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November 18, 2014

Clint Bowen

CLINT BOWEN:  You know, after I got back to work on this Sunday in preparation for Oklahoma, you know, just a quick recap of the TCU game, the game we played on Saturday.  I really want to commend our players because last week was a tough preparation week in that the weather wasn't the best, getting ready for a tough opponent, went outside, our players handled it very well mentally, went out and put in good days of work on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and I thought the team was really focused and had a good week of practice.
I believe that showed on game day in terms of being able to come out of the locker room ready to play against a very tough TCU team, a team ranked very high that deserves to be ranked that high because Coach Patterson and them have a really good team and is playing at a high level, but our team was able to come out, ended up with the halftime lead.  Unfortunately in the second half we weren't able to finish the game, but we did have several players that had very good performances and played at an exceptional level for us.  Our offensive players of the game were Nigel King at wide receiver and Jimmay Mundine.  On defense, Tedarian Johnson was our player of the game; on special teams, Darious Crawley.
Obviously in the Big 12 it doesn't get any easier.  Another challenging week with a trip down to Norman, Oklahoma, to play the Sooners, a very talented team on both sides of the ball, special teams, a talented roster across the board, a team that's very well coached.  Been fortunate to know Coach Stoops on a limited basis, know him a little bit, but several run‑ins with him, tremendous amount of respect for his body of work for a long time, going back to when he was a defensive coordinator and had the best defenses in the nation year after year after year, and then to have the success that he's had at a Big 12 school for as long as he's had and to continue to keep Oklahoma where their program is is amazing in the landscape of college football today.  What he's accomplished, due to a few other guys on his staff, his hard work and his body of work is very impressive.
On defense, Mike Stoops, another great defensive coach, has his players playing hard and playing physical, and this is a defense that will get after you and make you have a bad day.  Offensively Oklahoma has been kind of tops on offense for a while.  They're an innovative group.  If you go back as far back as 2008, they were one of the first true tempo teams in terms of that team rattling off 50 points a game.
Each year they adapt to their personnel and they're able to put an offensive plan together that fits their players and is always very effective.
Tremendous challenge for us, a game we look forward to, a chance for our team to go down and play in a great college football environment, and we're looking forward to the opportunity.  Any questions?

Q.  Talk about commending the players after TCU.  Is it hard to find a balance of giving them the credit and letting them know how proud you are of them and showing them that this is the expectation for a Big 12 team?
CLINT BOWEN:  Yeah, the bottom line is that we lost the game, and that has to be the story is that we lost.  A loss is never acceptable, and that's not what you go to do.  We have talked about that our expectations are that we're Big 12 football players playing in the Big 12 Conference, and when you step on the field, you expect to win.  You do everything possible in your power to win.  Unfortunately on Saturday we just didn't have enough to pull that off.
But the preparation continues, and our players continue to improve each week, and I think our development is starting to show up, and I think our players are seeing positive results from their hard work and the improvement on the field.
So it keeps them motivated and keeps them going, but the bottom line is that they understand that we lost a game, and that's never easy.

Q.  Playing at Oklahoma, they've always been kind of spread around, but it looks like maybe they've shifted to more running game here the second half.  As a defensive coordinator how do you prepare for that?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, it does.  At times, sometimes you would‑‑ you'd like to know exactly what your opponent is going to do.  You'd like to know that from week to week what you see on film is what you're going to get on Saturday.  Obviously Trevor Knight who has been their quarterback gets injured and Coach Stoops has announced that he's not going to play this week, and Cody Thomas stepped in there for them.  Their first half they had stayed true to form offensively what they had been.  They didn't have a tremendous amount of success in that first half against Texas Tech, and they came out and ran the ball extremely well under some different personnel groupings in the second half.
They are a very physical offense.  The offensive line, a very big and physical group.  They have the running back, don't want to mispronounce his name.  I don't want to make this guy mad.  Samaje, they've got him and Alex Ross both running the ball very effectively.  The two tight ends, the fullback, 48, that guy is as good a fullback as we've had in the conference in a while.  He's a head thumper, and they ran the ball very well, and that's kind of what I talk about offensively, and it shows the diversity of OU's offense that in the course of one game they can switch identities in a hurry and have equal success.  The second half I don't know exactly how many points it was, I think 30‑some points in the second half to close the game out and turn a game that they were losing into a game that they were comfortably ahead.

