RedRaiderSports - Takeaways: Kingsbury discusses team mindset, overall health against ISU
football Edit

Takeaways: Kingsbury discusses team mindset, overall health against ISU

The media got the chance to speak with the head coach, Breiden Fehoko, Jah’shawn Johnson, and Justis Nelson following practice today. Here are some notes and quotes from the availability…

…With two games left on the schedule, how does the head coach view the focus and intensity of his team?

“I think they are focused, and they understand what is at stake. We have tried to relay them the environment and how well this team has played all year. This record isn’t indicative of how good of team they are. We will get there best punch, and I think they know that. They are mentally prepared for that, and they have been ready so far.”

…One thing Kingsbury and many players harped on this season is playing a “complete game” how does Kingsbury view his team’s chances of finally putting it all together this Saturday?

“We need to. We are running out of games to do it. I think last week, for the most part, our special teams played really well and that was big step and now we have to put all three together.”

…Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said that they specifically installed a three-man front for their game versus Texas Tech. Many teams are adopting this strategy and dropping eight into coverage versus Tech. How has this affected the inside receivers?

“You just have to understand what they are doing and know their role. If we are asking you to block 50 snaps, then you’re going to block 50 snaps. It is what it is and is a part of the game, and they understand that. We tried to give them the ball as much as we can, but when they are dropping eight, you have to take what is there.”

..Kingsbury said that they are working to find the best concepts to get the inside guys open, but dropping eight has caused problems.

…Kingsbury is not worried about the projected weather on Saturday and does not expect it to have any bearing on his offense or his play calling.

“I would think it wouldn’t. I heard it was supposed to be windy and a little chilly, but we see some of that here in Lubbock. I think we can handle those conditions, but we will see.”

“We ran it 44 times last week so whatever we have to do to win the game. Pat does a good job of throwing it in all types of weather, so whatever is working is what we will do.”

On Da’Leon Ward:

“He’s been better. He was kind of non-contact today, so he will be a game time decision. He is definitely in better shape than he was last week to play.”

…”We will see. They are game time decisions.” On the other RBs. Kingsbury did say that Quenton White was ready to go. Has also tried putting a few different receivers back there to “get some touches” as well.

…Felton hasn’t done a lot in practice so far, but Kliff said that Felton knows the system well enough (and due to their numbers) that if he can go, he can go, no matter if he practiced or not.

…Kolin Hill and Keke Coutee should be ready to play on Saturday. “They will be up.” According to Kliff.

…Kingsbury was asked about the status of D’Vonta Hinton, Gary Moore, and Devin Lauderdale and if we should expect to see them for the rest of the season.

“All I can go off of is this week, and I would say that they will not play this week.”

…Are those three guys still on the team?

“Ummmm yeah, yeah. It is still week-to-week as far as that goes. It is a weekly decision. A coach’s decision.”

…Kingsbury and Hays mixed up some things on the offensive line against Oklahoma State, moving Stawarz over to left guard, starting true freshman Bailey Smith at right guard with Morales at Center and Brown and Steele at the two tackles. I asked if he would roll with that same five this week.

“We will see. We moved some things around and tried to create some competition there. I haven’t been pleased with the run game or pass protection really. We are trying to find the right combination to handle the three down linemen. It is tough when you can’t do that.”

…The biggest surprise was seeing Bailey Smith get the nod on Saturday. Kingsbury’s comments on the true freshman’s game:

“He played hard. When you break down the film, there is a lot to clean up, but he got in there and played hard and hustled around tried to be physical. For a young guy you appreciate that.”

…Kingsbury was non-committal on if Smith would get the start this week and said he has been working with both the ones and the twos. He is just trying to create competition.

…What have Kingsbury or coach Robinson said to Hatfield?

“He has made game-winning kicks for us before, and you just talk about that. We pointed out that there were 50 other plays that could have won us that game, and it didn’t come down to that. He has opportunities these next few weeks to win games for us, and he knows that. He’s been kicking the ball great all week. He’s had a short term memory, and he has stepped up in big games for us, so I’m not concerned of that lingering.”

…After looking back at the film, how does Kingsbury feel like Mahomes played on Saturday, and how has he looked heading into Iowa State?

