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November 15, 2014

Clint Bowen

TCU ¬Ė 34

Q.  Coach, on Senior Day going up against the national Championship contending team like TCU, what a game.  How do you feel about the way your kids played, the way they fought, the way they performed in this one?
COACH BOWEN:  Well, first obviously TCU, No. 4 in the nation, Gary Patterson with the program he runs.  They're a well-coached team, great schemes, great players.  They do it all well.
It's been a message to our kids for weeks now that they're Big 12 football players, too.  They belong in this conference.  They chose to come to Kansas to play in Big 12 games, to play against teams like TCU.  We never put any limitations on ourselves.  That's the way we expect our players to start, to anticipate playing every game.  That's the expectations.  They're here to play Big 12 football, that's what you do.  You go out and you play well and compete every game.  That's what our players did.
Unfortunately we couldn't get the win for the seniors.  Because we appreciate what they've done so much.  We're continuing to do those things that I believe are going to be our foundation, is going to create our identity.

Q.  There were so many big momentum changing plays in this game today and every time one of those would happen I'd look over at your bench and the whole team seemed to be going nuts.  How much did they fight in this game?
COACH BOWEN:¬† They did.¬† Love our players.¬† I love their attitude.¬† It's been that way for weeks now.¬† They¬íve created a culture amongst themselves where the teams come together a lot tighter, a lot ‑‑ bonding together, things we've been doing.¬† And they've invested during the week.¬† We went out Sunday through Thursday, in the bitter cold every day. ¬†Over two hours a day every day.¬† They invested time, they prepared.¬† And it hurts when they put that much into it.¬† At the same time they're starting to realize that when you're that truly invested and good things happen, the excitement comes with it.

Q.  For the second-straight game this passing attack looks like something we haven't seen most of the season.  Michael (Cummings) throws for 332 yards and a couple touchdowns in this game.  How much has that aspect come along in the last few weeks?
COACH BOWEN:  It's happening a lot.  The offensive line is starting to protect better.  Michael has really good pocket awareness back there.  And those wide receivers, including Jimmay (Mundine),  has the most receiving yards for a tight end since 1974, most yards for a quarterback throwing since Todd Reesing in 2009.  I think they all have a lot of confidence right now.  Mike throws it out there, Nigel (King) goes gets it, Jimmay is making plays, (Justin) McCay is making plays.  They're starting to develop some chemistry.  And I believe it's a result of the way we practice, the way we prepared, and it's starting to show up.

Q.  Coach, this was the final home game.  But still two more big road games coming up the rest of the season.  How do you get the kids after such an emotional game like this, back and ready to go for next weekend?
COACH BOWEN:  I keep talking about it and I don't want to overstate it.  We've educated our guys that every week starts with a process.  We hit the reset button Sunday night and go to work on the next opponent.  And preach to the kids that the things that are going to give us a chance to win.  Our guys, if you ever needed a resilient bunch they've proven it over and over.  There's so many different circumstances.  I have no worries at all that we understand the process of Sunday night, move on to Oklahoma, we'll be in good preparation all week.  And continue to play.

Q.  How much did you think the weather impacted the game?
COACH BOWEN:  I felt from Tuesday night when we went out there on a day that they said the temperature felt like it was 18.  Our kids went out there dressed appropriately.  And not with a ton of clothes on, put in the hard work in Tuesday in the cold, put in hard work Wednesday and Thursday, followed the plan that we talk about all the time of preparing for Sunday.  Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, the days we win the game and our guys worked extremely hard during the week, invested the time and energy into it.  And they've established and learned a way to prepare for games.  And I truly felt going into that game that we were both physically and mentally ready to go.

Q.  Were you surprised how tough the team played today?
COACH BOWEN:  Well, it started from Day 1 when Dr.  Zenger and I talked about this thing, about we needed to create an identity of what Kansas football is going to be.  That's the second thing we say over and over, we're going to play hard and physical and tough.  We preach about it, we talk about it, we emphasize it in practice.  We need to be a physical team.  And our kids are understanding that.  They're starting to play with that mentality.  And this needs to keep going and improving week after week.

