His quarterback, coming off a second straight good game, looks like he’s on the rise. His field goal kicker, maligned all season and having nearly half of his missed kicks (five) coming by blocks (two), ended up winning Big 12 special teams player of the week honors. And his young team just won a nailbiter at home by scoring in the game’s final seconds.
So yeah, Charlie Strong had reason to be in a good mood today.
Strong’s weekly press conference centered mostly on Tyrone Swoopes‘ continued development, the defense’s tough outing Saturday night, and, of course, the road trip to Kansas State.
Rose honored: Kicker Nick Rose, who was 2 for 2 on field goals against Iowa State, was named the Big 12’s special teams player of the week this morning. His first kick was a career-long 45-yarder and his second kick won the game.
Harrison is … still out: Strong said he had no update on suspended offensive tackle Desmond Harrison‘s status.
Hall’s injury: Injured safety Jason Hall is day to day. “Whenever he’s ready, we’ll get him back out there,” Strong said.
On Swoopes’ …
… building confidence: “He made the turn. The Oklahoma game is when that confidence really started building. When you hear guys on the sideline say let’s get a stop here so we can see … Tyrone and our offense can go score, then you know they have confidence in him. It’s not only making the throws. He’s getting the right plays. Even with the way we’ve restructured the offensive line, he may take a shot, but he’s releasing the ball.”
… running plays, moving forward: “You saw one in the Oklahoma game where he saw the chance to go north and south and he dropped his pads. He’s a physical presence. If he takes off in an open field, he can make a lot of guys miss.”
“The (running) plays were there (in past games), but we really just started focusing on him,” Strong added later. “It takes the pressure off him, to just sit back there and release the ball. If you’re not a threat as a runner, they can play coverage the whole time. Now they have to put an extra guy in the box for the run. Now you have a chance to win outside, like we did the other night. … The more he started developing, the more we gave him. It was there for him.”
… past prospects of ever changing positions: “I think everybody thought that out of the spring game. All you guys were thinking that. Everything is about confidence. If a player’s not playing very well, you say hey, where else can he play? But the quarterback position is a very touchy position. That second game (BYU) was just embarrassing for us, but he bounced back against UCLA and has just kept continuing to do it.”
Strong said Swoopes is still “a work in progress.”
Swoopes’ first three games (a loss to BYU, a loss to UCLA and a win over Kansas): 63-99-590, 5/1.
Swoopes’ last three games (a loss to Baylor, a loss to Oklahoma and a win over Iowa State): 67-114-799, 3/4.
On Bill Snyder: “I’ve always had tremendous respect for him. When I took over at Louisville, I called him and said this is the type of program I’d like to run. There’s nothing fancy about what they do. They just line up, (they’re) a very disciplined team. They don’t turn the ball over. It’s a team that plays withing themselves.”
Later, Strong was asked about what advice Snyder gave him back then.
“Snyder said you just have to be yourself. You always can take ideas and share ideas, but at the end of the day, you’re going to run your program.”
On why Camrhon Hughes started at right tackle: “He had a really good week of practice, so what it said about the offensive line is you give guys the opportunity, if they practice well. We said give C-Hughes a chance, to see what he can do. And he played very well. I looked at him before the game and said, ‘You ready?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I’m ready to go!’ and I said ‘We all say we’re ready go go. Are you really ready?’ I told him that you have to have a short memory. I told him just don’t let Tyrone get hit.”
Swoopes, on 36 dropbacks, was sacked only once.
On whether a 48-45 win was actually better than a 48-10 would’ve been: “No, I would’ve loved to have won 48-10,” he said, to laughter. “But we just kept playing. Offensively we were making plays, defensively we just needed to make a stop and get them off the field. It was good that we did go win a close one. We’ve been in some close ones. Even in the locker room, you could just tell they were so happy. So close and so close, and then you go over the hump.”
On John Harris: “John is having an unbelievable season. The thing you really love about him is you can coach him any way you like. You can press him and he’ll respond. A lot of times, you’ve got to be careful about how you talk to those wide receivers. But when he fumbled the ball, he came to the sideline and said, ‘Coach, I’ll get it back. I’ll make up for it.’ Just to see how hard he responds and how hard he’s playing, it’s fun to watch him.”
Harris posted career highs for catches (9), yards (147) and longest reception (45) Saturday night against the Cyclones. He has six touchdowns in Texas’ first seven games.
Texas (3-4 overall, 2-2 in the Big 12) and No. 11 Kansas State (5-1, 3-0) kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. It’ll be on ESPN.
K-State leads the overall series, 8-6, and has won five of the last six vs. Texas.