Opening statement: Good week of practice. We took the load off of them because it was such a short week. Guys came back rested. They had Friday and Saturday off, came back Sunday and it was like a Tuesday. Monday, a Wednesday. Today like a Thursday. Little less time on the field because we had introduced Iowa State a little bit last week. I think the guys are ready. It feels like forever ago that we played a game, but we’re rested.
On Shane Buechele and how he looks in practice: Good. I think other than it him a little bit longer to warm up, that’s the only real complaint I’ve heard from him.
On if this team will play well in Ames compared to Hollywood: It’s unfathomable to me. I’ve been wrong before, but with so few precious opportunities guaranteed to you to play this great game, we understand that the last three games, the Big 12 doesn’t count any of those. We’ve got an opportunity to go 1-0 in the Big 12 and get back on the right side of the ledger. It’s irrelevant who we’re playing and where we’re playing them. It’s about us and the bunker mentality that we have within our locker room. I would be shocked if we didn’t come out and play with the same kind of effort, energy, and togetherness that we did a couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles.
On being a coach at Iowa State when big names come to Ames: It’s a big deal, that’s for sure. I don’t remember playing Texas at Jack Trice to be honest with you. Being in the (Big 12) North, I only remember playing them in 2010 down here when we beat them. So I guess we would have played them up there the following year. Any time a big name comes into town, that place is rocking. It doesn’t matter, it’s a really, really neat college football atmosphere because they’re going to pack that stadium whether it’s Northern Iowa, Texas, Iowa, those fans come out and show their support. They’re loud. They’re raucous. I would imagine it would be much of the same especially Thursday night on national TV.
On what he remembers from his three years at Iowa State: I remember great people. The people of Iowa are fantastic people. I remember a great college football environment, the great college town Ames is. I remember the cold in December and January, but I remember the great springs and falls that we had there as well. Really, really salt of the earth people that have a really passionate approach to their college football team.
On if he’s made a decision on if Buechele will play: We have. I’m not going to tell Iowa State or Matt Campbell who is going to play.
On his impressions from watching Big 12 football this past weekend: I don’t know. We really don’t focus a lot on the macro. We’re so concerned with the micro and going 1-0 every day in practice to set ourselves up to be prepared to go 1-0 on the week. I used that. I think I watched one football game from start to finish on Saturday and that was (his son) TD’s flag football game at West Ridge Middle School. I really tried to use the time to spend with family and unwind a little bit and decompress for a day, then get back on Sunday morning at 8 a.m. getting ready to go play a game.
On if the team not accepting moral victories is organic or from the top: I think it was something we addressed right when we got back. I’ve said before, I can’t tell you how many times I heard the word congratulations and it made my skin crawl. Congratulations for what? For showing up and playing hard? We really talked to them about compartmentalizing the two things. One, we lost the game that we need to finish in order to get where we’re going. We need to hurt and we need to be upset about that, and we need to work tirelessly to correct the things that caused us to lose that game. However, in this box, compartmentalized, is ‘wow, look at what we’re capable of when we play really hard, when we play for each other, when we play really physical.’ Now if we can correct some of the mistakes that led to the loss, we’ve got a chance to be pretty good. I think that’s not a moral victory. That’s learning from the positives of what happened in a loss. We know that there’s no asterisk in the ledger by that L. It’s just L. We’ve got to work tirelessly to make sure that in games like that we’re prepared enough to finish.
On if that is an indicator of where this program is: I don’t know. Not to sound flippant, but I don’t really care. It is what it is. We are who we are, and we don’t pat each other on the back for losing a football game. I think we learned a very valuable lesson the first week of the season which was we cannot pay attention to what anybody outside of the walls of our building says or does or thinks about us. We’ve got to worry about what our coaches and our teammates say and think about us.
On if the staff addressed the running game: It has been a lot of idea sharing, a lot of self-reflection, a lot of critiquing of who we are, what we can be, what we need to be, what our personnel will allow us to be. We lost three of our best run blockers in Andrew Beck, Elijah Rodriguez, and Connor Williams and we’re three games into the season. Does that mean we’re going to stop running the football? No, but we’ve got to figure out ways to get in formations and to call runs that allow the guys that are playing to be successful running the football. No great team, there’s been great offenses that haven’t run the football very well or haven’t attempted to run the football very well, but no great team has won big prizes at the end of the season without a really strong run game. It’s our job. It’s one of the most challenging things as an offensive coach that I’ve been through, is kind of figuring out how do we stay true to what we want to be, but put our players that we have to play, put them in position to run the football successfully? We feel like we’ve addressed it. I think you’ll see some new wrinkles. Obviously, it helps that we had the off week. With this week being a short week though that accelerated the process a little bit. We’ve been definitely at the drawing board in that offensive staff room for the better part of a week and a half.
On the offensive line: We got Terrell Cuney back late last week. In an emergency he could go in. Derek Kerstetter is playing well. If we needed to play him, we would play him as well. Right now, the five guys that are going to start are playing at a higher level than those two guys, so there won’t be any rotation or anything like that. If we get in a pinch, at least those guys are serviceable at this point.
On UT student government’s referendum on bringing back the A&M rivalry game: Do I think it will ever happen? Yeah, I do. When? I don’t know. That’s one of the most historic rivalries in college football history. I do think it will happen to answer your question, but I don’t have any details. That’s well outside of my scope of influence. I do think, eventually, you’re going to see that game again. When that happens, your guess is as good as mine.
On students speaking out about wanting the rivalry to return: Any time the student body rallies around a cause, I think the powers that be listen. Now the powers that be are in that position because they have to make decisions. I’ve heard this saying once; assistant coaches make suggestions, head coaches make decisions. That’s kind of like being an administrator or a politician. You listen to the suggestions and some carry more weight than others, but ultimately they’ve got to make that decision.
On if the offense’s tempo will slow with the offensive line depth issues: I think the one thing that helps an offensive line is to go with some pace and some tempo and not allow defensive lines to dig their cleats in the ground, so to speak, and fire off the ball and create a little bit of confusion and panic, so to speak, on the other side of the ball. We’re never going to be a run a play every 10 seconds team, but if we’ve got some momentum, you’ll certainly see some tempo. That’s usually the way we approach tempo. It’s kind of a momentum thing. It’s a ‘how are you playing’ thing. It’s a ‘do you have them on their heels’ thing, not a dictated ‘we’re going to go at this pace no matter what.’
On if health is a factor in tempo: No. I don’t know how many plays a game we’re averaging, but I don’t think it’s astronomical, especially in regulation. We played the double overtime game, so that might skew the numbers a little bit.
On if there were any plans on a pregame demonstration: It hasn’t been broached to us. It really has been a non-issue on our team. None of our players have mentioned anything to myself or anybody on the staff. I think it’s a little bit different in college football because we’re never out for the anthem. We come out after the anthem. It’s really been a non-issue with our team.
On if he still feels like he’s teaching the team how to win: Yeah, I think so. I think any time you’re dealing with the recent history that we’re dealing with, winning consistently is a learned trait and is something that is habit forming. I think Vince Lombardi said it, winning is a habit and so is losing. We’ve got to create those winning habits and we’ve got to finish ballgames in ways that winning teams finish games