Oct. 6, 2008
Opening statement: We had a fun game in Boulder on Saturday night. It was good to watch the guys play, unlike last year with Kansas State. They were ready to play, they played hard, they played physical and we got a quick start offensively and defensively to the game and came back out the second half and did the same. It was a lot of fun, and it was good to see Michael Huff there. I'm sure they had a tough week out in Oakland with a coaching change and all that kind of stuff, but it was good to see him on the sidelines. He's really so supportive of the kids, and especially the defensive backs. Michael has always been a guy who calls them and texts them and stays in touch with them, so that's really, really good for him.
Defensively, we were very good at sudden change. Sudden change to us means that the offense has a turnover and the ball is usually inside the red zone. The defense is over there making their plans and we have to scream to get them out on the field. They came out and forced three field goals by Colorado and they missed all three, which was very, very good for us. We had five three-and-outs by our defense, which kept them off the field and those guys didn't have to play as much. We're really doing a good job getting after the quarterback. There were three sacks, 11 hits on the quarterback, so 14 times we made the quarterback uncomfortable in his passing setup and made him move his feet and makes it more difficult for him to throw, and we had four batted balls. We only had three missed tackles for the game that led to 43 yards after contact. They had five explosive plays but three of them were on the last drive against our younger guys. We weren't as pleased with the way the young guys played when they went in there. We really had two explosive plays for the first three quarters. Red zone, we stopped them two out of three times, the one time was disappointing because we had a fourth-and-10 and did not make the stop. Third down we weren't as good, they had two or three third down-and-1 that they converted which is tough, but we also let them have a couple of third-and-7s and third-and-8s. We forced two turnovers.
Most productive players on defense, Roy Miller and Blake Gideon played really, really well throughout the night so we're pleased with both of those young guys. Ball hawks which means they did something to knock a ball loose - Jared Norton, Aaron Williams continues to play well, Roy Miller and Rashad Bobino. The Hard Hat award went to Curtis Brown and the kickoff where he really lit the young guy up over on the Colorado boundary.
Offensively, we had nine explosive plays. In fact, our top three receivers, Jordan (Shipley), Quan (Cosby) and Chris Ogbonnaya are averaging 14 or 15 yards per reception so they're doing a good job with some explosives there. We were four of four in the red zone again. I think we've scored 24 out of 25 times. The third-and-shorts were not good. We got stuffed a couple of times on third-and-short and two tight situations, which was really disappointing for us. There were no offensive penalties, the second time this year. We had a great drive after Colorado scored their seven points in the third quarter. The offense came back out after turning the ball over and drove the length of the field in four plays and scored, and good teams need to answer.
Our most productive player was Chris Ogbonnaya, he played really well again, his total yards were impressive with the receptions and his running yards, and maybe the most impressive thing he did after the long interception that they run back down to about the 20-yard line, he chased the guy down, knocked him out of bounds, our defense holds and they miss a field goal. That really might have been a 14-point swing in the ballgame and at that time it was very important. The best offensive lineman, the Boss Hog, was Cedric Dockery for the first time for him so we're pleased with him that he's coming along. Biggest contributor was Colt McCoy. I thought the first play was fabulous where he stepped up, got up near the line of scrimmage and threw the ball out to Chris for a 60-plus-yard touchdown pass. The great plays throughout the night came from Jordan Shipley. We're really pleased with Jordan. He's averaging over 15 yards a catch and made a couple of screen plays and turned them into first downs that were really critical for us.
Special teams, we had three punts dead inside the 20-yard line, five out of five on extra points, had a 46-yard field goal. We're really proud of Hunter Lawrence. He was the special teams player of the week because he continues to do really, really well.
I do want to thank the Colorado medical staff and highway patrol for taking such good care of Sally after she fell. They did a great job. I know we don't release injury reports until Friday but l am going to say that it looks good for her to make the game on Saturday.
On the Red River Rivalry: It is a great rivalry. Rivalries are usually determined by the section of the country people live in. If you go talk to the Georgia and Florida people, they're going to talk about that rivalry and it's the only one. My experience is I've moved a lot, I've been around in college football, everybody thinks theirs is the only one. This is really big to us. It's really big to Oklahoma. I have been fortunate to be on both sides of this like Coach Royal and see what it means to both teams, and it's even bigger when both teams are really, really good like they are this year. It's good for college football and it's good for the Big 12 and this part of the country that both teams are really good this year and it should matchup to be a great game.
On the matchup of quarterbacks between Texas' Colt McCoy and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford: I'd have to go back and look at it but I don't see how it could be any better. You look at stats and I know stats get skewed now because second-teamers are in there, but these two guys have just been on fire. They're unbelievable the way they're playing and leading their team. I go back and look at this game over our 11 years here and my one year at Oklahoma and it's really impressive when a young quarterback can come into this game and play well because of the pressure surrounding the game and the matchup. Colt has done it for two years and Sam (Bradford) did it last year. For those two young guys to have that presence in this game for their first year says something about their toughness, their character and their leadership.
