Gary Barnett: Looking back at the CSU game, a couple of things really stood out for us. One was the play of our special teams. Of course, Mason Crosby's field goals, but also Greg Pace's snaps, Nick Holz's holds and John Torp in the punting game was outstanding.
Stephone Robinson's return on that squib kick – the play of our special teams was outstanding. We had a blocked punt, we had just about everything. We had a big play in every phase of the special teams.
With the two kickers we have, I hope that's something we can come to expect.
I thought our secondary played really well. J.J. Billingsley was our player of the game in the secondary, but there were two or three other guys who could've qualified for that as well. What a big difference it was from a year ago to this year. The difference was in our secondary and the way we were able to pick off some balls and not give up the kind of yardage we did (in 2004).
I thought our own sloppiness kept us from being more efficient on offense. We had a number of holds, a number of penalties. We've just got to get better at that. Part of it was lack of scrimmage, lack of having officials to hold guys accountable for that kind of thing so they realize those things can affect what's going on.
Same thing in the punt return; we had a blcok in the back that we didn't need. We just needed a better decision.
Brian Daniels is doubtful for this game. We'll have to see how he is but I don't feel very good about his chances.
Other than that, we're not too bad. We're banged up as you'd expect – especially from an opening game where we didn't do a lot of scrimmaging during (August). The first real contact that we've had was Saturday. We're a little banged up, but we'll be all right.
I was really proud of our players. We took CSU's best shot. We were down 21-10 and still found a way to get back. We had great composure on the sidelines. Klatt was an experienced general out there the whole time. He held his composure the whole time, as did our entire offense.
We had a couple young kids stepped up. I thought Patrick Williams' catch there in that final drive was a huge play for a freshman to make. It was a hot throw and not only did he catch it, but he went north and south right away and got us critical yardage that could've made a difference in the game.
Sypniewski's return was huge in that game as well. To have two tight ends that we can use the way we are right now.
And, of course, Hugh Charles was outstanding.
We're just sort of getting ourselves back together and getting ourselves healed up a little bit for a Saturday night game with New Mexico State.
This is a team that tried to throw it 70 times (in opening loss to UTEP). They actually got off 62 and had eight sacks. It's a nightmare for defensive coaches to prepare a package for this. They only rushed the ball 12 times.
Obviously, we'll be playing a lot of nickel and dime defenses, calling on most of our defensive backs to play.
We've got to get a better pass rush out of our defensive line. If there's an area we've got to improve on, it's in the defensive line in our pass rush. We'll probably have to play a lot of guys in there. That's OK. We've got some guys that maybe are better at pass rush than playing the run. Hopefully that'll play into our hands a little bit.
On the other side of the ball we're going to see a defense we don't see anymore. The old 50 defense (more commonly known as 3-4). It causes pass protection issues. Hopefully we can make the adjustment this week. They're a team much like CSU, they're going to give us a lot of pressure. CSU pressured us about 70 percent of the time, and we expect the same thing against New Mexico State.
They struggled in their opening game against UTEP. I think they gave up eight sacks, three picks. It's a completely new system for them. I know until Coach Mumme gets a core of guys who have experience playing his style of ball, it'll be a while before they're really ready.
But we all make our best improvements from the first to the second game, and they're going to have a much better feel for their offense. We're going to make that kind of improvement as well. Both teams should be better than they were last week.
It's a must situation for us. Every game counts exactly the same. I don't think there's any way our guys will overlook them. This is a critical game for us and for where we want to go and where we want to be in our program. I think we learned a valuable lesson last year, especially on the defensive side, playing North Texas. We allowed that running back to have over 220 yards.
I think we've got everybody's attention. Plus, we didn't play well enough (vs. CSU) to feel great about ourselves. We've got a lot of improvement to make. We had a great attitude in practice yesterday and I think we'll have the same thing this week.
We've got to continue to improve on our special teams. I was happy with the pressure we put on the punter. I think we'll continue to be a pressure team.
Q: Is New Mexico State pretty similar to Texas Tech and what they do on offense?
GB: Yes, they're from the same system. Mike Leach actually worked for Hal (at some point). So it's a similar thing that Texas Tech would do.
Q: You don't expect your team to overlook NMSU, but with human nature and coming off an emotional win over a rival…
GB: We can't afford to be human at this point in time. We really can't. You can't do that. That's what the average player would do. We can't be average. If we want at the other end of the bell curve, we can't let that happen, and we won't let that happen. That'll be my job, making sure that we don't.
Q: The 8 o'clock kickoff, what's that going to be like?
GB: The players like it because they get three meals that day. We played a 6 o'clock game last year and they adjusted. They'll get a chance to watch some games in the afternoon. We'll do walk-throughs and those sorts of things during the day. It's one of those things you adjust to. You can't make a big deal about it. It's an 8:10 start, I think. The issue is if you throw the ball 70 times, the game just expands (in length). You've got to figure this game's going to end about midnight.
