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UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 11, 2014
COACH BOWEN:Â Obviously, good to start the week off after a win.Â You know, it was a good day for our program.Â The victory was the result of a lot of people's hard work.Â From players to coaches, support staff, it was good to see our fans and all those people be able to celebrate a victory.Â So it was a good day on Saturday.Â Obviously, we've put that one to rest and moved on.
As we begin our preparation for the TCU game, obviously, TCU is a very talented team playing at a high level, climbing as high as I think somewhere around number 5 in the poles.Â Gary Patterson has done a tremendous job at TCU for many years.Â A Kansas native, drive by his hometown many times recruiting the State, you see a sign out there, and a guy that I have a tremendous amount of respect for.Â In all honesty, the last ten years I've spent countless hours in the off‑season watching TCU's defense trying to steal ideas because he's been one of the best defensive coaches in college football for a long time.
On offense, they're obviously putting up a lot of points, lot of yards led by their quarterback (Trevone) Boykin who is a special athlete, and having a tremendous year, very talented group.Â I mentioned already it was a tough defensive squad.Â We look forward to the challenge of playing here at TCU this Saturday, which will be our Senior Day.Â Listen to a lot of very special seniors for the last game in Memorial Stadium, and hope to send them out on a positive note.
Before we take any questions, want to acknowledge Coach Francis and congratulate him on our women's soccer program qualifying for the NCAA Tournament, and being able to host a first round match‑up against in a team from the east a little bit.Â So with that, we'll open it up to some questions.
Q.Â When you're watching all those hours of film, what do you look for?Â I mean, obviously you don't have the same personnel, so do you look for those ideas and then go try to recruit that personnel or do you try to adjust it to what you have or all of the above?
COACH BOWEN:Â In the off‑season when you just sit down and you have a little bit of time to just go through what's really happening out there in college football, what are other people doing, how are they defending certain things from offensive teams?Â You just put their tape on.Â You watch everything from how does their three technique get in the stance to how does he take on a block, to what kind of coverages they play, to how they match up in the front and handle all the different things.
If you just watch enough film of those guys, sometimes it sparks an idea or gives you something, a little creative thought in there, and TCU for years they were on about a five‑year run where they were top 5 in the nation every year on defense.Â I figured they were doing that.Â They must be doing something right.Â It's kind of a copycat business, and not ashamed to admit that I've stolen a few things there.
Before we even continue here.Â Where are the writers from the UDK?Â Who do we have here from the UDK today?Â All right.Â Make sure we get our money's worth today.Â I've been here about four weeks now, haven't heard a lot of questions from you guys.Â So sometime during this thing, I want to hear some questions from the student body here from the UDK.Â We have to get your parents' money's worth on this journalism degree, all right?Â Let's keep going.
Q.Â When you take off your coaching visor and just watch Boykin as a football fan, what are your impressions?
COACH BOWEN:Â I've been fortunate.Â I actually went to Mesquite West High School and he was a senior in high school and got to see him practice as a high school player.Â To tell you how smart I was, I thought he'd be a great safety.Â You know, when you watch him, one, he's a special athlete.Â The guy truly is gifted with his athletic ability, speed, change of direction, all of that.Â He has a cannon for an arm.Â He drops that thing back and wings it.Â He's kind of got one of those baseball pitcher wind‑ups and lets it go.Â The kid plays with energy.Â He plays with a spark about him.Â He has the appearance of one of those guys that's having fun playing the game.
Q.Â What did you think of his front flip into the end zone last week?
COACH BOWEN:Â I've got to say, he's one of those guys that kind of has that bounce to his step and athletic ability just kind of comes out of him.Â I think he may be one of the best athletes in the conference at any position.
Q.Â When Gary Patterson introduced that 4‑2‑5 defense, how innovative was that at the time?
COACH BOWEN:Â It was.Â Everyone else had kind of been the standard quarter approach with it, and he threw the nickel on the field.Â In technical terms started throwing that nickel outside of the second receiver.Â Because at that point in time, everyone's battling and defending the zone‑read bubble game and throwing it out there.Â That simple little changeup of putting the nickel out there in manned coverage, outside leverage on No. 2, which everyone thought was crazy at the time.Â He made a living doing it and now it's almost a standard.
