The Kansas Jayhawks suffered fourth straight conference defeat this year, losing to fellow bottom-feeder Texas Tech 34-21 on Saturday. Interim coach Clint Bowen, in charge of the team since Charlie Weis was fired on September 29th, remains in search of his first win. But it wasn’t enough for Kansas, which has won just one conference game in its last 34 outings. Bowen spoke about the game at his post-game press conference on Saturday.
Q. Coach, the underneath routes and those things they did out of the slots seemed to really be troubling, especially early on. Something you expected or just they out executed it?
COACH BOWEN: There were a few of them. They were different every time. Some of them, in that case, it’s a tough matchup for us on the inside with the No.11 and No.4 on the inside. They’re quick, and that’s what Texas Tech does. They find some matchups, and they take advantage of them.
You work hard to try and get a plan against it, and sometimes it works. I did have a couple of plays we made against them, but they all weren’t the exact same situation, but it’s a tough matchup with the little peanut inside.
Q. You obviously knew the second half shutout streak for the defense wasn’t going to last forever. Is that it, though? You talked earlier in the week about their challenging offense and all the different looks and all the different things they can do. Was that the reason they were able to get some points on you today?
COACH BOWEN: They did. I’m disappointed we didn’t adjust to a run play that they hit us on a few times. We knew what they were doing, and they kept doing it, and we kept messing it up.
We gave DeAndre Washington quite a few yards. I don’t want to take credit away from the kid. He runs hard and plays nice, but we knew the play they were running, and we didn’t stop it.
Q. What’s the situation with Tony Pierson?
COACH BOWEN: I do not know.
Q. How’s Ben Heeney as a football player?
COACH BOWEN: He’s obviously a special player. 21 tackles, along that line, unbelievable performance. The kid goes out and plays as hard as he can. True leader of our team and really exactly what you’d want to see any football player on any team play like. The guy plays the game with his heart and soul. We’re lucky to have a guy like that.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Tech’s defense and what they were able to do?
COACH BOWEN: It looks like they lined up in their four-man front. They’ve got the two big kids in the middle that obviously plug some things up in there. Stayed over the top for the most part in the deep passing game.
They had the one interception, and on the other occasions, we were able to make plays by staying on top and forcing the underneath rows. Looked like they lined up and played pretty sound.
Q. What do you think your offense did well?
COACH BOWEN: Later on, we obviously hit some passes. I know Nigel had– we were able to connect on the one big pass. The tight end, Jimmay, caught some balls. So we were able to move the ball at times.
Q. The third downs continue to be a struggle, especially third and short. Is that just execution up front that puts you guys in a bad spot there?
COACH BOWEN: I don’t know exactly what the situation was. Obviously, we had two– I think a third and one and a fourth and one that– you know, the percentage is in your favor. Those are situations that you have to win.
Q. How do you recruit going forward for this team?
COACH BOWEN: We just continue to talk about the things that we’re building this team about from the beginning. Dr. Zenger and myself all started, had a plan of what we wanted the rest of the season to look like, and that plan dealt with building a foundation of the way we’re going to play at Kansas. Dr. Zenger and I were in agreement from the very beginning.
Our kids, we’ve talked to them about it. They understand it. We have a plan. We have a blueprint on that foundation, what our team’s going to be. Our kids are on board with it, and we’ll continue to improve.
Q. Obviously, Tech gets credit for that, but each time you cut it to six there, 20-14, 27-21, they hit you back right away. Were you disappointed in the way you responded?
COACH BOWEN: Absolutely. That’s your chance to win a game. You come down from 17-0, you get it to a one-possession game, you’ve got to go out on defense and get a stop. That’s what the game is about. Both times Tech goes down and scores a touchdown and ball game. You got to go out on defense when you’ve got the momentum and get one stop, get the offense back on the field, and see if you can flip the score.
Q. What did you think of Michael today? You said all along, ever since he took this thing over, that you have to take shots down the field. He did hit some. He threw into double coverage a couple of times too. Is that something he’s just going to keep learning as he goes?
COACH BOWEN: I hope so. From what I saw out there, which is not a ton all the time. You know, I kind of catch the situations. But only thing I’m always happy about Mike, the guy competes. He plays hard. You can tell he’s out there giving it everything he has. He leads that offense. He has a presence about himself that other guys can rally around.
Q. Getting back to Tony real quick too, did he let you guys know that something was wrong, or did somebody recognize it?
COACH BOWEN: I honestly have no idea what happened to him.
Q. You might have addressed this, but what did you think about your start and maybe what you guys wanted to do in the first quarter, the way you guys performed early?
COACH BOWEN: Oh, not very good. They take the opening possession down and score three on a missed tackle, big play to Grant.
We expected that they were going to come out with some energy and some tempo with a few things we probably hadn’t seen, and we knew we were going to have to match it early, and that was one of the emphases of the game, find out what they’re going to do early, find out how we’re going to have to adjust to it, and we weren’t able to stop that first drive, which we really wanted to keep the field position going.
I think it was 10-0 at the end of the first, I believe. We did kind of battle back and settle down a little.
Q. Glad you have the bye week coming up?
COACH BOWEN: Yeah, it allows us to do a lot of things that I think are important for this team. We need to focus on improvement in all areas– offense, defense, special teams, everything. It will be a good fundamental improvement week.