Q: If teams make the most improvement between Game 1 and 2, what particular area will you improve in most?
GB: For us it's going to be a pass rush, I think. We've got to get more pass rush on the quarterback. And we've got to clean up our sloppiness in the offensive line.
Q: Will Gardner McKay play?
GB: Yeah, Gardner's going to play this week. He'll be a week further along. George Hypolite will play this week; Ben Burney will probably play this week. We'll probably play a number of freshmen. We've got some guys that can run a little bit and we need to get them ready for the long haul. While they might not have been ready for CSU and what it means to be n the field for the first time against a big rival, a week later they're a little more used the atmosphere.
Q: Is Crosby the best kicker you've ever been around?
GB: Yeah, by far.
Q: Most of the time, kickers get teased by teammates. That doesn't happen with Mason Crosby.
GB: No, Mason and John Torp are both regular football players. That's the way they're regarded. They're well respected. Plus, they're consistent. Guys watch John kick in practice, and he just booms it. Everybody stops and watches Mason when he does the 60 yarders. There's just a great deal of respect and admiration for what they can do.
Q: Do you think Crosby will have a great NFL career?
GB: Who knows. I certainly think he's going to get a chance. After that, who can tell. If you add everything up, it looks like it'll go that way. He's a once in a lifetime player.
Q: You said the lack of scrimmage might have helped you in that game. Were you concerned about that going in?
GB: Yeah, you worry about tackling and you worry about penalties and making mistakes that there's no consequence for. In scrimmages, you have consequences. In practice you don't. You line up and go do it again. But in scrimmages, the officials bring the ball back, you're penalized, you try and make it up. That game situation deters or teaches you about being sloppy with your hands and committing those errors.
You just roll the dice and take that chance. I said I'd take that chance over not having some players available (because of injuries suffered in scrimmages) for that game.
Q: What do you do in the next five days to correct the mistakes?
GB: The players learn. They're all well aware. Especially anymore because they announce your name. That's not the way you want your name announced on TV and in the stands. They don't like it either. That in itself is a deterrent and a teacher.
Q: If Brian Daniels can't play, do you go with Daniel Sanders or move Edwin Harrison there?
GB: We'll go with Daniel and play Edwin as well. Gary Moore can play guard. If we have to we can move Mark Fenton to guard and Bryce MacMartin to center. We've got some flexibility. Clint O'Neal played quite a bit at split tackle instead of tight tackle during that game. So we've got two guys like Clint and Gary that have played all those positions, it gives you some flexibility.
Q: How did Gary Moore and Daniel Sanders look Saturday?
GB: Gary played very well. He played probably the best game he's played since he's been here, as did Clint. And Daniel did fine for his first game as a redshirt freshman.
Q: Will you have any scheme changes besides playing more nickel and dime vs. NMSU?
GB: You change some things around. But you spend so much time in coverage and matchups and recognizing routes. What they do is a lot of what we call burst routes, and there's trips where all three guys go in a different direction. You can't man that coverage, you have to zone it up.
So you work on the various looks that you're going to get. There's a lot of scout team work (in practice). Where we normally would go against each other, this week we can't do that because their offense is just so different than ours.
Q: Is this a dangerous type of game.
GB: It's always dangerous when you're going to see it thrown that many times. I worry more about those than I do the others. Especially an offense that's been productive at Texas Tech. I'm not saying they have the same players, but anytime you've got to cover a whole bunch of guys going all over the place, you get concerned.
Q: Do coaches game plan different for your kicking game?
GB: I don't think so. I think the only thing you do is, in the punting game, for example, when we're punting, last year we did a lot of different formations to make sure we had good coverage on the punts because we knew John was going to kick it pretty far. You decide on us whether you're going to try to return it, or rush it. With John's distance, you would probably rather try to return that punt because that's a long way for us to cover. That puts a lot of stress on your coverage.
Our coverage team a year ago was pretty good. We won the net punting title, and we want to win it again.
Q: Did your offensive linemen get tired late in Saturday's game from the heat?
GB: I was really impressed with our conditioning throughout the whole game. Being in black and being in the sun, I thought our conditioning was really good. We had plenty left in the last drive on offense. Defensively, we didn't put any pressure on the quarterback (on CSU's final drive), and as a result we only rushed four. I don't think we ever got tired, we just didn't make any plays in there.
Q: Have you considered moving to the shady side of the stadium?
GB: I have. There's no down side from my point of view. But I think they've made a rule in the Big 12 now where you can't put the opponent in front of the student body. I'm going to check out Kansas State and some other places, because we sit in front of Kansas State's students, we sit in front of Kansas' students, we sit in front of Baylor's students, and somebody else's. We'll see if they abide by the rules.
But I have considered that for two reasons. One is the (first down) chains on our side are just a big pain. They're always away from the press box, so we've always got the chains tripping us. And then to go over there for the shade as well.