Tracking Mack: Sept. 20
Opening statement: Practice has been great all week; the guys are upbeat, and they're really excited about coming back home and trying to get back on the winning streak at home that we had. But also the start of Big 12 is a special time around here, and they've got great respect for what they saw with Iowa State last week with Iowa. They know they can run the ball, (Bret) Meyer is a great quarterback, and we've seen how they've handled the north the last couple of years and how they're really tough, and only giving up 85 yards rushing with their defense. So we understand it's going to be a tough game, and we can't wait until it starts. Hope it's hot.
On Iowa State's coaching: Dan (McCarney) is a tough line-coach by trade when he was growing up at Iowa, he worked for Hayden Fry and Barry Alvarez, and he does an amazing job of getting them ready to play every week, and they play hard. They'll try to run the ball every time, so they're going to come in here, line up, and try and bloody our noses. Hit us right in the mouth, keep the ball, and then use play-action pass to try and get the ball deep with their tall receivers. Stevie Hicks is a 220-pound running back, and they're just going to come in and try and control us, and then use the quarterback with play-action and quarterback runs. Defensively, they've been a bend-not-break defense; stop the run and make you throw the ball underneath. They have not been a bump, they've only blitzed 24 times in three games, unlike Rice that had blitzed 96 times in two games. So they're more of the tackle you, chase the ball, make you protect the ball, make you throw it underneath, and if you throw it deep, you're going to have to win a jump ball. I think their offensive line is as good as we've seen in this league; they're big and physical, four seniors all of whom are listed as pro-prospects.
On Sergio Kindle: I'd hope [he'd get more snaps this week]. Today was a big day to see how much we're doing in the learning curve to try to get him on the field more, so we would like to see him get more snaps. We won't know until tonight [after the film]. You know you can watch them run in practice, but until you get your film and really study the techniques and make sure they had the right drops and lined up right. It's not an easy week to play a guy unless he knows what to do because they're so experienced.
On Greg Johnson: He did really well and has done everything right in practice, so if he continues to do it, we've got Justin Moore who is a junior, so if we continue to play Greg (Johnson) and it gets to a point where Hunter (Lawrence) could be red-shirted than we would use Justin Moore in a back-up role rather than bringing Hunter (Lawrence) out. We wouldn't want to ruin Hunter's year unless he would takeover. [Greg Johnson] hasn't missed one [field goal] all week. What we're trying to do is kick him less in practice; we think he overworks sometimes with the punting and the kickoffs and the kicking, and he does so much, so we're limiting the number of reps he does in practice - we're trying to make them special reps not just reps - so he doesn't wear himself out. He can kick them a long way, he can kick them 50-plus yards, he's got a great leg. And we have to remember that he hasn't done this since his freshman year, in game, so he's an old-rookie I guess.
On starting Big 12 Conference play: Last week was a disappointing week across the board for the Big 12 and for us out of conference, so this is a new start for everybody. Everybody has new goals; one of your major goals, and the major goal, is to win your conference championship. Our conference is such that you have to win your division, and then go to the [conference championship] game and then win it. So it's a long hard road here, and we've got the Sam Houston State game put in the middle of conference, which is unusual for us; I don't think we've ever had that. But from here on, there's no dodging; every game means a whole lot and it's really, really important. Iowa State could very well be the team that challenges or wins the north, so even if you beat them Saturday, you could play them again, and we were a field goal away from playing them last year.
On some of the media writing off the Big 12 after last week: It's just too early. Two weeks ago they had the teams picked for the National Championship and that has already changed. My gosh, in 2001 we were going into the Colorado game with no chance to play for the national championship, by the time we got to the field, we were guaranteed to play in it if we won, and then we lost and got kicked out and Nebraska was back in who had just lost to Colorado the week before. All of that happened in the last day of college football, so to start picking National Championship and conference championship teams before the conference season starts is a little early.
On team leaders after the loss: Yes, we were pleased the whole team came back and worked really hard; it's been a great week of practice. One of the things you really appreciate as you study college football is our teams have played hard each week, and that wasn't the case always when we first got here, and they've done that over a number of years now, and it's something that's hard to get and we want to sure keep it. You may not play well all the time, but sure can play hard all the time. When we first got here, I thought Nebraska played really emotional every week, and I always admired that about their program, and it's something we wanted to get to, and right now our kids are doing that.