Here are a few highlights from Sunday evening’s media teleconference with Sonny Dykes:
* Dykes’ overall impression of his team’s preparation and performance in its 31-24 win at Northwestern:
“I thought the guys had really prepared well. I thought we had a good camp. The focus over the 10 or 11 days we spent preparing for Northwestern was really good. It was what you want and it got better every day. I thought it showed, particularly early in the game. Guys were really locked in.
“Then we had a little success and quite frankly we might have lost a little of our focus at times. That’s unfortunately what young teams have a tendency to do. We had some opportunities in the second quarter to put the game away offensively and didn’t get it done when we had some good field-position opportunities.
“But the guys never panicked when they (Northwestern) got back in the game. I never got the sense that we lost control. Sometimes you feel that on the sidelines. I never felt that. They were excited after we won the ball game, but I think they realized there is a lot of improvement that needs to be made.”
* On being unable to put away Northwestern after mounting an early, big lead:
“We’ve got to learn how to have a killer instinct when we get a lead on somebody. We don’t have a lot of experience with that.
“For where we are right now, it was a good game. It showed us our potential, but also is we’re not performing at a high level, if we do lose our focus, that we’re not very good when we do that.”
* On playing his five starting offensive linemen the entire game:
“Quite frankly, it’s not ideal. Sometimes what happens early in the season is you’re not quite there with some other guys yet in terms of getting them out there and getting them experience. We’ve just got to force ourselves to do that. Because I think we have enough good players and guys that can help us win. It’s better for your morale. It’s just better when you can have more guys that can play.”
Dykes said center Chris Adcock and tackle Jordan Rigsbee both got a little tired, and vowed that the Bears’ backups would play more, beginning Saturday against Sacramento State.
“I think we’ll do that, hopefully the rest of the season. Hopefully those guys will play well enough where we’ve got confidence in them, and particularly in critical situations.”
* On the apparent lack of much north-south running game?
“There was some east-west stuff by design. That’s kind of an adjustment to the way Northwestern plays defense. Their front seven is their strength and we felt our best matchup was getting the ball on the perimeter.
“We ran it downhill some. We didn’t run it as cleanly as we would have liked to. The thing we did quite a bit was blocked up front pretty good, then the one guy who was unblocked – a safety or a linebacker – made the tackle.
“We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to get our backs to make people miss. It’s just a work in progress. I thought guys made better decisions when they were running the ball. They probably weren’t as dynamic as I’d like for them to be.”
* Dykes confirmed the Bears played 16 freshmen, nine of them true freshmen, in the game. The latter group includes Luke Rubenzer, Tre Watson, Vic Enwere, Noah Westerfield, Devante Downs, Matt Rockett, A.J. Greathouse, Hamilton Anoa’i and Kyle Wells.