On the importance of turnovers in this game: Last year was a really, really tight game. We had the two turnovers. They didn't have any. They forced the two and both of them were at times when we were going into score. The year before, they had the turnovers and we protected the ball well and didn't have any. If you look at the last two years of this game, we've split, and it's been about turnovers and kicking game. It's going to be a tough game, both teams are going to play hard, both teams are going to play well and it's going to be a real physical ballgame and it usually, as I said, it comes down to turnovers.
On both teams coming into the game undefeated: This is a better motivation. Both teams slipped last year. In fact, we really used the OU-CU game last year at halftime, because a week before the Oklahoma game, Colorado came back and won last year, and we used that as motivation at halftime. It's so good for this game and everybody involved that both teams are coming in off of a high and a really good performance because they dominated Baylor as well, rather than coming in last year like both teams did, limping in.
On Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray: They probably haven't watched him as much as I have. He looks really good to me. He's just a great football player. He can catch. He can run. The play where TCU blitzes everybody and he comes scot-free down the middle of the field and it's a hot situation and Sam just takes the ball and dumps it to him and he goes right down to the goal line. I don't think he's dropped off at all.
On Sam Bradford and the Oklahoma offense: They've got a bunch of seniors in their offensive line and they're really, really good. I'd say four or five of those guys will be in the NFL next year. (Bradford) is tall, he's athletic, he's a great golfer, he's a great basketball player and he can move. He's a guy that is really smart, he's heady and he gets the ball out of his hands fast and all of their receivers are really good players, as well, and the tight end at some point his career will be in the NFL. They're just talented and he gets the ball to them so they make it very, very difficult to get to him and they make it difficult because they're spread and they're no huddle. They make it difficult for you to disguise because they snap the ball so quickly. They're outscoring people 103-3 in the first quarter with their up-tempo offense. I think we're 58 or 59-3 in the first quarter. Both teams have jumped out quickly. They've done it as well as anybody in the country.
On his familiarity with Oklahoma's tendencies after coaching against them for 11 years: You can usually look back a couple of years. The game changes so much. They've got tendencies on Will (Muschamp) from two years at Auburn, but they would look back at those films as much as anything else. Coach Stoops' staff has not changed much the last couple of years from a coordinators standpoint. I think just basically the demeanor of the game, the buildup of the game, the pre-game, the halftime adjustments, what the game means to everybody, everything around the game is probably more important than the tendencies because they'll change. Bob's a great coach. They do a super job. You know some of those things are going to change. This is one of those times a year when you try to break some of your tendencies.
On his expectations for his teams and this year's schedule: The 2005 team I thought would win all the games, and Ohio State was really a difficult game, but if we could get by that one I thought we had a chance to run the table, and then when we beat OU that year I really felt like we had a chance if we stayed healthy and, obviously, got ready to play. I think it changes every year and it's gotten more difficult now to determine how your team's going to play just by looking around the country because there are more upsets than ever before for whatever reason. What we've tried to do now, and this game will be no different, you try to take it as a one-game week, you prepare for it, you do the best job you can do with it, you try to win it and then next week we've got Missouri at number two, the next week we've got Oklahoma State that to me is the most underrated team in our league at 17 because they've just run up and down the field on everybody, and then you've got Texas Tech in Lubbock. I think what's happened in college football and especially with our schedule this year - it's going to be every week. If we win this weekend that doesn't mean we're in great shape, that means we're going back to work and we'd better go back fast because Missouri's playing so well.
On the upcoming four-game stretch against four top-20 teams: I don't think Texas has ever had one like this and we've never had one like this. I told the guys it's a great opportunity for us. This is a fun team. This is a special team and they're working really hard. Nobody will question who we're playing, nobody will question how good we are and how much fun is that to go compete against the best in the country and at a time when the Big 12's the best they've ever been so good for the Big 12.
On the Oklahoma receiving corps and the respect between the teams: These guys have been around a long time. Malcolm Kelly left early and he would be in this group, but we remember this group from playing in their freshman or redshirt freshman years. I'm sure they think Quan (Cosby) and Jordan (Shipley) have been here forever too as we start looking at it. (Manuel) Johnson, (Juaquin) Iglesias, all those guys have played so much football against us. I do think that the respect is back in the game for both teams and both teams know both teams are really good right now. They'll expect a real battle against each other.
