The following is a transcript of Baylor coach Art Briles’ weekly press conference leading up to Saturday night’s 7:20 kick in Ames. The above video and transcript are courtesy of Baylor athletics.
"Good afternoon. Back in the game. Last week was a little bit different being off and it came at certainly a great time for us as coaches and our football team. We had the three games in 13 days and we went 19 days straight with our players and coaches, so we needed to breathe for a day. We got part of last Saturday off. We got in about 4 a.m. from Buffalo and then gave them Sunday off and then kind of cruised through the week and here we are, ready to go to Ames."
On Iowa State being different from other teams Baylor has played:
"Well, they’re certainly different in that they’re a conference opponent and it’s a step up. Anytime you get into conference, particularly the Big 12-you know, I think we have 10 quality football teams, without question, and they’re certainly one of them. They’re an extremely well coached team. As they are with their record right now, they could very easily be 3-0. They’re just always a really good football team that plays extremely hard and that really plays with a lot of confidence and a lot of purpose. So we have a tremendous amount of respect for their staff, Coach Rhoads and his staff, and their football team and their program."
On Iowa State’s tough atmosphere and environment:
"I think anywhere you go in the Big 12, it’s a tough place to play, without question. I don’t know one that’s not. I haven’t seen one. So it makes you have to be a little more focused with everything you do, on and off the football field, and when you get to the field, you have to really dial in to every snap because if it’s 1st and 15, and you get 13, it would have been a first down and it’s not. So you just can’t have anything that keeps you from extending the drive and you can’t help the opponent in any way in those circumstances. So it’s a great learning opportunity, but at the same time, you want to learn lessons while you win-and that’s our whole focus and our whole goal. I think Buffalo helped us a little bit. They did a good job with the stadium and having a blackout and having some excitement in the building. It won’t be anything like Ames, of course, just like it wouldn’t be anything like if they were coming to McLane Stadium because we have a great home game atmosphere as well. So it’s what makes it challenging and at the same time, inspiring."
On the open date helping to get injured players back and their status:
"We hope. No earth shattering news. Antwan and Corey are still trying to work their way back in and Clay is getting an x-ray today. Levi, we don’t feel like will be ready to go. Devin Chafin, if I were guessing percentages, I’d say 75. If he can be 90 percent by the end of the week, he’ll be okay. Antwan and Corey are probably in the mid 80s. But it’s Monday and Saturday is a long way off. They’ve gotten a lot better during the last four or five days."
On the changing receiver rotation:
"Yeah, it changes. Those guys are good football players. They have a good chance to get on the field and make plays for us. We’ve got good football players. We’ve never said these are our 11 starters. We’ve never said that. It depends on what the formation is, what the situation is, everything that’s going on in the football game in terms of who’s on the field. So we’ve got 18, 19 starters and everybody gets opportunities. When you get `em, you take advantage of `em."
On Jay Lee:
"Jay Lee is a guy that we’ve always had a lot of belief in. He just didn’t always believe in himself to the level that he can perform at. With maturity and with production, that becomes reality. So what you’re seeing now is a guy that’s living up to his potential. He’s not there yet because he can still do more. But he kind of started coming on at the end of last season and had a decent bowl game, so we really stretched through the spring and he stretched through the spring about playing up to his physical ability. To me, that’s the greatest confidence you can have as a player-if you live up to what your ability is. Everybody is different and you have to live up to what you’re given. He’s starting to do that. He’s not there yet, but he’s better. I have a lot of trust and belief in Jay Lee. I think he’s a great football player, but he’s still got a long way to go."
On Chris Callahan’s slow kicking start and whether he can "work out his issues":
"Well, I hope so. I don’t even know what his stats are, maybe 1 of 4…1 of 4 where his attempt got past the line of scrimmage. And one of those was a 52 yarder, which is a little out there, but you’d like to think you’ve got a 50/50 shot with the wind at your back with a 52 yarder. And two of them were 35 right down they alley that were not made. So it’s something that we have to get better at and there are no excuses. That’s just part of it. So hopefully, he’ll have the opportunity to help us win a football game and people forget if you produce. So we’re looking for production."
On getting one road game in before these conference road games:
"It was critical. As bad as you want to go on the road, in my opinion, we should never go on the road with what we’ve got sitting over there (McLane Stadium). But my opinion doesn’t count and that’s just the way it is. So we had a road game and the bright side of it is that it did help us prepare. I’m glad we had a week off in between because of the length of the trip up to Buffalo, but it did give us a chance to travel as a team, get settled as a team, and understand what we’re going to be going through this weekend when we go to Ames."
