Tuesday, December 26, 2017
TCU Horned Frogs Offense
SONNY CUMBIE: We’re here with our starting quarterback, Kenny Hill, a fifth-year senior from Southlake; John Diarse, outside receiver from Neville, Louisiana; Matt Pryor, senior offensive guard, offensive tackle. I think he would like to be known as a tackle more so than a guard. And Kyle Hicks, our senior running back, No. 21.
It’s been a great week in San Antonio. This is our — obviously we were here two years ago. For me as a player, as I played in this bowl game. I’ve been here as a coach, I think this is the third here, so San Antonio is one of the best cities in the state of Texas. We enjoy our time here. The practice facilities at Incarnate Word are awesome. It’s a short drive over. So that convenience on top of the hospitality that the Alamo Bowl have given our players, and I think that’s the main thing any time you go to a bowl game is how much it’s a reward for your players and how much they’re able to enjoy it together one last time.
This is a really special group that’s done a lot, has had a great season, 10-3, and I think has accomplished a lot together, and so it’s been fun for one more — I guess a couple more weeks for these guys, and just really enjoyed everything that the Alamo Bowl has done for our players.
Coach Cumbie, Stanford’s defense in the third quarter is significantly better than what it shows in the first half. Can you talk about what you’ve seen from them on film and what they’re able to do from half to half to get so much better?
SONNY CUMBIE: You know, just overall defensively, they’re a well-coached unit. They’re very big. They’re physical. And you can tell they’re a group that doesn’t give you anything easy. They’re well-coached. They’re smart, obviously. Being in the right place, and I think that has a lot to do with the experience of their coaching staff with the halftime adjustments they make, and so it’s a big challenge for us, obviously, tomorrow to go out and to try to match their adjustments, as well. I think we’ve been, for the most part of the season, pretty good in third quarters. It will be good to see when we come out from halftime and really the whole game against them.
Kenny, what are the things that you’ve noticed from the Stanford defense so far? Anybody stand out to you in particular in that defense?
KENNY HILL: Really just the entire defense. Like Coach Cumbie said, they play hard. They’re really physical. They just — I mean, they get after you. They’re sound. They don’t get beat — I mean, they make you earn everything, so it’s really just go out there and execute the way we have been, and I mean, just don’t make mistakes because they wait on you to make mistakes, so you have to go out there and play your game and play well.
Kenny and John, I know you guys weren’t here the last time TCU played in this game, but what are some of the tales you’ve heard from guys like Kyle and Coach Cumbie, Coach Luper about the last time they played here?
JOHN DIARSE: Just the experience in itself, and that game being one of the most popular games in TCU history. I was talking to Mark earlier about it, and I was actually on my way home, and I flipped it on and said, TCU is losing, that’s kind of a shocker. And it actually turned into a good game, like a really, really good game. The entire week just Coach Patterson just reminded us to just stay focused on the task at hand and just be sure that we came here for one mission, to come out 1-0 and give the seniors the best season that we can have. But also have fun, man; enjoy San Antonio just like Coach Cumbie said and just take in the experience one last time as a senior.
KENNY HILL: Same thing he was saying. I mean, I’ve been saying especially with the seniors, Coach P talks a lot like two years ago when they were here at halftime, he was just saying, how do you want to be remembered. You’ve got to walk through the hall and you see the score up on the wall. You don’t want to be remembered like that. So it’s really just seniors taking leadership and grabbing a hold of this game and coming out with a win.
Matt, can you talk about playing against Harrison Phillips in this game and what you’ve seen from him on film?
MATT PRYOR: Obviously that he’s a really physical player. He causes a lot of disruption on the line. But I feel as an offense, if we come out there and battle them with our physicality and our tempo and overall just execute our plays, we’ll have a really good game.
Kyle, what’s this game going to say about how you are remembered, like Kenny was saying, the way this season, this team is remembered?
KYLE HICKS: How does this game say like how we’re remembered? I don’t know. Hopefully we’re remembered as Alamo Bowl champs 2017. But really looking forward to this game. Stanford is a great opponent, and we know they’re going to come out and give us their all, and we’re going to do the same, as well, just go out there, execute our plays and just make simple, routine plays and hopefully win the championship.
Coach Luper, can you talk about the different ways that you guys use KaVontae? I think he’s scored in every single way that you can score this year. Can you talk about his development and how you guys use him?
CURTIS LUPER: Well, first of all, he’s a very smart football player, so we move him around — in order to move him around, he has to be really smart and have a good football IQ, which he does, but we’ve tried to keep the defenses guessing, so you’ll see him everywhere. You’ll see him in the backfield, you’ll see him inside receiver, outside receiver. We may even snap it to him a few times.
Coach Luper, can you talk about Kyle Hicks and his development since he’s stepped on campus?
