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October 17, 2017

Kliff Kingsbury

Lubbock, Texas

Q. How do you handle last year's game? Do you bring it up early in the week and then just shut it down?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: No, not really. I mean, it's not one you have to bring up. It was that bad. Everybody who was on that sideline knows that, so it's not something we're harping on. It's a new season. They're a very good team. They've had some great wins here recently, and we know that we'll have to play our best game. So that's been our main focus is just what we can do to get better and get prepared for this week.

Q. What do you think about what Lanning is doing, and with you being a quarterback, would you ever consider playing defense?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, that wasn't my forte, but for him to step right in there and you can see he's a very heady player on defense, he diagnoses things quickly, tough enough to stick his nose in there and then come over on offense, and they still have him throwing the ball and checking at the line and doing all sorts of things. It's just -- as a coach you just tip your hat to him. That's an impressive feat that he's pulling off to be able to be the quarterback on both sides of the football. With all the academic things you have on you and all the time constraints you have as a college athlete, it's beyond impressive.

Q. I'm not saying you would do it, but just along those lines to follow up on that, who on your offense has the defensive mentality that would convert to being a good defensive player?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: I think Cam Batson has that kind of toughness. I mean, he's a little undersized but I could see him hopping in there at corner and he'd compete his tail off. Keke is probably the same way. But like I said, to be able to be the quarterback on that side, get all the defensive calls, get everybody lined up and then come over on the offense and be able to do it as efficiently as he has, that's a whole different ballgame.

Q. Last week y'all had a 35-24 lead, got that big interception by Des Smith, one second left in the third quarter, you really pushed them around, gave Ben Morgan 190 rushing yards, last two drives over 100 yards and a touchdown, but then three three-and-outs, only two runs over the next three drives, all three-and-outs; why did y'all stop running the ball?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, that's a good question. Took a shot on 1st and 10; 2nd and 10, play action, missed a comeback that was wide open like we anticipated; got a 3rd down, tried to throw it, didn't get it. And then there were a couple run-pass options in there that we had the pass and we pulled it and threw it and didn't hit it like we'd been hitting it the rest of the game. So that was really it. I mean, that's how our offense is built. If you've got the pass, take it; you'd just like to complete it if you're going to do which.

Q. A couple of those were run-pass options?

Q. And then Tre King had two runs for, I think, 42 yards and a touchdown on that scoring drive and didn't get another carry the rest of the game. Was there something up with him?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: No, just kind of how the game went. We have different packages for different guys going in each week, and he did a good job executing when he was called upon, and so did Justin when he was running the football. That's really what it came down to.

Q. Looking back on that, being in that situation, would you have done it any differently when you say, okay, we're going to run the ball like we've been doing or we're not?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: You know, I would have liked to have completed the passes that are open. That's what it comes down to. In our league you can't sit on an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter and just go three-and-out running the football. We'd like to have completed some passes with the football and not gone three-and-out, but I wouldn't have changed the play calls.

Q. Do you feel like you would have gone three-and-out if you kept running the ball?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Possibly. The couple times we did hand it off, we weren't getting much. They were doing things schematically to try to take away the run at that point, as well, so everybody adjusted, and they adjusted, and they got the momentum and were playing harder and executed better than us.

Q. When Alexander was quarterback (indiscernible) Kempt kind of come out of nowhere. How does that affect the preparation that you might have done on their team?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: You know, he's playing at a high level, and I've felt like their previous starter had a ton of ability, watching him last year and into this season. I don't think it changes too much. We've gotten a small sample size in two games and he's played at a high level and haven't turned the ball over, which is impressive, and we know we're going to get a heavy dose of Lanning on short yardage and red zone and things of that nature, so I don't think it's changed too much. They've kept running the same offense and executing at a high level.