Q.Â You guys have been able to slow down the TCU offense the last two years.Â Why is Boykin so much more explosive this year?
COACH BOWEN:Â I know they brought in Coach Meacham and Sonny (Combie) from the different areas and tweaked some of that offense and some of the things they were doing offensively.Â I think the changes that they made fit Boykin's skill set a little bit better, and it's allowed him to utilize his ability to run the football, whether it be designed runs or some freedom to make a quick decision.Â Either going to throw it or I'm‑going‑to‑go type mentality and giving him that freedom.Â So I think a little bit the offensive schematic change there has freed him up.
Q.Â When you were able to hold that offense down, was that something you did that kept him from running or a combination of that plus what they were running?
COACH BOWEN:Â Yeah, you'd have to have a plan of attack on how to not let him beat you scrambling.Â He converts a lot of third downs by scrambling.Â It's an issue that he creates for you.Â In the past we played quarterbacks like this, we were always conscious of making sure we're not leaving people on islands to try to tackle by themselves.
Q.Â Talk about the seniors going out like Tony Pierson and can you comment on sort of a checkered career he has had with some injuries and position changes and what have you?Â You decided to bring him back to running back, just talk about that and just his whole career?
COACH BOWEN:Â Yeah, first, anybody associated with our program that knows Tony on a day‑to‑day basis is a Tony fan.Â I don't know how you couldn't be.Â The young man is as polite and good‑hearted a guy we've had in the program for a long time.Â He's a special individual, works extremely hard in the classroom, on the football field.Â I've never once heard a negative comment said about Tony in all the time I've been here.Â He truly is a special guy.
On the football field, obviously a very unique talent in his ability to run and change direction.Â It came down to we knew we had to get Tony the ball.Â At wideout at the time, whether it be break downs in pass protection or break downs with just not getting the ball delivered there, it was difficult to get him the amount of touches he needed playing wide receiver.Â A guy that is arguably the one guy that can break a play for us on our team, he had to get more opportunities, so that's what led him coming back to tailback.
But Tony has handled it all with the type of person he is.Â He's unselfish.Â He has an Â‘I'll do whatever I can to help the teamÂ’ mentality, and that's what he does.
Q. 100 yards rushing is kind of a milestone number, but how was it to see him do that?
COACH BOWEN:Â It was.Â Because he works for them and he gets them.Â Like you mentioned, he's missed a few games in his career which are unfortunate because he really is such a talented guy that he could have had an off the charts career.Â He obviously is having a good career, but I don't think his talents have always been shown as much as what's truly in that guy's body.
Q.Â How would you like the senior class to be remembered?
COACH BOWEN:Â A group of guys that through some tough situations, tough circumstances always stayed together, always stayed positive.Â Continued to lead this team, continued to show up each and every day and work hard and strive to get better all the way to the very end.
We have seniors right now who show up to practice and continually work hard on the small things and little things.Â So a group of guys that never quit.
Q.Â You like to talk about preparing for what's in front of you, but Senior Day is a big deal, obviously.Â Do you handle that any differently to prepare these guys for emotions that might be out there Saturday?
COACH BOWEN:Â We're going to handle it in different way in that we are going to make sure that we show the amount of respect and appreciation to these guys through the course of this week.Â We're going to start today with a few things that are senior oriented.Â I'll never forget my senior last game and those types of deals.Â It's emotional.
I think we have tremendous seniors on this team that deserve all the appreciation we're going to show them.Â We make it a point of doing that this week and let those guys know that their careers here were appreciated.
Q.Â What do you remember about Senior Day?Â Is it the game, the pregame, the emotion?
COACH BOWEN:Â The part I remember is I remember on the Friday night meeting before we got to address the team as seniors in the team meeting.Â Those always get a little bit emotional.Â I'll remember that part about mine, seeing some guys who always pretend to be pretty tough get up there and cry like little girls. Myself included.
Q.Â I heard you say Ben Heeney is one of the most unbelievable kids you've coached.Â What has made him that for you?
COACH BOWEN:Â He's a unique guy.Â Someone who truly can get himself emotionally involved in everything.Â You know what I mean?Â What do they say, wears his emotions on his sleeves, but he's all in.Â There is no doubt when you go to practice or you go into a game that you're going to get everything Ben Heeney has to help you at whatever the cause is.Â He doesn't question things.Â You tell him to do something different, he does it different.Â He does it to the best of his ability.Â He's a coachable young man that you know is 100% on your side and he's always been that way.