On LaQuan McGowan lining up in the offensive backfield on one of the goal line series and whether we will see that again:
"Well, we could have. He’s another guy that’s hurt. He actually got hurt on that play. He had a high ankle sprain and has not participated since then. I think he went in for an extra point field goal and just kind of made it through. We planned on playing him a lot. He had his best week of practice the week prior to the Buffalo game, so he was in the rotation to play some offensively. But that happened in the first drive and he never got to play, and he hasn’t practiced since then. But he brings something different to the table that we’d like to expand on as the season progresses, which you know, doesn’t exist past this Saturday. Hopefully he might could get in there and play some situationally this Saturday, but he has not practiced since the Buffalo game."
On Iowa State’s Jarvis West and what makes him such a dynamic playmaker:
"He’s just played a bunch. He actually hurt us up there 2 years ago in 2012. And he takes a punt 82 yards against Kansas State and all of the sudden, it flips the ballgame and Kansas State actually had to come back from 28-13 to win the game. So he’s a dangerous guy. He’s a great athlete, a four-year starter. The running back is a four-year guy, played off and on for over three years. So they’ve got some guys that have played, and have played and beaten us. So they’ve got quality people and we’ve got to make sure we do our job on both sides of the ball and special teams and not give them a chance to get loose."
On Bryce Petty getting a little rest with the open date:
"He was 100 percent and he wouldn’t have played if he hadn’t been. There was no risk of further injury. In his case, as good as he was that game, I thought it was the best half that I’ve seen him play, without question, because of some of the things he did mentally on the field, what he saw on the field. Really impressed. It might have been good if we could have kept going and kept rolling and stayed hot, but I think that without question, the week off let us all probably settle down a little bit because we’ve got a big push ahead starting this Saturday. But he’s ready to go-very determined young man."
On how Petty is challenging himself this season:
"There are so many ways. That’s what I love about the guy. If he’s got a sock on crooked, he corrects it. Everything is perfect and he wants to be great at everything he does. And that’s what you’ve got to have there. That’s what gives us a chance to win every game we play. We’ve got a stud at QB. People that have studs at QB have really good football teams, and we’ve got, in my opinion, the best guy in America."
On what percentage the offense is playing at now:
"I hope 100 percent. That’s what we shoot for. And we’ll see. We know the competition is going to be tougher as we go along, so we’re not putting a whole lot of stock in numbers. We never have. Our biggest thing is to win by one point, regardless of the score. But I do think that we’re having a chance to improve offensively from the simple fact that our running backs are getting better. I’ve seen really good improvement out of Johnny Jefferson particularly, and I think Shock (Linwood) is coming into himself. He was a little banged up at Buffalo and the off week really helped him."
On Baylor’s defense not allowing teams to get first downs:
"That’s the critical thing for us as a football team, to help each other on both sides of the ball. That was why I feel like we were able to win the Big 12 last year-we led the nation in three and outs-because that means the defense is getting their offense off the field and our offense is getting the ball. So that gives us a chance to put points on the board and separate from the opponent. But we felt like the defense would be good going in, and I think they’ve done a tremendous job. I think we have something out there. I certainly don’t think we’ve peaked, which is encouraging on both sides of the ball. We’re going to get better from what we were and what we are. We’ve just got to do it this week. But up to this point, I think those guys are playing cohesively. I think they understand situations. And I think the staff and Coach Bennett’s staff have done a tremendous job of getting people in positions to make plays for us."
On the wide receiver group as a whole and how they stack up against similar groups across the country:
"In all honesty, I’m going to be certainly very biased. If you want a person with a biased answer, you’re looking at one because I think all our guys are the best, obviously, or they wouldn’t be here. So that’s a simple answer for me. I think we’ve got the best guys in America."
On the freshmen receivers being exceptions or whether guys in general are coming out better prepared:
"I don’t think they’re exceptions at all. I think guys are very prepared coming out. I think positions allow a better chance to get on the field early. Running back is one where you can get on the field early, receiver is one where you can get on the field early. Some of the others are a little bit tougher by positions. So that’s probably the top two, quite honestly, on either side of the ball, where you have an opportunity to play early. But I do think guys are very prepared coming out. I think when you’re talking about people like you mentioned, you’re looking at elite athletes, people that have done things in the past that have them ready. I don’t think anybody can come up and play that hadn’t been dominant at the high school level. Our guys that we have playing were very dominant. I think it depends on the individual and their talent level, but I also think it’s position."
On whether Baylor needs style points in addition to just winning:
"I think that’s a great question. I think it’s a legitimate question, quite honestly. But I still think, at the end of the day, it’s still about Ws and Ls. I don’t think there is such thing as a good loss or a bad win. I think you either win or you don’t win. And I think when they throw it all out there and they’ve got 14 teams that they’re looking at and they’ve got three that are 12-0 and they’ve got two that are 11-1, I think those three 12-0s are in. If they’re from the right-you hate to say power five conference, but I think that’s reality and I think that’s what we’re dealing with. But I think at the end of the day, if you win, you’ve got a chance to get in. Right now, we’re just trying to win at Ames, Iowa. All that is way down the road and will be decided by somebody besides us. But we’ve got to do our job on the field, which is starting this Saturday in Ames."