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Liberty Bowl Preview: Cumbie, Meacham Talk TCU Offense

TCU’s offensive coordinators, as well as several players, met with the media Tuesday afternoon.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Media availability for the Liberty Bowl began Tuesday afternoon, with members of the TCU offense and coaching staff met with local and national media. Co-Offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, as well as QB Kenny Hill, center Austin Schlottman, running back Kyle Hicks, and wide receiver John Diarse answered questions.

TCU Co-Offensive Coordinator Doug Meacham opening statement:

“Just glad to be here and have an opportunity to play another game, watch your kids develop and have the extra practice time. Just want to try to continue to get better every week and enjoy our time here in Memphis. Just glad to be here.”

TCU Co-Offensive Coordinator Sonny Cumbie opening statement:

“I think we’re just excited to get out on the field again. We did not finish the season very well, particularly on offense, so it’s another chance to put together some practices to try to develop some kids. It’s also a reward for your players. To see the kids earn this bowl bid and to see them have fun this week, go out and have one more chance to have these seniors together as a group, to lead them. The best thing about this bowl experience is to get to see those kids come together one last time away from campus and the bonding that has occurred for some of those kids over four to five years, and to have those experiences for one last week, it’s a lot of fun to see.”

Meacham on what went wrong with TCU’s offense this season:

“If you underline it, you see an abnormal amount of penalties and dropped passes. A couple things contribute to that. We replaced eight starters; we had some youth. We just didn’t play up to our capability at times. We’d have a really good game, then we’d turn around and it would be—you wouldn’t know what you were going to get from week to week at times. We have to do a really good job. That’s part of this bowl prep for us is to get prepared to start growing these guys up, preparing for the future and getting ready for the next season. With some of the losses we had towards the end, you can’t get back on the field quick enough to try to revaluate yourself, get better and look forward.”

Meacham on what went well with TCU’s offense this season:

“The first half of the season, we did fairly well I think. You see some of the output, yardage, we score some points, move the ball, had some confidence. Then as the year went on, we had a few injuries here and there. We played a couple games on the road. West Virginia was kind of a tough game. We won the Kansas game on the road and hit some bumps along the way. We did well at times, I think it was just the inconsistency throughout the course of the entire year and eliminating the mistakes and playing between the chains hurt us a lot, too. There were a lot of times it was second down and 20 yards. There were a lot of dropped balls. Third down conversion, red zone, things like that that we have to improve on and get better at.”

Meacham on Georgia’s defense:

“They’re big, fast and mean. That’s pretty much it. Anytime you play an SEC team, the level of competition they go against, the speed factor and the size of these guys, they’re well coached. Coach (Kirby) Smart does a phenomenal job. It’s going to be a challenge.”

Cumbie on Kenny Hill’s season:

“I think he had some inconsistent play at times and I think that he wasn’t as accurate as he can be. A lot of those things you look for the why. Why was he not as accurate? His footwork is really the main culprit—to get his footwork in the proper place, to have it under control. I thought he played a lot better I think sometimes than he probably gets credit for from the outside. I really feel like he hit a little bit of a lull in the middle of the season. I don’t know if it’s because we were asking him to do too much or just that time of year. I was personally pleased with how he played, how he competed, how he battled. There was a time in the middle of the season where we kind of just had to sit down and talk. We had to get him back to competing and being a kid who is relentless with his effort and the first kid we saw against Arkansas and Oklahoma. We just had to remind him of our belief in him. That’s why we have him here. That’s why we opened our arms to him and wanted him to come here, is because the belief we had in him as a player and also as a person and knowing what kind of kid he is. I’m pleased with it. We have a lot to build off of. I think sometimes I forgot he was just hanging out at home with his parents. We forget that as coaches. It had been a while since he had gotten back on the bike and road it around again. He was a little rusty. I’m looking forward to that going into the spring and really having 13 games worth of evidence on him—this is what he’s good at, this is what he’s not so good at, now let’s go to work and try to build around him in a way that will allow us all as a team to be successful.”

Cumbie on how Kenny Hill handled being taken out of games:

“I’m up top, but just watching his body language and the type of teammate that he was, you couldn’t have asked for it to be any better. A guy that was right there with Foster (Sawyer), high fiving him, encouraging him. That’s the biggest thing you can ask of any player. At the end of the day, what kind of teammate are you? That’s what I challenged those quarterbacks with. It’s the toughest position in football from the standpoint of that one guy plays. When you play receiver, there’s going to be one or two guys that play a position. At quarterback, you all want to play, but only one guys play, but how do the other two of three guys in that room react in terms of body language, in terms of chemistry, in terms of genuinely supporting the guy that’s out there. Fortunately, the last few years we’ve had that and Kenny was no different. I think that he was a really good teammate after being pulled. He understood.”

TCU QB Kenny Hill on his performance this season:

“Very up and down. Just inconsistent, really. I think that was a big problem of our offense in general. There’s a lot to learn from and grow from. We’re just trying to end the year strong right now.”

Hill on sitting out a year before he joined TCU’s football team:

“I judge myself the same way regardless of if I’m out a year. I expect myself to play well. I needed to get back in the speed of things, but I had a full year to do it. I just needed to play better.”

Hill on what a full offseason can do for him:

“I think it will be good, just getting more camaraderie with the team and getting more chemistry—get bigger, faster, stronger.”

Hill on Georgia’s defense:

“They’re tough. They’re big. Their secondary is good, too. It’s going to be a battle. They’re a good defense, and Kirby Smart knows what he’s doing.”

TCU C Austin Schlottmann on Georgia’s defense:

“They have a lot of good athletes. They’re all good players and really good at what they do. We’re just going to have to go out and execute on Friday and do our thing and score some points.”

Schlottmann on if Georgia’s defense is similar to any TCU has faced this season:

“They’re big bodies kind of like most of the defenses we’ve played this year in the Big 12. If we can go out an execute our offense, I think we’ll be good.”

TCU RB Kyle Hicks on what he needs to do to be successful against Georgia:

“Individually, my goal is to just go out there and make plays for my teammates whenever my name is called upon. If I have to do it running the ball, catching he ball or blocking for my team, I just have to go out there and do it to the best of my ability, just leave it out there on the field and have fun while doing it.”

Hicks on sending the seniors out with a win:

“It’s the last time playing with the seniors. Next year, it’s going to be a whole new team. You just want to go out there and send the seniors off the right way. Go out there, get a victory and get a streak started for next year. We just want to go out there and get the win.”

TCU WR John Diarse on TCU’s offense this season:

“It’s been different, a lot of new faces, a lot of spots to fill. Every team has that year every couple years, every three or four years, this just happened to be ours. I think one great thing about this offense is that we stayed together, whether it’s been a 60-point game or a 10-point game, we all stayed together and we all know that each and every week was another opportunity to do better than we did last week. It’s just one of those growing years for us. We’re going to continue to get better and Friday we have another opportunity to just play together as a unit and finish out the right way.”

Georgia had members of their defense speak with the media as well, and here are some of the more relevant quotes from their session:

Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker on having two weeks of practice to prepare for TCU:

“A lot of our young guys got work in while we were back home and we did a lot of two spot work and got a lot of reps. We were able to develop some of our younger players. Once we honed in on the TCU game plan, I think all of our guys have stepped up to the challenge. There is a certain way we want to practice, a certain way we want to prepare, and our guys understand that. They’ve been focused and I’ve seen improvement across the board.”

Tucker on TCU’s Kyle Hicks:

“He can do it all. He’s an excellent runner. He’s targeted quite a bit out of the backfield and can line up as a receiver, so he’s one of those guys that is any every down back that can do everything well. He’s one of the best backs I’ve seen in some time. He’s a guy you have to know where he’s lined up at all times. He’s very, very dangerous. You don’t see many guys like that week in and week out. I think he’s a special player.”

Georgia DE Davin Bellamy on the TCU offense:

“They’re very fast and they score a lot of points. They have a great quarterback. Kenny Hill from Texas A&M came in a set the NCAA on fire the way he did it. They have a lot of explosive players. They have a lot of skill players and they’re very dangerous on offense. We’re definitely going to have to bring our best game against these guys.”

Georgia DB Dominick Sanders on facing TCU’s offense:

“It’s a big challenge when you’ve got a team that’s throwing the ball in the air. The only thing I tell my guys, especially in the back end, is that this a team that’s going to try to air it out. What we have to do is play fundamental ball and our technique has to be excellent. Also, we have to keep our eyes on the ball and do good in coverage and keep our eyes in the right place.”

Sanders on Kenny Hill:

“He can be a threat. We have to stop him. On the front end, we have to have our guys putting as much pressure on him as they can, so it can create turnovers for us. On the back end, we can’t let him do what he does. Receivers wise, we have to clamp down on those guys. Those guys are very quick and fast. They have good, athletic players on their team. The main thing is, if we do what we have to do, they won’t be a problem for us.”

Georgia DB Maurice Smith on TCU:

“They have a lot of athletes so space tackling will be big and containing the quarterback as well.”

Thank you to the Liberty Bowl media team for passing along the transcripts to the press conferences. We will hear from the TCU defense and Georgia offense later this week.