Q.  So much of what you do out there is a process that you're talking about, focusing on first down.  But when things happen the way they happened, especially the first half, do you start to think maybe this is our day?
COACH BOWEN:  Well, you know, no, you just know that TCU is the No. 4 team in the nation for a reason, because they're really good.  We told our guys at halftime that really the real part of the game starts in the second half, and beyond that the real fight begins in the 4th quarter.
And so we knew we were bracing to have to go the whole game no matter what happened.  TCU, Coach Patterson knows what's going on, he knows how to get his teams ready.  We knew it was going to be four quarter fight.  I believe and our kids went out and battled and some of the plays just didn't come our way at the end.

Q.  What was the message to the players after the game?
COACH BOWEN:¬† Just want our players to understand that never put any limitations on themselves.¬† They're all here to play Big 12 football players, that's what they were recruited to do.¬† No matter who you step on the field with, we're Big‑12 football players just like TCU guys are Big‑12 football players.¬† And that's what you're expected.¬† You're expected to go out and compete and play.

Q.  Do you think it will be tough for them to move forward after not pulling it out?
COACH BOWEN:  No, I want our guys to keep understanding that as long as we keep working hard, stay together, focus on the things we can control and get better at them every single day, that eventually the fourth quarter change will be in our favor.

Q.  What was the issue with the substitution infraction that took away JaCorey Shepherd’s interception for a touchdown?  What exactly happened?
COACH BOWEN:¬† I believe ‑‑ yeah, it was a hurry up snap.¬† They got on the ball and hurry up.¬† And, yeah.¬† I'm not going into the officiating thing.¬† They hurried up and caught us for 12 (players).¬† We thought we had a chance to substitute.¬† We made the third down substitution package and they snapped the ball.

Q.  Did you see a flag thrown on the play?
COACH BOWEN:  I don't know that I did.

Q.  Nigel King has had a lot of memorable individual plays.
COACH BOWEN:¬† Yeah, you know, he continues to do that, that's I think ‑‑ I think that's going on about four weeks in a row it seems like Nigel and Michael have hooked up on a big play.¬† Obviously the one that he tipped.¬† But he also had the one earlier in the game, he strong‑handed the thing and pulled it down on the corner No. 25.¬† Nigel continues to compete and make plays for us.¬† He's been a big positive for us for about four weeks in a row.

Q.  On the radio you mentioned Jimmay as a receiver, what makes him so tough to defend?
COACH BOWEN:  Well, you know, we talked about Jimmay is a tough match up.  He's a big guy that can go out on the perimeter, runs good routes, has good hands.  The guys has some athleticism, that one run was short of amazing.  To have the most receiving yard from a tight end since 1974 on Senior Day, for Jimmay, couldn't be more proud of the effort and what he's brought to our team.

Q.  It seemed like Tedarian Johnson was all over the field today.
COACH BOWEN:  Well, that is what he is.  He is the consummate show up and work every single day.  You get maximum effort, maximum toughness out of Tedarian.  He's holding that nose down for us, and they're playing physical, and they had a chance to scoop and score on that one.  He does a nice job playing up the middle for us.

       Q.  What happened on the field goal? Was it intended to be a fake?  What did you see from your vantage point?
COACH BOWEN:  You know, our snapper, Reilly Jeffers does a nice job for us.  And with the cold, kind of a little duck coming back, he fixed it and I'll kind of talk to him later, kind of talk to him, and say you can snap this ball, get it done, and he started firing the rest of them back.  T.J. (Millweard) bobbled it or whatever, and they had it.  It's something we work every Thursday, bad snap, bad hold situation, make the call to turn it into a pass.  And obviously it's good to have a quarterback as your holder throw that ball, and T.J. hit (Trent) Smiley on it, and it's a good execution of a busted play that you do work on for that reason.

Q.  It looked like Michael got a little banged up—I saw Montell (Cozart) warming up on the sidelines, is everything ok with Michael?
COACH BOWEN:  Yeah, we were.  I don't think it was injured any worse.  But Mike's plan, through some soreness, some things that hurt.  Obviously a tough young man that battles and goes out there.  And he's able to do that.  It's going to take a lot to get Mike out of the game.

Q.  Do you think not scoring after the fumble on the kickoff return was harmful?
COACH BOWEN:¬† You know, like I go say, those are games that everyone has to step up.¬† We make a play ‑‑ when you're playing a good team like that, the ball is at the 50 yard line, that's not a guarantee against TCU's defense to take it down there.¬† Those guys are the best defense in the nation for a long time for a reason.¬† Their kids went out and executed on that.¬† And going back and forth, that's what both teams had to do.¬† Both teams made plays, both defenses got stops, both defenses gave up points, the offenses moved, so it was, I think, a good flow of the game.¬† And really on all ‑‑ both sides players made plays and there's a lot of stuff happening.