Q. You mentioned that Kempt doesn't turn the ball over or hasn't turned the ball over. Do you kind of have a sense for --
KLIFF KINGSBURY: An accurate passer. He diagnoses defenses quickly, giving his receivers -- they've got some big receivers that will go up and make plays, giving his receivers a chance to make plays on the ball and just the way he's running the system, his checks at the line, the way he's operating, you can tell he fully grasps what they're trying to do.

Q. They're starting to get some national attention for the success that they've had. What improvements have you seen from the Cyclones from last year?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: I thought they were really good last year. I think Coach Campbell does a tremendous job. This year defensively they're doing a good job of not giving up many big plays. You can see that. They're keeping everything in front of them, and then offensively just really not turning the football over. That's a big key to their success the last couple weeks, and if they continue to do that, just like anybody, you're going to have success.

Q. When you see what Iowa State defensively -- of course they got a shut-out against Kansas in Norman?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, they did. They make you earn everything. They play quite a bit of zone coverage and keep things in front of them. They come downhill and tackle well, and their secondary, their safeties, their corners are good tacklers. Their front is disruptive in the run game, and then 3rd-and-long situations they're kind of going to drop everybody out and rally to the football and keep it underneath. So they have a good scheme. They've handled everything well. It'll be a big challenge. They're playing as well as anybody right now.

Q. You've mentioned execution for your team with regards to not getting it right; what aspects of that are they struggling with the most?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: You know, just the other day, it was in a crucial situation on both sides of the football. Really all three phases. You can't miss field goals, and then when it swings like that, somebody has to the go step up and make a play, and they were making all the big-time catches over our guys, and offensively we weren't executing, weren't throwing well, weren't running good routes. When we had a chance to run the football we weren't really moving many bodies at that point, and so they stepped their game up and we didn't. So we've got to answer the bell in that moment when things start turning on you, someone has got to step up.

Q. Do you have any update on the kicking situation?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: No. That'll be decided throughout the week, and we'll figure out who's going to be the guy.

Q. You've got a waiver; going into this week if you're 25 yards -- maybe does it change the way you approach it this week?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: It could. I mean, we'll see how the week goes, but yeah, definitely. If you don't feel like you can make it from a certain distance, it definitely changes your preparation as a play caller and where your mind is at.

Q. Gilmore and Coleman traveled; what's their status for this week?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Hopefully we'll get them both back. That's our plan. They were kind of emergency still dealing with some issues last week, but I'm hoping that they'll be ready to go by Saturday.

Q. How about Morgan?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: He should be ready to go.

Q. And Mason Reed?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Mason is kind of day-to-day. Not sure if he'll be back for this week.

Q. You said there was nothing wrong with Octavius. Last week you pulled (indiscernible) guys simply didn't practice, as well as the others, and therefore that's why they didn't play very much the week before. Is that the situation with him?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I think we're just trying to get him going a little bit, and I expect him to have a role this week. But obviously we didn't get him into the game plan last week.

Q. Have you seen the kicking struggles in practice as well as the game, or is it just when the lights come on, something happens?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I haven't seen it in practice, but we've struggled in the games, obviously, so we've got to have some way to -- where that translates from the practice field to the game field and handle those moments better.

Q. Was there an unexpected setback along the way with Clayton Hatfield, or did you know a month ago that he could be at this moment?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, we knew it was more of a long-term injury.

Q. What do you see from their running game? (Indiscernible.)
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Really good back. He reminds me of D'Andre all the ways they use him. They throw it to him, he's got great hands. Tough, aggressive in the run game. They're aggressive in pass protection. Really dynamic back, strong. You can't say enough good things about him.

Q. How is it to defend with him and Joe in there at the same time?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: It's tough. You've kind of got to pick your poison and come downhill, and the thing with Lanning is he can throw it, too. So he'll start by using a run and pull up and run a pop pass and you've devoted some defenders to him, it's hard to cover all three of those options.

