's comfortable with the throws?  What do you see there?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, I think it is, sometimes guys get a little confidence factor and understand how guys are going to play.  But part of it has been schematically, what they've targeted to do with Jimmay.  Jimmay is a talented young man and a guy that can make some plays for us in a lot of different ways.  He's lined up, played in‑line, tight end and blocks, he's lined up in the backfield, plays basically a fullback, and we flex him out as a wide‑out.  When you have a guy with that versatility you can move him around and use him quite a bit, it really helps.

Q.  I wondered what were a couple things that you've seen from your defense thus far and what's something you'll ask them to do better?
CLINT BOWEN:  Yeah, there's no doubt, you run all those reports during this week and do it.  Obviously we need to get‑‑ we've been good on 1st down.  We've been able tohold teams to less than three yards on 1st down.  That's been good.  Haven't been as good in the coverage in the red zone.  We've given up some red zone passes down there.  There were a few things that came up through there that we've hopefully addressed.

Q.  How big was the bye week for Michael?  Your offense is still obviously a little bit of a work in progress.  Was that good for him to have some time to kind of breathe?
CLINT BOWEN:  I think so.  I think he's gotten in there a couple weeks now, and he's truly settled in as the QB that's running the offense right now.  You see him kind of every day, leadership steps up a little bit more, he seems to have a little better command of everything he's doing, the decision to get quicker, everything gets fast.  Kind of like everything; the more you rep it, the more you do it, the better you get, and hopefully Mike, he's a competitive kid.  He's proven that he's a competitive guy.  He's been through some ups and downs in the program and just kept going and going and going, and so he's a tough, mentally tough guy.  He's into it.

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