Oct. 3, 2011
Opening Statement: It's good to be 4-0 headed into the OU game. This is a special game, but it's even more special when both teams are undefeated. Guys are working really hard to improve. We still are very inexperienced and have a long way to go, but we feel like we're making tremendous progress. The good things that happened defensively on Saturday night; the good thing was defense kept Iowa State scoreless. Stopped them in the red zone twice. Created two turnovers, an interception and fumble early in the game. We started fast which is something our defense has gotten us off to fast starts the last two weeks with the three interceptions in the first quarter at UCLA, as well. We did not give up an explosive pass, and we stayed in coverage well when [Iowa State QB] Steele Jantz was scrambling around and tried to make some great plays, because he had the good abilities, very elusive and hard to tackle back there. We did a great job on third and fourth downs. They were four for 15 on third downs and one for five on fourth downs and far enough behind that they just kept going for fourth downs in the second half and we were able to play 29 guys at least 12 plays or more on defense. At one time I saw nine freshmen out there, but we were able to try to develop a lot depth because of the young guys that were playing. Things that needed to improve on defense: We did not play the inside zone play very well. They had some explosive runs inside, and that's hurt us in three of our four first games. That's something we have to do a better job of Saturday afternoon. The front didn't get penetration like we wanted. That's one of the reasons that some of those runs were squirting.
We had too many penalties, and most of our penalties were defensive penalties. We only had three penalties against UCLA, and to come back and have ten against Iowa State, and we cannot have that. We did not slowplay the quarterback well on the option. They had not run the option very much, and they hurt us with it, especially in the first half. We adjusted better to it in the second half, and the second defense did give up two touchdowns. So we got on them some. If you want to play, we need to get you in there, but when you go in, you have to stop people and make things happen.
The Hard Hat Award on defense was freshman [LB] Kendall Thompson, very proud of him. Most Valuable Player on defense was [S] Blake Gideon. Offensively, the good things we did, we protected the ball, had no turnovers. And last year at this time we were [ranked] 92 in turnover ratio, and right now we are sitting here at 7, and I think a lot of that is because of the energy and the toughness. When you're running the ball and you're stopping the run, you have a better chance to knock balls loose, to get on the quarterback and to force interceptions. We made big plays with the offense, two of them specifically for touchdowns and we outrushed the opponent.
Concern for the offense, we had too many negative yards. We had minus 42 yards, something that has not been happening. We only ran 64 plays compared to Iowa State's 91, and we would like to be out there more even though the time of possession was very similar. We did not make our third and fourth downs. We were four for 13 on third downs and one of 6 in the red zone which is just unacceptable. We did not dominate the fourth quarter. We lost our focus some and [C] Dominic Espinosa is out because he had a sore foot and moved Trey Hopkins from tackle back to guard, and then put Paden Kelly in at tackle. So we have got a lot of experience to improve our depth, but we did not feel like the offense was sharp in the second half.
We always say you've got to handle adversity but you've also got to deal with success, and I thought that at halftime, our defense kept playing hard. We put the young ones in and had some mistakes and penalties and they were still trying. I thought offensively we were playing hard, but just didn't have the staff that we had in the first half. From this year to last year to see significant differences on offense, we rushed for 135 yards a game at this point last year. Now we are at 206 yards a game. Passing efficiency we were 68 in the country last year and sitting here now at 15. And scoring offense, last year we had averaged 26 points after four games, we are sitting here at over 34 points.
Award for the best offensive lineman was David Snow. He played very well at guard and center. Most Valuable Player on offense, once again was [WR] Jaxon Shipley. We were very proud of Jaxon. He's making plays all over the field with the ball and without the ball.
The good thing is in the kicking game and by and large it was much improved. The punt block, a great punt block by [DB] Mykkele Thompson, picked up by [DB] Josh Turner, both freshmen, who returned it for a touchdown. He had a really good group of defensive guys that were blocking for him as he ran for the touchdown, but I thought that pretty much just sealed the game early and sent a message that we were there to be serious. Kickoff coverage. We had eight kickoffs during the game, and we had two tackles inside the 25yard line - that was by [LB] Tevin Jackson and [DB] Leroy Scott. One kickoff, [DB] Quandre Diggs did a great job of extracting the ball out of the Iowa State returner's hands and Tevin Jackson fell on it. That also led to a touchdowns. Our kicking game led to 14 points during this ballgame.