CURTIS LUPER: Well, I think we’ve been here five years together, so I’ve seen it all from him. He battled a knee injury early. He had a knee injury his senior year, so he battled that his first year here. But his very first year he was a 3rd down running back for us, which is really hard to do because most guys in the evolution of a running back, the pass protection is something that they learn last because they’re more excited about carrying the football, but he was able to do that for B.J. Catalon and for Aaron Green early on, and he’s evolved into a complete football player. Just last year when he was healthy, he led our team in both rushing and receiving, so I expect him to go out with a bang this Thursday.
Kenny, how eager have you guys been to get back on the field since the Big 12 Championship game?
KENNY HILL: Yeah, you know, that game leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I mean, lucky for us, we’ve got one more. That’s the best way to get rid of it. You come out and play again, play well. We’re looking forward to it. We’ve been talking about it this whole time. We’re here, we need to go win this. So it’s just — I mean, just comes down to playing well, playing the way we can, and executing the way we can, and come out with a W because I’m not trying to go out my senior year with a loss.
Coach Cumbie, can you talk about the evolution of your screen game and the way you guys use it both inside and out and kind of what you need to Kenny to make stuff like that work?
SONNY CUMBIE: Yeah, first with Kenny in terms of getting the ball out of his hand quickly, and he’s probably one of the most accurate quarterbacks I’ve ever been around, and particularly with the screen game, he gets it out fast. That’s one of the most important parts of it is the ball placement, and we’ve got a lot of playmakers on our offense, and it’s really just trying to get them the ball in space as fast as we can and let those guys — we have an athletic group up front in terms of our offensive line, and I think you just try to create a bunch of different ways to get your playmakers the ball in space, and so the screen game is probably one of the more easier things for us to do besides just handing them the ball or snapping the ball and getting those guys the ball in space and to let them go to work.
Kenny, can you talk about you have one of the top passer ratings under pressure, so under duress what do you think makes you perform so well?
KENNY HILL: I mean, we practice it a lot. I mean, we do blitz check at the end of every day, so it’s the last thing you see is just blitzes and stuff like that, understanding where blitzes are coming from, watching film, and then just having trust in the receivers and the O-line. I know the O-line will pick up as many as they can. It’s just — they’re going to do their job up front, give you enough time to get it out, and it’s just trusting the receivers to make a play, get off the line, beat their guy. It’s just that trust in everybody.
Coach Cumbie, as you guys improved from six wins a year ago to 10 this year and potentially an 11th, how much of that fell on Kenny and the way he improved for you?
SONNY CUMBIE: You know, I think with any team, everybody — you evaluate yourself as coaches, as players individually after you come off a season like we had, and you look at how can we be better and where did we fall short, why did we fall short in those areas, and how can we coach things better, how can we teach things better, and I think the players were really challenged themselves. We have a lot of highly motivated kids. In particular on offense, we have a lot of seniors that are very highly motivated. They have to take a lot of pride in their performance, and they knew that they were a really good football team, and for whatever reason we came up on the short end last year, and we didn’t like to, and I think all the guys sitting up here with me and the guys back in the hotel that really took it upon themselves to — how can I make myself a better player, which ultimately will make this offense better and will make the team better, and I think you see that with all the guys on this table and the rest of our seniors.
Kenny playing quarterback in this offense is — it gets a lot of — you get — we talk about it all the time, you get more credit than you deserve and more blame than you deserve when things are going well and vice versa, but he’s done a great job. Definitely different demeanor in the standpoint of his approach, how he’s prepared, and I think the results — you’re excited to see the success that he’s had and all these guys just because of the work they put into it, and they’re good players.
Matt, can you talk about you started in California, made the decision to come to Texas, you’re putting on the pads for the last time. Talk about how the season has been so well and you’re getting accolades. Have you reflected at all?
MATT PRYOR: You know, I feel like at the end of it, this is a blessing. Coming out of California, I wasn’t even supposed it make it to a D-1, let alone I didn’t think I would. I was supposed to go to a JuCo, and going that route I never knew how it was going to turn out. But coming up to the senior year, I want to end it with a win, obviously, but I feel like my achievements have been good thanks to my coaching staff and everything and all the bonds I made with my family on the team, yeah.
John, two of your nationally recognized plays were the catch in the Liberty Bowl last year and the Big 12 Championship. Do you have anything in score for Thursday night?
JOHN DIARSE: Man, you can never plan those things. It’s just one of those things that just happened. But I do work consistently just on doing better. Just like Coach Cumbie said, finding different ways to be better, finding different ways that I can make a play when it’s my turn, and just trusting the O-line and Kenny and Kyle and everybody else to do their part, as well. All I’ve got to do is just deliver.