Photo By Steven Chapman

Choice Cuts: Arizona State Week

Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko (pictured above) and defensive end Kolin Hill spoke with local media following practice on Tuesday. Senior writer Joe Yeager, who was on-hand, breaks down what was discussed.

KLIFF KINGSBURY

On ASU’s pressure defense: “They do a good job of getting to the quarterback and do a good job of creating negative plays, so he [Pat Mahomes] has got to be smart, he’s got to know when to get rid of the ball, and when to make those special plays that he can make, so I think there will be a fine line for him, but he’s seen some pressure defenses before and I think he’ll be ready.

On creating turnovers against ASU: “Yeah turnovers are gonna be huge. The last couple of years that’s been a big emphasis for us. When you get that plus there then you’ve got a chance, and when you do not then you don’t. So we’re having to work on that hard, try to create some and try to protect it.”

On the ASU offense’s struggles for the first three quarters against Northern Arizona: “I’m not sure. I thought the quarterback was efficient. I think Northern Arizona’s a good team. They’ve traveled around the country and played some 1A teams tough. So it’s just football and I don’t think I can take much from it.”

On the jump in competition level from SFA to ASU: “I don’t know, honestly. Obviously, Arizona State’s a PAC 12 team, but there’s a lot of parity in college football, so we’ve seen teams all over the country winning at the 1AA level this past weekend, so from what I see on film I think they’re a very good team, they’ll compete in the PAC 12, and so we’ll just have to see how tough a step up it is.”

On the play of freshman tackles Terence Steele and Madision Akamnonu against AFA: “They did okay. Got a long way to go. For their first real game had some good plays, had some bad plays, got to work technique and the fundamentals and I thought they got tired, so we’ve gotta get ‘em in shape. “

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On whether the first game is the baseline for improvement: “I hope so. They say your biggest improvement always comes from week one to week two. I hope that is the case.”

On the need to run the ball more against ASU: “I don’t know. When you’ve got a quarterback like we have and can throw it every play and be accurate, protect the football, and that’s what’s working, then that’s what we’ll do. So I’m not one to try to establish the run all game and bang our heads against the wall; we’re not gonna do that. If we can throw the football then we’ll throw it every play.”

On the single thing that most caused the defensive improvement against SFA: “I think to me the defensive line looked like they were very disruptive early. Ondre Pipkins and Kolin Hill, both sat out last season seemed like they were a force early and shut down the run game. If we can do that then we’ll be in good shape.”

On Tony Morales as the Offensive MVP against SFA: “Just his leadership mainly. As a senior he stepped in and this was his first real chance to be a leader on that O-line and this is his sixth year. I thought he handled himself very well. Great snaps. Made a bunch of great calls in protection. So that was exciting to see.”

On Keke Coutee: “He’s good with the ball in his hands. He’s a good route-runner, but he’s not very good at blocking, so that’s something we’ve emphasized with him. He was soft in that game; he knows he was soft. You can’t just run around and catch passes and make plays if you’re not gonna block, so we’re emphasizing that with him.”

Overall Takeaway from Kingsbury's Remarks: Ever since the post-game SFA presser Kingsbury has seemed a bit terse and testy. He has praised the defense, but is clearly unhappy with the play of the offense. Over and over he talks about the offense playing soft, not being physical enough. This "meme" dovetails exactly with Kingsbury's overall goal of trying to build a team that is much tougher, physically and mentally than last year's team. The words "Tech Tougher Together" are emblazoned in huge letters on the front wall of the Spike Dykes Meeting Room, just to show how serious Kingsbury is about toughness. We shall see if the offense heeds Kingsbury's exhortations against ASU, and if doing so makes a difference.

BREIDEN FEHOKO

On the defense’s play against SFA: “As a group I felt we played really well. There’s always room to improve, but as a first game compared to where we were last year in the first year I think there’s a big difference. We’ve started to buy in. Just as a D-line, we’re starting to focus and I feel like we’re coming together day by day. Like I said, there’s a lot more room to go, but I feel like we’re on the right track.”

On where improvement is most needed: “You always want to tap yourself on the back after a win like that, but you kind of want to keep your head straight at the same time because SFA is a good school, but it’s not Arizona State. Going into Tempe this week, they go fast, they’ve got two big running backs. The thing we need to work on is just playing technique, playing fundamental. I mean nothing on the stat sheet really jumps out at you, but when you look at the overall box score the overall stats of run defense, pass defense, as long as we’re doing our job, I’m happy with it. The rest of the defense is happy with it. I think if we can hold ‘em under a hundred every game, I think that’s the goal. Just playing good defense every week, cleaning up the mistakes.”

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On if the defense dominated the line of scrimmage like against SFA any time last season: “I’d have to say Kansas State. Kansas State last year I felt that we did a good job. Going into Kansas State we knew that Coach Snyder loves to pound the ball, pro style sometimes, and the stat sheet may not jump out at you, but if the D-line is working as a whole…I mean if you look at SFA going into halftime I think they were like negative six rushing yards. So as long as everybody’s doing their job and we’re playing great defense, I’m happy. I can’t complain.”

On how playing next to Ondre Pipkins changes things for Breiden: “It helps a lot. When teams run the ball up the middle, you can’t really now. We build the wall in that three technique and that A-gap, teams have to force it outside to bounce. So if me and Pip can force that inside zone to bounce out we’ve got good outside and inside linebackers to chase down and tackle the ball-carrier.”

Takeaways from Fehoko's remarks: He makes a couple of good points. First, this teams seems parsecs ahead of where it was against Sam Houston State last season. Now that does not mean that this year's team will ultimately be better, but you'd much rather start out playing at a high level rather than poorly. Second, the presence of Pipkins alongside Fehoko should work near wonders against opposing ground games this season. And if you can clamp off that component of an offense your chances for defensive success are very good.

KOLIN HILL

On defensive play versus SFA: “I feel like everybody was flying to the ball, having fun out there. It was a team effort. Stopping the run was one of the things we focused on most and I feel like we did a good job.”

On how many snaps he and Zach Barnes played: “I played around 40-something and he probably played the same.”

On if there were any particular substitution patterns: “Nothing in particular, just if one of us was tired he would get substituted.”

On whether or not he was rusty: “It was exciting. I felt like I was knocking some of the dust off, just getting out there and being able to contribute. It felt good doing that. It had been a long time. Felt like I did my job and made some plays, but there’s room for improvement.

On ASU’s offense: “They have a really good player, good skill players and a big offensive line so we’re just gonna have to prepare really hard for them.”


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