Punt team on the average, 31.8 yards per punt, but two of those were down inside the 20yard line. So sometimes that takes away from your average. The average starting position for Iowa State was the 24yard line, so that's pretty good. Kickoff returns. We had three returns, one of them would have been really good out past the 40yard line. We had a block in the back which we can't have, that brought it back. Another went off the 30, and one was very poor. But we feel like we are making progress in that area, and Quandre did a good job. Field goal and extra point. We were four for four in extra points, three for four in field goals of 29, 33, and 35 yards. The elite group on special teams, Mykkele Thompson, [DS] Alex Zumberge, Josh Turner, [FB] Jamison Berryhill, Blake Gideon, [S] Kenny Vaccaro, [LB] Jordan Hicks, [S] Christian Scott, [RB] Fozzy Whittaker, [DB] Carrington Byndom, Tevin Jackson, Quandre Diggs and Leroy Scott. So in the kicking game we won field position. We created 14 points and created a fast start. With all of the phases that are getting involved and adding to the ballgame and the win, it obviously makes you have a better team.
Injury update. Christian Scott hurt his wrist early in the game. He'll have an MRI today, but he is out indefinitely. And everyone else is expected to play this weekend.
OU is the No. 1 team in the country. They are No. 5 in pass offense, 377 yards a game. No. 4 in total offense with 550 yards a game.eleventh in scoring offense at 42.5 points per game. Landry Jones is a top Heisman candidate. He's completing 72 percent of his passes and doing a great job running their hightempo offense. They are 40th in total defense, only giving up 348 yards a game. They are 134th, about where we are in scoring, giving up 15 points a game. They are 15th in net punting and 21 in turnover ratio at plus three and they have gained 11 sacks. They are 21 in the country with sacks.They have allowed two sacks the entire season, as much as they are throwing the ball.
So they are a tremendous team. They are really good. It will be a fun challenge for us, but a great challenge for us. Most of the recruits in the two states come to this ballgame. It's a huge game for guys to see. A lot of people have asked yesterday and today what about your young, inexperienced players. Most of them have been at this game because they would come to it as a sophomore, junior, senior. So they know the environment, and one of the reasons they come to Texas or go to OU is to play in this ballgame. It's a national ballgame, obviously. It has national implications. Their 13 in the polls, we are 1110 in the polls, both undefeated. College Game Day thought it was special enough to turn down other games to come to Dallas, Texas for the game, which they do most of the time and it's a unique week, but a real fun week.
We obviously have some new coaches that have not been involved in this game before, and they will enjoy it. They will embrace it. Most of them have been in national games whether it was Alabama or Auburn, Georgia, Florida, on the other side or myself or Coach [Darrel] Royal. I feel like that they will be excited about the challenge. It's a fun week. It is unique for both schools in that it is like a bowl game in midseason and there's difficulties of coaching the week before it and the week after it. But it's a fun week during it.
On offensive diversity: If you go back and study college football in general, we out-rush the opponent, we usually win. I think it's like 1134 or something. So you need to be able to run the football, and you've got do be able to stop the run and then you force turnovers. And then the kicking game happens with field position. But our offense is based on running the ball and throwing the ball deep. And those are the two things that we'll have each week. How we get there is very unique. [Co-offensive coordinators] Bryan [Harsin] and Major [Applewhite] have about four trick plays in their pocket every week that they run every day. The double reverse pass from David Ash to Jaxon Shipley, we did not put in last week. They have been running it every day since we have been working, and it's just something that it helps our defense, because our defense gets to see the quote, “trick play”, each week. But they run it enough against our defense to see if they are going to work, and they keep four or five of those in their pocket and it makes it fun for the players. So they all walk in on Monday saying, “What can we do this week, Coach? Which one are we going to use?” And obviously so far, thank goodness all of them have worked.
On players being comfortable running trick plays: Yes, and I think that the trick to being good at those type of plays is making them part of your offense. When you stick a play in on Monday and you run it twice, you're not sure of all of the things that may happen. When you run it every day, you've seen every possible scenario that can could happen against your defense. So then they say, “Well, we have got to tweak this a little bit because that guy came off the corner and that time he got us for the corner blitz.” So they are pretty basic plays for these guys. Even if you look at the multiplicity of this offense, Fozzy scored on a countersweep on a “wild” against UCLA. It was the same play to [RB] Malcolm Brown with a speed sweep underneath it to start the Iowa State game out of the “I”. It just looks different. They have got a lot of different looks with very similar plays.