Q.  How helpful was it to have De’Andre Mann back after missing time with injuries?
COACH BOWEN:  It's good, De'Andre's obviously a starter in the year for a reason.  We feel he's one of our better running backs.  Every time you can bring a talented individual in the game.  And De'Andre has the ability to run it downhill and make people miss, a little bit of power to him.  Obviously one more body in them, with the core running backs, that can change things up.

Q.  Defensively, how close were you to executing the game exactly the way you wanted it to go?
COACH BOWEN:  The one key that you had to focus on with those guys was Trevone Boykin completing deep balls.  He's been efficient throwing it at the No. 1 and No. 9, throwing it over the top of people.  And Dexter (McDonald) did a great job on the backside, some deep balls thrown Dexter's way, JaCorey (Shepherd) getting an interception on a deep ball.  I don't remember any balls, just going over the top of us, which has been a trademark of what they've done.  The quarterback, although he had time in the pocket, kind of kept him from scrambling around, getting a lot of yards.  I think we controlled the QB running game and running game in general.

Q.  Would you offer a general comment from somebody who has so much invested in this program for a lifetime, seeing your guys play with so much passion and energy?
COACH BOWEN:¬† Our players, I can't give them enough credit, they do this whole entire time remained extremely positive, upbeat.¬† They show up at work every day.¬† The culture down there and what those guys are doing together and what they bring on a daily basis, it really is ‑‑ give a lot of credit to those guys, because they've been through so much and continue to work.¬† And that's why I keep talking to them about, is those are our expectations.¬† We're here to play at that level.¬† And we're going to take a lot of work and a lot of effort but they're putting it in and doing it, and we're starting to see those guys have some results.

Q.  Do you think they were more fired up to play due to the emotions of Senior Day?
COACH BOWEN:  Well, I told those guys from the beginning that it's a day they'll always remember.  I remember whenever everybody plays sports remembers their last game.  We do a few things during the week to emphasize Senior Day.  We wanted to let those guys know how much they're appreciated.
Yeah, it gets emotional for them, especially we have senior video in here, it was the different than the one you guys were able to see.  That, yeah, it was a little bit of a tearjerker.  And we have some remarkable seniors in that class.  And obviously they stepped up and provided leadership for us today and leadership during the course of the week, and they'll continue to provide leadership during the next two weeks of our season.

Q.  If you knew you were going to win the turnover battle by two, would you have expected this outcome?
COACH BOWEN:  You know, plus two, you've got a chance, and we had a chance.  It was always a big indicator of the turn over battle.  And they're an explosive team.  Even a plus two wouldn't be any guarantees.  But plus two gives you a chance.  And four minutes to go in the game we had a chance.

Q.  What happened on the punt return for a touchdown?
COACH BOWEN:  You know, obviously 15 is dangerous back there.  We knew he was dangerous back there.  He gets ahold of one probably too much, too much field to cover with his speed up, with an athlete in space.  That's what happens.

Q.  How do you assess the defense?
COACH BOWEN:  You know, they're a tough team to defense.  We had to be smart and choose our battles and on what to try to take away at different times.  I thought our players understood the plan well.  I thought they executed the plan well.  There were a few plays that we left out that could have got us off the field on a couple of drives, on the third and 20, I think was a huge play in the game.
But they played hard.  They did execute what we were trying to get done against that offensive.  And we were a play or two away from maybe having a better day.

Q.  What happened on the third and 20? Did they just find the right spot in your zone?
COACH BOWEN:¬† They put on ‑‑ it was an empty formation, so they got five guys out on the play. ¬†And they hit that deep over route by the inside guy on the three.¬† And 52 yards is a big area to cover and we were in the zone.¬† And there was a gap there that we didn't get closed off.¬† It was one that they got in there on us.

       Q.  You guys were the underdog and you had that fourth and six, and you were down seven, was there any thought to going for that?
COACH BOWEN:  No, because I was confident we could get another stop and get the ball back.  I thought we could finish the game with a stop and a touchdown.

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