Q.Â After all he has gone through is it admirable for him to still do that?
COACH BOWEN:Â Yeah, it is.Â Because you change coaches and every coach has a different way of presenting and teaching things and convincing young men that this is the exact perfect way to do it.Â When you hear enough grown men come in and say you've got to do it like this or you've got to do it like that, you start thinking one of these guys is wrong because he tells me something different.Â He keeps buying in, and it's fortunate that he's had the success that he has operating in that manner.
Q.Â What is it about Michael Reynolds that allows him to be so disruptive to other offenses?
COACH BOWEN:Â Michael does a good job of a few things.Â One, he does go in there and he studies the person he's going to go against.Â He's very into that.Â He's into breaking down offensive tackles, obviously, most of the time that guy's past sets, that guy's tendencies, that guys approach to things he's big on finding snap counts to centers.Â But I would say he takes a big approach to the game and the study of his opponent.Â Obviously he has some given abilities to jump the ball and have some quickness.
Q.Â Is there any pressure taken off the seniors to win this game since they won the week before?
COACH BOWEN:Â You know, I don't know.Â I don't think so.Â I think as we started this deal day one with Dr.Zenger, we first had that first talk, one of our major goals in that deal was to develop a process and way of operating as a football program, developing these guys fundamentally and teaching them how to play the game correctly.
I believe that we've had some success in doing that in the last four weeks, which I know seems minor, but from the way we talk to our players, the way we meet, the way we structure our practice I think has created a process to where these guys have been allowed to develop better fundamentally.
We wouldn't have won that game on Saturday because Iowa State is a tremendous fundamental team.Â I always equate it to boxing.Â Everyone knows how to get in the ring, put on gloves and hit the other guy in the head.Â But the guy who has the great fundamentals and trains it's night and day between the difference, and football's not a whole lot different.Â If you're not prepared fundamentally that can negate a lot of your athletic ability or advantages.
So what we've done practice‑wise to develop our fundamentals in that has allowed us to make some improvement throughout.Â So when we talk about pressure and those things, don't ever really see it that way.Â I just see it as the day‑to‑day grind of the process and our kids buying into that and getting ready for another one.
Q.Â The personnel move, so to speak, with Michael (Cummings) there at quarterback, is it fair to say in his time here he's been overlooked or undervalued during his time here?
COACH BOWEN:Â You know, when he did have opportunities in the past, he made the most of them.Â He had some good games in there.Â I think through evaluations and different circumstances being practice or whatever the case was, I think that the coaches at that time felt that other guys gave us a better chance, obviously.
You know, Mike is one of those guys that when he gets on the game field he has a competitive nature about himself that really shows up in games maybe more than all the other times in practice and that.Â Because when he steps out there, he finds a way to get things done.
Q.Â Victor Simmons has also changed positions a few times and has been through a little bit.Â What have you seen from him this year as far as progression?
COACH BOWEN:Â Well, he did.Â You talk about going from a safety to a linebacker to now we have him rushing the QB.Â He's really my third down hybrid guy.Â Every game I ask him‑‑ I don't even know what his position is half the time.Â Fortunately he's an intelligent young man that I can pretty much on third down do whatever I want with him and he figures it out.Â We've had him play everything from deep middle this year to covering tight ends to rushing the QB.Â He's a good body type athletically and size‑wise for that.Â He's 220 pounds, 225 pound kid that can run and change direction, intelligent.Â And he's been valuable in that we've been able to use him in so many different roles and he kind of fits that package, and on first and second down he's playing our buck position and doing a nice job there.
Q.Â Early on, one of the things you said was becoming the head coach was cool for you because it allowed you to have relationships with guys on the other side of the ball that maybe you didn't have the time to devote to.Â Does that make this senior thing a little more special because now over these past five, six weeks whatever, you've had time to spend a little more time with Tony and Jimmay (Mundine) and (Nick) Harwell and guys like that?Â Does that add to this Senior Day week?