On what he would like to see from the team this week: There will be more adversity in this game. I want to see them handle the hype through the week, and I want to see them handle the adversity during the game, and usually in football, it's very much like life. You have some adversity and you have some very positive things. So what I said to them before the Iowa State game, I think really happened is you've got to be able to deal with the adversity, because you're going to have a it in a game like this, because OU is really good. But positive things are going to happen, too, because you're going to make plays, and if you get up by ten points in a game like this, the game is not over. You have to keep playing. And that's what the players have to understand. Deal with adversity and handle success. We have a little saying that anything that happens, really positive or really negative in an early part of the game like this is an imposter, because don't worry about it. It's a long game and don't let a negative play get you down too much and don't feel too good about positives. Just keep playing, have fun, enjoying it. Very few guys get to coach in this game. I've been fortunate to coach on both sides of it. Very few players get to play in this game. So it's kind of like the Rose Bowl. It's a really, really special game to play in for everybody. I want them to enjoy this moment. I think it's really special. Somebody said it might rain, so I don't think either team has been used to a wet ball. So we'll have to get a bucket of water to stick the ball in this week if it rains.
On dealing with adversity: They had a lot of adversity at Brigham Young, and I thought that was really good for us and they handled that adversity and came back and won. I think that's something that we can go back and earmark and they have got great respect for OU. So they will be worried about the Iowa State game because it's before this one. And this, in their mind is a game they are more aware of than Iowa State. I would have been concerned some about handling adversity and not being as sharp more in this game. I think also in this game, this is one that they just look forward to. And again, all of our players have begun here. They have been in this environment. They have seen this game. They have seen the 50/50 with the fans and the fanfare. So I think they will embrace this [and] enjoy the week.
On the quarterbacks’ first OU game: You go back and look at the games, they could have been easily won and lost, with the kicking game and turnovers. I think in this game - looking at the one at OU - the 13 I've had here is that the team that protects the ball usually has the best chance to win. You have to make your big plays. A lot of times in this game, kids try too hard or try to make something happen that's not there and it tends up hurting them. I think you just have to play.
On the Oklahoma offense: [ RB Dominique Whaley]’s really good. He's a tough guy. He's making a lot of yards, protecting the football. He's gaining 95 yards a game, nearly a hundred yards a game and they are throwing the ball so well. [WR Kenny] Stills and [WR Ryan] Broyles are just unbelievable. Last year they caught us standing in the first quarter looking at our wristbands with a fast tempo offense and scored twice while we were standing there, and then we had three penalties that extended drives for touchdowns. So you cannot have the penalties. You have to force some turnovers and you have to handle the uptempo offense better than we did last year. We did a better job in the second half after we got settled down. We do think it was good that Iowa State was an uptempo offense. They ran 91 plays, so we got a pretty good look at a hightempo offense last week. They are not as talented and proficient at it as OU obviously yet, but we also feel like that we at least got some work in that area.
On his assessment of the team to this point: The season's long. I think this is a great measuring stick for us because people would have been surprised at the first of the season, if we had said we'd be 40. That's not something they would have thought. We have two Top5 teams in the next two weeks that will be really demanding for us, and it will also show us where we are on the national scene and our team is ready for that right now. Our out of conference schedule was perfect for us, to play Rice a little bit and came from behind to beat Brigham Young and the great game on the road at UCLA. And then to have a conference game with Iowa State at night, second largest crowd ever, an undefeated team. I think all of those things have helped us prepare for Saturday. Now we did get back at three in the morning, so I don't know that that helped us prepare for Saturday. Thank goodness the players are younger than the coaches so they will bounce back faster than me.
On how the young players will handle the atmosphere: I think they will like it. Most of these players know each other, too. That's the fun part of this game. The players have great respect for each other. Lord, they talk during the week and they pick at each other and it's just that way. I asked Colt McCoy one time, "How are you handling this quarterback thing in Texas?" And he said, “I've been preparing to be the quarterback at Texas my whole life. That's what I wanted to do." I said, "What about the OU game?" He said, "Coach, I watched every OU game since I was watching football. And this is a dream for me to play in this game." And of course, he handled it very well. So I think the guys will like it, and they will be excited about it.