Q.  Does it change your preparation at all with the quarterback change at Oklahoma?
CLINT BOWEN:  Not as much.  They are both similar guys in that the guy they brought in has athletic ability.  He was a part of that running game.  They had a lot of QB run game in the second half of that Tech game where he was getting around the edge and doing some things, so he's a good athlete, as well.  They seem to be similar in that skill set.
Obviously Trevor Knight probably had better command on the offense in general just due to experience, but in terms of bringing a guy‑‑ they brought in a guy who really can do similar things with it.  The bigger part of the equation is what 11 total are they going to put on the field.  Are they going to be the big guys that they finished the game with Texas Tech, or are they going to be more with the three wide receivers that they had been during the season.

Q.  Kind of a mix of young and old offensive linemen up front.  After watching film on Saturday, how much did the offensive line (Inaudible)?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, I thought they did a nice job, and you're right, we do have everywhere from a true freshman in Junior in there to seniors like Pat and Smithburg, and then Joe is a little bit in between there and Larry is in between.  They did; I think they're all starting to play better as a group.  I think they're starting to work together and communicate better as a group, which is helping them get a hat on a hat at all times.  I think their fundamentals have improved.  In that game where we didn't have any of the obvious runaways with a guy coming free, we were making TCU's earn them, beat them around the line, and then gave Michael a little bit more time to throw the ball and get downfield.

Q.  Just talk about your team's understanding that, hey, we still lost the game, but confidence‑wise, it has to elevate the confidence.  These two teams that you have left to play starting with this week are obviously tough, but does it help the team to take more confidence into those types of games, and do you think you will?
CLINT BOWEN:  Yeah, and I think the confidence comes on a couple different fronts.  One, I think it provides confidence in that they know now that if they show up and work during the course of the week and they prepare that they have confidence in the system and the way that things operate and what we're doing to get them ready for games.  You know, it's confidence in what we're telling them, if they carry it out, we'll have results on the field, and I think there is also confidence that they lined up against a team that quite frankly everyone thought that was going to kind of steamroll them over, and I don't think our players felt that way, but that's the outside perception, and let's call it, TCU is a good team, and I think it proved at a lot of different positions, our guys held their own, made plays against that type of competition, so I think it does validate a lot of things that we've been telling them, that hey, you guys belong here.  You're recruited here to Kansas for a reason, and you're right where you belong and this is what you're supposed to be doing.

Q.  Looking ahead, not to get too far ahead, but you talked about matching TCU's physicality, and it seems like you were pretty pleased with how that went.  Same thing with OU in that running game you talked about, and then looking into the future, does this match up well for you guys down the stretch because you like physical games?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, I had hoped from the first day I stood up here, I said one of the things that we have to do is be able to match teams' physical play because that's what this conference is.  People around the nation want to say this is a spread, wing‑it‑all‑over‑the‑field, kind of that type of mentality, but that's not what this conference is.  There's plenty of teams in this conference that will hit you right at the line of scrimmage and big boy you if they can.  Oklahoma is one of those teams that'll do it, but most of them are.  If you can't match the way a team plays physically, then a lot of things that you try to do just never look very good, and so yeah, that's a weekly challenge for us, and hopefully our players are starting to grasp that until we can fight back and win the physical part of games, not a whole lot else matters.

Q.  What's been the biggest reason for Nigel's success?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, I think it's a few things.  I think it's a conscious effort to get him the ball on the coaches' part of things.  I think we referred to earlier the offensive line playing better, giving Michael a little bit more time.  I think it's Michael and him developing some chemistry and some trust in each other to get the ball to him, and then quite frankly, it's a lot of Nigel just going up and making some pretty special plays.  So I think it's a combination of those things.

Q.  How is Michael injury wise, health wise?
CLINT BOWEN:  He is good.  We're a lot farther ahead this week than we were last week, so I feel a lot better this time, this week, than I did a week ago.

Q.  Is that tough to do, to get through it during the week, because obviously some of that toughness hanging in the pocket or getting up after you've been knocked down, you talked a lot about that.  Is that something that's kind of overlooked or overrated, or underrated?
CLINT BOWEN:  Yeah, I would say it's underrated.  This time of year in college football, if you're playing, there's parts of your body that don't feel right, and that's every player, every team that's had a substantial role on their team throughout the year.  If you're one of those guys that can't handle that, then college football is a rough business for you, and Michael is obviously proving week after week that he's a pretty tough guy, and you know you can count on him to go out there and battle through some of the discomforts that come with football.