On playing such an important game at midseason: People get so excited in these two states. There's a pep rally, there's all this stuff that doesn't normally happen. We won this game and lost the last two games when we were in great shape to win the conference championship two years ago, and it just killed us. If everybody said the season's over after Oklahoma, it's not. You've got to go back to work and I think Bob (Stoops) would say the same thing. One of the difficult things for us is to play an important, high-profile game like this at midseason and make sure that next Sunday, you go to work and go back to work regardless win or lose because the season's not near over anymore in the Big 12 with a game this big at midseason. I'm sure Georgia and Florida said the same thing to them. It's just unusual to have something that's so important to this many people at midseason, and now it's a conference game.
On the national implications for this game: You want what you do to be important. You want to enjoy it. You want people to be excited about it. You're proud of your team when they are deserving of national recognition, and for the first time now, I think, after five games this team's proven that we deserve to be somebody that somebody's acknowledging now as a team that's played well for five weeks. OU's doing the same thing. It just makes it more special for all of us, more fun for (the media) to cover two good teams. I remember when we got here everybody said the luster was gone, this game wasn't important anymore and nobody really cared about it and it wasn't even a national TV game and it was so sad that the Texas-OU game was unimportant. It was important to the players, it was important to the coaches, but it's back now to where it has national implications and that's fun.
On the hoopla that surrounds the Texas-OU game: None of that really matters to coaches. If you look at the big upsets to weeks ago, all of them were at home. We're seeing now home-field advantage isn't what it used to be. I'm not sure why. Bill Little told me when I first got here momentum changes so much in this game because it's half-and-half. I found out the half that's playing good is a lot louder than the half that's playing bad. I think it depends on how you play. All the talk last week about the 70-3 game, none of those things matter. It's the team that plays the best when you get out there. You can throw out the stats, you can throw out who you play, the kids have to play good and the coaches have to do a good job of coaching on Saturday. I'll never forget Brian Bosworth when I was at Oklahoma making all the comments before we played Texas in '84 and I walked in to Coach Switzer's office and said 'Coach, we need to back off here,' and he said, 'It will not make any difference in this game. Both teams will run into each other like two Mack trucks are going to hit each other right in the face. It never matters what they say before the game so don't worry about it.' And he did make 17 tackles and was the player of the game. I don't think any of that stuff really matters. It's fun, it's big, national TV, 11:00, ABC, everybody in the country will be talking about it, (ESPN) GameDay will be there, all those things are fun things. To the players and the coaches, what will matter only is who wins the ballgame.
On if he thinks both teams are playing equally as well at this point: I don't know. We've watched them for a day and a half, so it's unfair for me to say how they're playing. They're number one in the country and they're playing great, they're a little ahead of us with turnover ratio. If you go back and look, both teams have answered the bell and done what they should do to this point. Last year neither one of us would have said that because we both had a loss going in to this game. I do think that both teams have done what they can do to put themselves in a position for this game.
On the tight end and running back positions: Our question marks would be tight end, still to see where we are because of the loss of Blaine (Irby) and making sure that the last half of the season - where do we go? What do we do? And the second one would be now to get settled on the running backs. We won't know about the status of Fozzy (Whittaker) until Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, because every week we've thought that he would play and he just hasn't. He just hasn't been able to get cleared yet to play. What we've got to do is go back and now really review the first five games and try to figure out what situations is each guy best in. Chris (Ogbonnaya) was a high school receiver, he's averaging 14, 15 yards a catch. He's a mismatch on linebackers and even safeties in some cases because he's like a receiver and he can run so he's really good in all those situations. He's 215 pounds, he broke a lot of tackles Saturday night on certain plays and made some long runs for us. All of those things are things that you need in this game, and he's got really good ball security. I think the other thing that's key in the stats is OU has not lost a fumble this year, we've lost two. That is key, so you've got to have a guy that's going to protect the ball.
On Oklahoma's up-tempo offense: Sam (Bradford) doesn't run as much, but can. You can see him scramble and make some plays with his feet. They really haven't run much option with him but he can move, he can sprint, they move him around. The best thing they've done is they've taken those great players and with an up-tempo offense, they're really keeping pressure on the defense right now and they're making it really hard to substitute. You see in games where they're catching people with 12 on the field because they're trying to keep substitution groupings, so they've done a good job. We've done a good job with the up-tempo. To me they've done a better job with it because they're relentless with snapping the ball quickly.
On the team's pass rush: I think everything's relative. We've got really good players, they've got really good players, so you may not as many (pressures) as you did in the fourth quarter against Colorado. Pass rush is pass rush. If you look at the way Roy Miller and Brian Orakpo and some of those guys, you start looking at Lamarr Houston, Henry Melton, Sergio (Kindle), those guys are getting pressure on the passer and they're getting pressure on the passer early in the game so I don't think there's any doubt that they can be a force each week, regardless of who we're playing.