On his input into the play-calling: I think this offensive staff has done a tremendous job. We are not as far along on offense as we are on defense, and we knew that, and we have to be creative right now to make some things happen. And they are doing a tremendous job. So I hear every play, but I'm staying out of it. Bryan is running the quarterbacks completely. I think I called plays for 12, 15 years, whatever it was, and I could not [give input] to somebody fulltime and call plays. I had a couple of head coaches trying to call plays some for me while I was calling them, and I would have to stop and say, “With all due respect, Coach, I cannot have a fulltime conversation with you and for 15 seconds call plays. So if you'll help me, leave me alone.”
So I don't get involved in play selection at all. I might suggest one, two or three times during the ballgame, and it's usually a trick play or a counter something if they are moving too fast. What I do, I feel like my job is to change the tempo. That if things it are not working, so change it up, go somewhere else. I don't care where you go but change what we are doing. Or it could be, we cross the 40yard line, you have four downs now so if we are three or less or four and less now, I don't want to kick a field goal here, I'd like for you to go for it. But those are usually the things I talk about. The other thing I might do, if one quarterback is struggling, I might say, I'm keeping my notes here now, do you think we need to look at a change. But Bryan and Major are running it, and they are doing a tremendous job. And they have a lot of conversations. Stacy Searels is involved, Darrell Wyatt, Bruce Chambers, they all can talk. Our rule is that you don't talk during the series. You talk between series. And they are working so hard, I haven't seen anything right now that I would change.
On offensive balance: I think the two things that Bryan brought from Boise and the other guys have really added to, are the fact that so many players play. And they have done a unique thing that I don't think anybody else is really doing in college football. They have formation groupings and each player has the different formation. So like [RB] D.J. Monroe might only be involved in three or four formations during the game. So when he hears his formation, he has to get out really fast and perform and he has to listen to every play and be in tune with the play because if they call his formation, he has to go in. He'd better be ready. If he's back having a drink or cutting up with his buddies, he misses his formation. And [WR Miles] Onyegbule has got one and Jaxon has got maybe five. But each one, [RB] Joe Bergeron has one, Malcolm Brown may have four, Fozzy has his unique plays and he may have the same ones as Malcolm. And sometimes they will call a formation and add the name. So they will call “falcon” as a formation, for instance, they will call “Falcon Grant”, which means D.J. [Grant] is the tight end and he will be the primary focus of that formation. So what they have done is they are they are involving all of the players on offense. They are making them pay attention, and they are be making them be ready to go in at any play. And that's hard to do when you play 11 and 12 players and most of them are standing over there bored and not paying any attention. So I think that's really unique in what they do. The second thing is, that it's a fun offense. It's based on power and they had great balance at Boise and we needed to run the ball better. That's been our focus. So to average over 200 yards a game after four weeks is something we are really excited about and something we'll keep doing and building on. We are not where we want to be, and we did not run the ball as consistently well on Saturday night as we wanted to, but we had 40 runs again Saturday night. If you are running the ball 40, 42 times a game, you are going to have a chance to win.
On the defense: We had the open date to work on this game some, and we had an uptempo offense with Iowa State that is very similar in form to the OU offense and the uptempo is really hard when you have an older quarterback that knows what he's doing and he can call plays while you're substituting. No. 1, you can get 12 on the field. No. 2, you can be standing and looking at your defense, the ball will be snapped like it was last year a couple of times early and catch us off guard. And the unique responsibility that will change in the challenge for [defensive coordinator] Manny [Diaz] and for [defensive backs coach] Duane [Akina] this weekend are when you're uptempo it's harder to get your blitzes in. And they blitz all the time. So they will have to figure out how to have some calls in the game built in so they don't have to sit there and get caught off guard.
On OU QB Landry Jones: He looks a lot more like [former OU QB] Sam Bradford now than two years ago. When he first came in he was the young inexperienced guy, not the guy you see now. Now he's confident, the coach on the field, the captain on the field. He's got great talent around him, tremendous receivers, and at the same time he's taking care of the football. Five interceptions as much as they are throwing. It's, really good, 72 percent. That's Colt [McCoy] stuff. So I think Colt's best percentage was 76 percent for a season, and Landry is right in those numbers.
