The Air Force game was a typical battle. It was nothing out of the norm as far as what's occurred. It was a hard-fought battle down to the wire. I am proud of our players for matching the toughness and discipline of the Air Force players and we were able to come away with the win. If we go to Air Force we want to come out with a win and it doesn't matter how that takes place. Air Force has the utmost respect from our program and I am glad we don't play them for several years.
Moving on to this week, TCU is a big game because it's this week's game. Every week is a big game but it's obvious that this game has conference championship implications. There is still one-third of the season left but this game is a big leg up for whoever wins. Obviously it has national implications as well with two highly-ranked teams. ESPN's College Gameday is coming to town and that's an added excitement for the fans. We are hoping to get about 10,000 fans out there for that. It'd be nice to see all the fans coming out and supporting the Gameday show and come to the game wearing black and camo. It's going to be an exciting week and weekend, but as far as the football team we have to keep our eye on the game and the task at hand. The guys have handled it so far. We've been in big games before so we are ready to take this on.
On worries about the team's response in a close game:
We have had two games that were tight. The Air Force game we didn't have to rally but we had to hold them off at the end, and during the Pitt game we got behind early and had to pull out the overtime win. We believe we have mentally tough players here and will handle the situation well. Last year is on everyone's mind. TCU played a great game and won decisively, but our guys are excited to play them this year.
On this year's TCU team compared to last year:
They are as good or better. Looking at the stats, they are in the top 10 or 15 in the nation in nearly every major category in all three phases of the game. I'd have to say defense is probably their strongest suit. They are ranked No. 1 in what I believe are the three main defensive categories - total defense, scoring defense and third down defense. That speaks volumes about what they are doing defensively.
On Greg Bird:
I am proud of how he played. For our team, he was selected the co-player of the game with Justin Taplin-Ross. They played the safety positions, and Greg came in and made several great hits. Brian Blechen was the MWC Player of the Week, but Justin-Taplin Ross and Greg Bird were our players of the week. All three played well.
We are counting on getting DeVonte Christoper back this week. It's looking good. All of the guys who got banged up during the Air Force game we expect to have back. The ones who were mentioned as out last week are either out or doubtful - Westlee Tonga, Wykie Freeman, Brad Clifford and J.J. Williams.
On preparing the offense:
We've got to move the chains and control the football. We have to open up the entire offense. Against Air Force, our mindset was to keep their offense on the sideline. We knew we could push them around a little bit up front and that was evident. I don't want to say we got conservative but that was our best chance to win. We kept their offense off the field. Jordan Wynn will have the entire offense at his disposal. We have to take care of the football, which we did last week. We also did a great job of getting takeaways. If we can win the turnover margin again, that will be huge in this game.
It is going to be a battle of field position, most likely. That was the case in our first four ball games. Special teams will be big. We both have outstanding return games. We have to make sure we move the chains and give our defense something to work with. We have to be strong in special teams and move the chains.
On what makes the difference in games between evenly matched teams:
Oftentimes it comes down to special teams. Their inability to make field goals was the difference in the ball game last time we played here. Oftentimes when teams are evenly matched a few impact plays can make a difference in a game.
On flying under the radar:
The mindset within our program is the most important thing. Our guys are very well grounded and in a very good position right now. There is still a third of the season left and we have done a great job from week-to-week, not looking past our opponent. This is obviously ratcheted up several notches but we have great senior leadership and I think the players will handle it very well.
On how TCU's speed affected last year's game:
There wasn't much of a difference speed-wise, as it was digging ourselves out of an early hole. We fumbled a kickoff, we threw a pick-six, and our field position was poor. I don't attribute that to a lack of team speed, I think we match up with them, but we just got behind so quick and early that it was really out of hand by midway through the second quarter.
Kyle Whittingham Weekly Press Conference
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