Q.  Can you talk about the season Jimmay is having and what are his chances to play on Sundays?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, he's having a tremendous year.  I think it's been fun to watch him kind of come out and finally display the type of talents that we've seen him have for a while, and once again, that's another conscious effort to get him part of the game plan because he is a talented young man.  Some of those catch, and more importantly the run after the catch that he's displaying shows a lot of athleticism on his part.
His opportunity at the next level, I don't know where that's at.  Obviously I think he's a pretty special kid, and where football is going in general, those guys who can do more than one thing in terms of being blockers, runners after the catch, receiving guys, I mean, there's places for that, obviously, and a tremendous young man, and I wish him all the best and hope that happens for him.

Q.  Knowing what you know about him, and I know you didn't spend much time with the offense prior to recently, but are you surprised it took him this long to have this kind of breakout?  The tight end position has been his for a while now, and he's been that same guy, that match‑up guy, that athletic guy.  Do you think it was just a senior thing that kicked it into high gear for him?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, I think he has continued to improve.  He's been in the program, like I say, known him for a long time.  We recruited Jimmay before I left here before.  We actually recruited him as a linebacker.  Our corners coach, Je'Ney Jackson, is actually who recruited him, and we had him pegged for the defensive side of the ball back at that time, and obviously he switched over.
But I think part of it is that when we made some changes on the offensive thoughts and the offensive way we were going to run our offense, you know, every week we go to defend people, you see their best players get the ball quite a bit, and we're sitting here in my mind and as their offensive coaches, we knew Jimmay was one of our more talented guys but wasn't getting the touches, and when you have a special guy you've got to get him in the game and get him to be a part of the game so they can affect the game.

Q.  This probably doesn't mean much right now, but in the big picture of it all, he's a semifinalist for that Mackey Award; that's got to help any program, but especially a program like this where those things aren't happening every year?
CLINT BOWEN:  Absolutely.  One, we're extremely excited for him because he's earned it and deserves that award and we want all our players to get all the recognition that they deserve, and of course it helps our program.  It proves that you can come to Kansas and still be a well‑known, in this case a nationally known player if you go out and make plays and do the things you're supposed to do.  It just points out that Kansas football is relevant in the college landscape.

Q.  Ngalu is not on here.  He didn't play last week obviously, but still the same deal?
CLINT BOWEN:  No, Ngalu will be done.  Unfortunately Ngalu will be out for the remainder of the season.

Q.  That transition into Junior, he's the guy now; you liked what he did two weeks ago, but how about last week?  Different circumstances last week, but did he stand up again to that?
CLINT BOWEN:  He did.  He went in there, handled the game mentally and physically well, and Ngalu (sic) is a big, physical kid, when you talk about for a true freshman kid of his size, but I think the thing that's most pleasing is that he's handled it mentally.  He hasn't let the game get too big for him, and that he competes and fights.  It's pretty easy to go in there and line up, Big 12 football game, you see an opponent that has the reputation that TCU has, and some guys let that affect their mind a little bit, and Junior has been mentally tough enough to battle through that actually and play very well.

Q.  I know up don't like to talk about yourself in this whole coaching situation, but when you hear‑‑ I don't know if you did hear, but Gary Patterson had some nice things to say about you being deserving of this opportunity, obviously Coach Mangino did the week before that.  What do those things mean to you, regardless of the job and what's going to happen there?
CLINT BOWEN:  Well, personally those comments do actually mean stuff, a guy like Coach Mangino who has been so helpful in my career.  Anytime someone says something positive about you, obviously you notice, and it means a lot they took the time to say those things and felt them, and so someone of Gary's stature, who I have a tremendous amount of respect for in this business, you know, for what he's accomplished and for what I know his football mindset is.  So yeah, you always appreciate if someone says something kind about you, and for Gary to say that, for where he's been and what he's accomplished, obviously I don't make any secret I've followed TCU and admired what he's done.  Yeah, that meant a lot to me.

Q.  You're obviously full of confidence, you always have been, and have been throughout this process here, but does it validate anything for you?  Does it make you feel like, man, I've got other people noticing that I can do this thing?
CLINT BOWEN:  No, you know, as a coordinator, you're thrown pretty much in a similar role to what the head coaching job is, it's just half the team instead of the whole team.  I feel like for years now I've been able to rally a defense to get guys to play hard and to do the things that‑‑ do things right and do the things that help us win games.  I think this year just increases the role of kind of what I've had for a few years now; just instead of half the team, it's the whole team.

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