Q. When you go into a week like this with both of those quarterbacks, and I know Park is probably not making the trip, but do you have to practice for him, as well?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: You know, I'm not sure. When Park is in or Kempt are in, it's a very similar type offense they're running, so we'll prepare for those guys, but then when Lanning comes in, they have their stuff that they do.

Q. Vasher obviously had a breakout game, great first half?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, proud of him. He's gotten better and better. He's handling himself better on and off the field, really growing up, which has been awesome, work ethic, everything you want to see. Like I've said from the beginning, we've kind of brought him along slowly, and it was great to see him have success with that hard work, and we'll continue to get him in, continue to make sure when he comes in that he's comfortable with what we're doing and can have success.

Q. Stockton has had a great season, both as a receiver in the backfield but as a runner between the tackles, too. What's your perspective on what he's done this year?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, happy for him. He had a rough year last year due to a bunch of things kind of out of his control, and I know people were down on him, but he's a dynamic player, really like the way he's finishing runs this year, harder than he ever has, between the tackles, like you mentioned, getting those tough yards, protecting the ball, been good catching out of the backfield.

So it's awesome to see him bounce back the way he has and all the hard work he put in the off-season paying off for him.

Q. Do you feel like Shimonek is having a problem with pocket presence especially like late in the game last weekend, and what can you do?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I think there were a few that you'd want him to maybe hang in there a little bit. I keep going back to he's an older player but an inexperienced player somewhat, and those type situations, those type moments, there's only way to learn from them, and that's to do it and go through it. He's making some great throws, and we'll learn from some of those other moments.

Q. A couple weeks ago we talked about responding to losses last year versus this year and they bounced back pretty well against Kansas. Do you think that's something you can focus on again this week with the way that last week played out or have you thought about that yet?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I don't think so. This group understands what we can be. We just have to put four quarters together, and we haven't done that yet this season, but we've had moments where we're really playing well together as a team, and we have to put together an entire game, and I think they all understand what happened last year when we played Iowa State, so there's not going to be any pouting or feeling sorry for ourselves. We're going to get up and put the best game plan together we can and play our best game.

Q. The other day Coach Gibson from West Virginia, he said after the game that he (indiscernible) second half. It seemed like last year that was when Pat struggled it was that kind of approach that gave him problems, and obviously if they have guys covering fours, have you thought about that, or is that the defensive approach that gives this offense the most trouble?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: You know, at times you've got to stay out of their 3rd-and-long situations. When you're in 3rd and 9, 3rd and 10, that's a tough defense to face, dropping eight guys, and they do a job with that three double cloud coverage that they run. But I feel like we attacked what they were doing most of the day and just had those three drives at the end where we just weren't able to execute.

Q. Do you expect to see that coverage from Iowa State again?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, it's the same coverage. They play a bunch of that throughout the game. It's one of their main coverages throughout the game, 1st and 2nd down versus your 10 personnel versus your empty packages. So we'll see a bunch of the same coverages moving forward, actually.

Q. Folks have asked regarding Nic, why he is reluctant or seems reluctant if he doesn't see an open receiver; would you like to see him check down and get five yards or given your maybe questionable depth at quarterback, would you like him to play it safe?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: No, I think, once again, it's just instinctual stuff where you have to play the game and be in those situations and practice. A lot of times you're not taking off, you're not running it, and once you get in the game, when those opportunities arise, you've got to take advantage of it, and you try and get to 2nd and 5 instead of 2nd and 10, and that's something that he made a couple scrambles last week, and we've got to keep progressing at that. But I think that's just the more he plays, the more comfortable he'll get with getting his instincts back and making those type plays.

Q. Was Art one of those guys you're glad you don't have to play again after last year?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, there were a few of those guys I wish would have left early last year, but unfortunately our guy was the only one that decided to do that. He's a tremendous player. They just get it close and he goes up and gets it. They move him around in the slot, he blocks his tail off every snap. So yeah, he's had a heck of a career, and we'll have to have a plan.

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