“Much better. Much better. He is healthy and finally throwing the ball full-go in practice. That’s key. That’s how it was last week pretty much. Had a full week of practice, and his footwork was better, made cleaner decisions, and that comes with the higher reps.”

Breiden Fehoko

…The defense stepped up in a big way again in the fourth quarter against OSU, what has the defense come together to do that have made them so effective in stepping up in the final quarter?

“I think just learning from the first six games of the season. I mean ever since the OU game, I think we have kind of come together and said you know what, we have six more left –two more not – and there is some pressure but we want to play like there is no pressure. Everybody just bought in. I’m grateful for the guys next to me and the guys behind me who have stepped in and bought in for me to do my job.”

…Luke Stice received a lot of game reps against Oklahoma State, recording five tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack. How has his motivation helped with the defense?

“Luke is such a great emotional leader, day in and day out. No one like to come to work on Mondays even if you’re playing football or not. You see him, and he is always happy pumping everybody up. He is always excited. To see him get his shot and make his plays, it makes me happy as a player. He has been making strides as a player, he is getting better, and he is going to surprise a lot of people these last two weeks.”

…What does the defense have left in these final two games?

“I think right now with these next two games, with our backs against the wall, I think it is time for our pistols to fire. It is time to bring everything out and leave it on the table. Two games left, two games to get bowl eligible. It’s a lot of pressure for us, but at the same time we have to keep playing hard, put good things on the field, and that’s all you can ask for.”

…With two games left on the schedule, what is the main thing this team is focusing on improvement-wise? Any specific areas?

“We want to be consistent. At times you see the defense play good, we play good as a team. Then there is moments where we slip up a little. I’ll forget to my job, or the guy next to me forgets to do his job and it costs us. For me, as a second returner, I need to sharpen up my skills as well as the other guys. I think just doing it more consistently on a consistent basis.”

…While maybe the defensive stats haven’t shown this, the defense has been making some strides in the consistency area. Why have they been able to make progress in that regard?

“What has helped us progress is the defense has gained confidence week in, and week out. We look at the things we do on film, and you can’t take that away, and we are just building on all the positive things we do.”

…What is the game plan versus Iowa State on Saturday?

“We don’t want to let their record fool us. They are a tough team. You look at their record, and they should be 6-4 right now. You can never underestimate a team especially at home. Iowa State plays tough, they always will be tough. Just play hard and sticking to the game plan”

Jah’Shawn Johnson

…Johnson says that the defensive players’ mindset is to continue to get the ball back to the offense to win the game.

“We’ve just been selling out for each other. We have had some very physical practices and the scout team has been giving us some very good looks. We know we gotta win each week to get a bowl game, and we are doing whatever it takes to win.”

…Expecting to see both RBs Mike Warren and David Montgomery on Saturday. As well as QB Joel Lanning who also likes to run.

…They are preparing for the weather, but it shouldn’t be a factor.

Justis Nelson

…Nelson was asked where the team is at heading into these final two games.

“I think the whole team feels [the pressure]. These are must-win games, and we are playing against a good Iowa State team. Despite their record, they have been in every game that they played. We have to execute. We have to be on top of our game and can’t make as many mistakes.”

…Forcing turnovers and not making crucial mistakes are things they want to continue to capitalize on. Nelson said the emphasis is to just get the ball back to the offense.

“He is a big body with great ball skills. They will throw it to him even when he is covered. He will go up and get it and make a play. He is good at using his hands to catch the ball. It will be a challenge.”

…Nelson said Lazard moves around – on both outside and inside – a lot on offense, and he should have plenty of opportunities to “get a piece” of the wide receiver.

…Nelson doesn’t think the weather will be a big problem.

…Tech has been very close these last few games, and Nelson believes the confidence is still there for this team.

“The confidence is still there. The games haven’t gone how we have wanted them to, but the coaches are still confident and the players are still confident. These games we have to go in and play confident. We have to sell out and leave everything out there.”

…Does Nelson feel like these last few games are pressure or are they motivation for the team?

“I’d say motivation. I mean, it is win or go home. Coach said it is like the high school playoffs. You keep winning, you keep going.”