COACH BOWEN:Â It does.Â It kind of takes me back to my first few years as coach as a special teams coordinator where you got to work with the entire team.Â It is back to that.Â I have reason and purpose to go talk to (Mike) Smithburg, and Ngalu (Fusimalohi), and you said Jimmay and those guys to where in the past you had talked to them, but it was more just as you're passing.Â Now I get to hunt them down and have messages for them.
We've done a lot of things in the past four weeks that I feel has brought this team a lot closer together.Â Forced situations to make them take their head phones off and put their phones away and pay attention to one another.Â I feel the team has a different feel to it in the locker room.Â We have players over here a lot more often when they're not required to be, which is always a very positive sign that there are a lot more fun things going on down in that locker room and in the player lounge.Â It's allowed me to get closer to them, and we've allowed them to get closer to each other.
Q.Â Who was your Senior Day against?
COACH BOWEN:Â It was against Missouri, and we shut them out 28‑0.Â It wasn't even close.Â Non‑competitive.
Q.Â Did Coach Fam (Fambrough) talk to you?
COACH BOWEN:Â Coach Fam did talk.Â Greatest speeches ever.Â Every Thursday.Â Anyone who ever got to see a Coach Fam Missouri Prep pep talk, you talk about classic.Â Quantrill's name over and over.Â Bad things.Â Quantrill did evidently graduate from Missouri.Â That's what Coach Fambrough taught us all.
Q.Â Any update on any of your injury situations?Â Keon (Stowers) or DeAndre (Mann)?
COACH BOWEN:Â Yeah, we're getting better on that front.Â Very, very hopeful that‑‑ I'll be surprised.Â This week Keon will be in there, (Andrew) Bolton will be back in there, Joe Gibson gets battled through and continues to play.Â De'Andre Mann has a chance to get back in this week.Â Our biggest concern is Ngalu.Â Ngalu is probably pretty questionable.
Q.Â Did you put Keyon in there when Ngalu went out?
COACH BOWEN:Â No, I put big Junior (Visinia) in there.Â The young fella got in there and did a heck of a job.Â Ngalu goes down and we're all standing there and Junior gets in the huddle.Â It's the true freshman kid going in.Â So I think it was Ben Heeney or Michael Reynolds went over to kind of give him a little pep talk, and Ngalu had a confident grin on his face like don't worry about it.Â It's all good, and the young man went in there and produced.
Q.Â That would be the way you go again then, right?
COACH BOWEN:Â Yeah, if Ngalu can't go, then Junior is up and ready.
Q.Â That's got to be great to see at this point in the season, some of those guys.Â He was playing early, but just on field goal block or whatever and not really getting to see what you have in him?
COACH BOWEN:Â Yeah, we snuck him in there late in the fourth quarter a cup times.Â But this was his first significant action from an early time in the game all the way through and went in there and handled it like a veteran.
Q.Â You've been asked a lot about TCU and Baylor and their athleticism and speed.Â Talk about the physical style that they also play with?
COACH BOWEN:Â Well, I tell anyone that will listen, that is the most underrated thing about both of these teams.Â Both of them up front physically beat you up.Â People get confused with open style of offense, and the tempo and automatically think that this is a gimmick‑type offense or it's a pass‑first offense.Â When in reality, they're a run‑first offense, and a very physical run team.Â Both Baylor and TCU kind of operate that way.Â TCU's line plays very well.Â Two tackles, I think, are very good on the outside, center plays really well. But they're a knock‑you‑off‑the‑ball‑type mentality.Â If they can do that the whole game, that's actually their preference.
Q.Â How do you stop a mobile quarterback when you can't get to him behind their good offensive line?
COACH BOWEN:Â It's been interesting to watch their games and see how other people approach it.Â You can see some teams who are consciously making an effort to rush four guys and not really get up field with them, try and build the four‑man fence around it.Â Other guys have used three‑man rushes and spied him.Â Just hang a guy in there that can run him down when he goes.Â Other teams have tried to pressure him with control.
Bottom line in pass‑rush is that you always take the base rush and you're rushing four.Â There are six openings up there with the O‑line.Â You've got four guys defending six gaps with a QB like that, that gets scary at times. Â So there are a few different approaches that you have to take, and you have to decide, really, what your approach up front, how it matches what coverage you're playing on each down.Â I think a combination of all of them is usually the best way to go.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports