Sept. 25, 2012
Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin.
On why he has an upbeat personality: I guess it beats the alternative. No, I think what we're doing, I think it's important for our players, important for us as coaches, important for what we're doing, to have that mindset. It kind of goes back to just, like our quarterback position, it's always about the next play. Things aren't going to be perfect. That's not how football is. But there is always the next play. So if your mind's right for that, you need to hit about five or six in a game, need to go for touchdowns, you're going to have about 80 opportunities to do that. If your mind is not right, you don't put yourself in that position. Make the corrections and move on. Learn from it, move on. If it's not good, throw it out. If it's correctable, make it work. Look for the positives in what you're doing. The one thing, our players are going to go out there and they're going to play hard, try to do their best. The other team is doing the same thing. Somebody is going to win or lose on a particular play. Sometimes it's an individual battle, sometimes it's a schematic flaw in what you're doing. You have to look at it from that standpoint. It's not Chicken Little. The sky is not falling. Let's get ourselves prepared in the next play with our minds right. It might be the play that scores and everything is good. That's kind of the mindset we want to have, what we're trying to do. It takes five or six of those plays, you get in the end zone, you're doing pretty good.
On guarding against overconfidence: We talked about that as a team. I think there's a mindset regardless of how do you handle adversity, success, business. Your mentality doesn't change regardless. That's hard to do. It's human nature to get excited when you're up, and it's the same way when you get down, to kind of get down on yourself. I think the one thing we try to preach to our players is just handle your business the same way whether we're up or down. We're going to operate until the clock is zero-zero. It's easier said than done, but it's something we emphasize and talk about. We talk about being humble, hungry, poised and paranoid. Those are things we have to do from the offensive standpoint because if you decide to let up a little bit, that's when you get hit in the mouth. You have to make sure that everybody is doing exactly what we talked about at the beginning of the year.
On the running backs: As far as the backs go, Joe [Bergeron], Malcolm [Brwon], both those guys have been playing very well. Johnathan [Gray] has continued to get more and more reps in games, more opportunities. He's progressing where we want him to. I think we're getting him the reps that he needs to keep progressing. So it's something where he feels more comfortable now. We feel more comfortable now. Joe and Malcolm continue to play well and excel their game. D.J. Monroe is a guy that has had the ball in his hands. [WR] Marquise Goodwin. We've had different ways to get the football in their hands, just not in the pass game. All those guys understand it's a matter of time. Each game is different. One guy could have more touches than the other. It's how the game plan works out. They all understand the opportunities are going to be there. It's just a matter of when it gets called, and if the quarterback doesn't change [the play] or decides to come to me, I have to be ready for it.
On getting WR/RB D.J. Monroe more touches:
It goes for everybody. You sit there, as you put up the schemes, you look at it and then you go, “These schemes are what we feel comfortable with, now who?” Sometimes 'who' is more important than 'what'. You have to debate that a little bit. We want to get the ball in everybody's hands. There's guys out there that deserve and want it. We also have to look at what are they going to try to do to stop certain players, who can we get the ball to to help the other guy out. That's the whole theme for us. If we hand the ball off, it's going to open up the wide receivers. If we're throwing the ball down the field, it's going to make the run game better. D.J. is a guy that has shown what he can do in the red zone. He's run with determination. He's shown that's his are. He really wants to have the ball in his hands. Everybody does. He's been productive with it. We'll continue to find some wrinkles and ways to utilize him in there each and every week. Just how much depends on the opponent and what they're giving us.
On the game at Ole Miss showing the offense has progressed: You like to have an opportunity where you go out there and things are going your way. You feel like everybody's doing their job. The guys have the ball in their hands, they're productive with it. Quarterbacks are making good decisions. Wide receivers are going up and making plays. To me that was all 11 guys, for the most part, putting it together on quite a few plays in that game is what it was. I think that's something that every offense would say they're capable of doing when they go out and execute like that. I think what that shows is what we talked about, what they already know. When we go out there, everybody does their job, executes at a high level, those opportunities to put points up like that, have big chunk plays, explosive runs, whatever it is, are going to be there. That becomes a motivating factor. It puts it on film, “Here is what we've been talking abou. We have to still go out and do these things, but this is what we can do if we're firing on all cylinders.”
On consistency: Yeah, I hope so. I hope so. That's something that you hope we're executing like that, we're able to call plays like that in games, hit some of those plays. I thought the guys operated in and out of the huddle, personnel groups, things like that that we were utilizing. It was a good overall game that told me that we prepared very well, that the players prepared very well for that game, and their minds were right. When they had their opportunity, guys made plays. To me, we talk about our preparation habits. Whatever you guys did for that game, you did really well. How do we get better at that? How do we get better at preparing for this next game? I think the guys understand that. They know, I need to watch more of this, study this more, and they're going to do that. When you do that, it's like anything. If you're going to do a speech, if you go out there and you're confident, you watched the film, prepared hard in practice, you give yourself an opportunity to play like that.
On opening up the playbook more: Every week's a little bit different. You talk about the playbook. It's always open. It's always open. Like the never-ending story, I guess. There's no end to it, you know what I'm saying? As we continue to grow, you go back and watch your game, you look at it, go, “Wow, maybe there's something off of that.” Then you watch the opponent, you see them do something. Maybe we can have that wrinkle. It all fits what we're doing. That's part of that tweaking. That's part of those packages, getting the right people in the right spots. Who do you want to utilize on a particular play to get the ball in his hands? Those little tweaks, things like that, are going to come week to week. You're still going to maintain your base philosophy, base pass, but you'll have tweaks in there every week. Every year when we start, it always finishes a little bit different. There's always some package of plays that grew throughout the season that you probably didn't expect. But because of players or some type of formation that you utilized, it just became good for you, your guys are good at it, you build on it.
On the number of carries for the running backs: We don't sit down and decide there's going to be 15, 15, 15. There's a flow of the game. Who starts the game, who comes in next, who comes in after that. We talk about that. We want guys to get into a flow. We want Joe and Malcolm to get into a flow. You'd like to have Johnathan get in there, get touches, get himself loose so when he has plays to come in, he's ready to go, a couple pops on them. That comes by feel, play and personnel, as well. It's thought out previous, and it's also thought out as far as the reps go, who is going to start, who is going to come in next. As the flow of the game goes, a guy gets hot, you want the ball in his hands. There's a lot of factors that go into that position, but all three of those guys I feel good about.
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny Diaz.
On OSU’s offense: Yeah, their numbers speak for itself. They're in the top 10 in virtually every offensive category imaginable. I don't know of anybody else in the country that could lose their starting quarterback and have a guy come in and set the record for total offense in school history. There's no great speech needed this week. They have our full attention.
On how OSU’s offense is efficient: First of all, to me it speaks to the coaching. You have to give the coaches some credit, not just in the system that they use but the preparation that goes into it. I think it has to speak to the other 10 guys that are on the field. Their linemen do a good job. Their running backs I think are both good players, combined for over 200 yards against us last year. They open up the passing game and have a group of wide receivers and had a group of guys that made plays for their quarterback down the field. The quarterback is going to be the lightning rod of everybody's attention. There's a lot of guys around him at that school that are helping him to his success.
On the difficulty of preparing for two different quarterback styles: Well, you still have to prepare for what they are going to do and what they are going to do best. We're still early enough in the year with no matter what quarterback played, you still have to have the mindset of stay loose and adjust. If they had no injury, with a bye week, they could come out with some different wrinkles to their offense. What you have to do is you have to teach your defense. We need to get good at what we need to get good at, understand the concepts of our defense, find out who they are, what they want to be. You never know until you get in the game, then go on from there.
On a spread offense that is run so well: This is the day and age in which we live in. They force you to defend 53 yards of width and have a passing game that can get you there. At the same time the most simple thing in football, run the ball in a straight line, which is ultimately what got us last year. They make you defend everywhere. So it's a strain. What they do a nice job of, everybody has to tackle. They do a nice job in some of their blocking schemes to get the ball in the perimeter, make your DBs tackle. That will be a factor in this game.
On OSU having a balanced offense with no stars making preparations more difficult: That's true. I'm sure they would rather have a first-round draft choice in their wide receiving crew. In a way you would still rather not defend a first-round draft choice. I don't think that's going out on a limb. Last year at this meeting we all would have talked about [Justin] Blackmon and [Brandon] Weeden. It just shows you in this game, they have a system that is predicated on taking what the defense gives them. So we will have to be sound regardless of who the people are. They have enough weapons at all the positions to be effective against our defense. So from right down Main Street all the way to the sideline, we have to be good no matter where they at.
On what he will tell the defense this week: We're going to get better at playing defensive football. We have to get better fundamentally, understand our schemes, get better at tackling. Just the things that win you football games. Keep harping turnovers, taking the football away. We're going on the road. We have to understand there's going to be momentum plays just like last week. If we can make our momentum plays, those are the things that can carry you through to victory.
On the state of the defense: We're five days away from going to Stillwater. We're 3-0. That's all we can be. We asked the NCAA if we could be 4-0 because we played well in some of the games we played, and they said no. What I enjoy, coaches enjoy, we have a group of guys that are really hard workers, that really want to do right. We're in the process of improving every week. That's all we can do is improve every week. At the end of the year we sit and look at our body of work, talk about how we did. All we're trying to do right now, whatever we did yesterday, try to be better tomorrow.
On the linebackers: We've been putting different guys in different spots. The best thing as a coach is competition. I think we've got good players in that room. It's easy to say, “Hey, if this guy doesn't do it, the next guy steps in.” I think we've got guys that can do that. Going back to now that we've changed going into conference, it's really hard to win with 11 on defense in this conference, especially up front, because they have the really hard job. As much as I'm concerned about who runs out with the first 11, we have got to make sure, when you look at their points, their snaps per game as well, we'll never last if we just play two linebackers or three linebackers. It's a week where we have to have depth.
On LB Jordan Hicks: Well, I mean, obviously Jordan is a guy that everyone on the football team respects a lot. Jordan is a guy that has more experience than anybody else in our room. I look at the second half of the game in Oxford, other guys filled in. Kendall Thompson, Demarco Cobbs, not having taken a snap at Will linebacker all week in practice, helped us see the game out.
On LB Dalton Santos being one of the guys who’ll get more reps: Well, it's really more just sort of there's kind of a big vat of guys and we're sort of stirring them around, trying to figure out who bubbles to the top. Like I said, all the guys we have listed are two deep at linebacker. What we're trying to do is what any coach is trying to do, put our 11 best football players on the field given the offense we have to defend against. Dalton has done a nice job on special teams and has continued to get better every week.
On giving up 31 points against Ole Miss not affecting the overall defensive plan: The answer is probably both and neither because in one way it doesn't matter anymore. I mean, whatever we did, if we would have shut out Ole Miss, held them to negative 20 yards, here comes a big offense. It's irrelevant now. The film that we created, we have to correct from last week. There's no doubt I thought 38-10, if you offered me that, I would have shaken your hand five minutes into the third quarter. So a lot of good things happened. We ruined some things with some big plays. What you have to do is fight hard to correct those big plays. At the same time that's my point to you. The players see all the good that got us to 38-10, also some not good things on the way to 38-10. No matter what happens, all we do is correct it. The players can stay out of, “Were we good or not good?” We look at all of our plays. We don't have to decide where we're at. All we have to do is win the game. That's the cool thing about this sport, do enough to win the football, correct what we don't like, improve on what we do like.
On tackling: What we showed was, again, everything we try to tell our defense, this goes back to when we assess performance, we don't talk in vague terms that can't be backed up. When you can show a football team that two missed tackles gave a football team a quarter of their offense, wow, that gets my attention. How do we not let that happen? Good, let's move on. If those are two things we can fix, and we can, gosh, how would we have felt about that day if we stacked all those other plays up? That's what the players understood. That's what came out when we got through reviewing last week's film. I think the guys have responded really well this past week in practice.
On practice during the bye week: To me the bye week, it was a week where we could focus on us getting better, focus on your depth like you're mentioning, try to bring more guys along. It's a week where you're not heavy into game planning, scheming. We're trying to maintain our game sharpness. But it allows you to pause. We went back as a defensive staff, reviewed every play of the first three games, start to look at trends, not in game order, but defense called. Where are we getting what we want? Where are we not getting what we want? It was a great sort of self-evaluation. Then you bring that to the field. The players understand it, get it. Then, like I said, work on Texas. If can you work better on being Texas, you can bring everything you need to play in the next week.
On getting sacks against OSU: Well, like I would say, sacks have a lot more to do with the offensive line that's good at blocking. Certainly their line protects well. It's their quarterback play, the passing game. It's the nature of getting the ball out. You won't sack 'em unless you cover 'em. They're sound in all the protections. It's one that the credit is really spread out from their coaching staff down to the other 10 guys that protect the quarterback.