On the walk through the tunnel at the Cotton Bowl: The walk down the tunnel is really unique. People talk about it for years that have coached and played in this game. [OU head coach] Bob [Stoops] and I are used to it now because I have been down the tunnel 14 times. And then if you go in and out, I guess it's more than that, right, I could say 50 times maybe. I do think that the respect has grown between the two teams. Even much different because both teams have been good since the early years when we were both struggling, and I do feel like that it's unique in that both teams come out of the same tunnel and that at times, before we all understood it, there could be some fights and pushing and shoving and talking. And now Bob and I have it worked out where one team goes out first, the other team waits respectfully and they come out behind. So the two teams do not have interaction in the tunnel like we used to have. So I think that's better as well. And I think, people always say, “Boy, intimidating in the tunnel.” It's about fun. It's about fans and the fan experience. You've got some guy cussing you and slobbering all over himself and he's probably half drunk and he's calling your wife names and your grandmother names. He's just having fun, you know. (Laughter) I just laugh at 'em. I only take things that people say to me seriously when I know them. If I don't know them, I just say, “Oohh, boy, he's going to have a headache in the morning.” In fact, some of them, I'll say, he won't see the game. But when I was at OU, I used to sit and would always have an account of how many Texas fans came to the emergency room and how many Oklahoma fans and that was an account of how the fans were fired up before the game. I think the modern day police and internet, that's slowed down a little bit, too. I don't think we have as many fights at the West End. It's unique. It's fun. I coached at OU and my brother coached there two years. I have tremendous respect for that school. I have got a lot of friends at OU, like I do A&M. So I don't get into the fight. I get into the fun and this is a fun game. Everybody talks about the pressure with this game. There would not be pressure if it wasn't fun and unique. Everybody in the nation is talking about Texas and OU this week, and that's what you want for both schools.
On OU WR Ryan Broyles: Ryan is a guy that walked on the scene as a star. He walked out there the first game we played. He could catch and run fast and make plays and he's done it every year that we've played them. I'm really glad he's a senior. I've enjoyed watching him.
On OU LB Travis Lewis: I really like Travis. I've enjoyed watching him play, and I always look him up after the game and he's got such a great attitude and he's a spirited player. He loves to play. He doesn't get into the nasty stuff, and he's not really mouthy. He's a positive, upbeat young man that I really enjoy watching him play, and he's going to have a great pro career.
On being excited about the team’s progress: The next two weeks is a measuring stick for us. We are playing two of the best teams in the country, and these two will be better than what we played in the first four weeks. I want to see us respond. I think that's good.
On OU dealing with the death of Austin Box: It's a tragedy any time we lose young people. It's just more visible when they play sports. But I've been around the [former Longhorn] Cole Pittman issue and the team and the coaching staff has obviously embraced in honoring the memory of Austin, which they should. He was a tremendous player and team leader, as well. As important as they games are, there's reallife stuff outside of these games and you think of all of the parents that have lost a child. It doesn't go away, from what I hear. I hope and pray I never deal with that. I want to die before my children. But for the Pittmans, even today, ten years later, it's unbelievable. I got an unbelievable email from Chase Pittman the other day about ten years ago, and those are things that change your life. So I'm sure that Bob, their staff and all of their players have a change in their life because of what Austin meant to them and trying to move forward. And the Pittmans, trying to use his loss as something that can be a positive for us to learn from and move forward in our lives, and that's a difficult thing to do.
On last season serving as a motivator for this year: Yes, I think wakeup call might not be the best way to put it. I think it's a kick in the face, kick in the stomach. Whatever it was, it was awful. I hate it, for teams and coaches that lose all the time, because we want it so much. So after a win, I expected it. So I walk off the field, get dressed and start worrying about the next one and there was no joy in winning. There's a lot of things that we can say about Saturday night, but I enjoyed Saturday night. When you get a “W” that's fun. I've enjoyed the four wins this year as much as I have in a long time, and that's why I'm happier and things are better in my life because when you accomplish something and the players accomplish it, it's not going to be perfect. College football is not a perfect sport. There's going to be kids messing up. There's going to be coaches making poor decisions, and that's kind of the fun of it. Everybody - it's like their own lives - everybody has problems in their own lives.