Oct. 9, 2012
Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin:
On the Oklahoma defense: I think from facing them last year, the environment, the game, the whole, everything surrounding this game and just watching them today up front - backers, safeties, all those things, yeah, those are playing very well. They look good in what they're doing, and they've been very competitive on every play of each game I've seen. There hasn't been plays in there where they weren't competitive with the offense they were playing.
On new OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops: Both guys defensively are difficult to go against. You know, not being there and knowing the dynamics and all that inside, last year obviously the defense, they were very good against us, what they did. But for us we've got to worry about what they're doing and take care of our business, do our jobs. We know that we're going to play a very good football team this Saturday.
On expecting to face a more difficult time with a better defense: Well, I think we're always expecting that. That's something you always prepare for no matter who you play. They're going to make plays, defenses are going to make plays. They're going to be prepared. You assume all those things, that you're going to get their best shot every game, and this is no different. We know we'll get it. Their emotions will be there. Their intensity will be there. We've got to match that. We've got to bring our execution because they're going to bring theirs. It really comes down to there's going to be matchups in there, and those matchups, oneonones, whatever it is [we've] got to be able to win. And we've got to win more matchups than they do and find ways not to turn the ball over and put ourselves in positive situations.
On using some situations in the game as a teaching tool: Every game. You know, when you talk to the guys, I said to them what I would say if we had won the game, in those situations that we were in. Obviously we want to put points on the board and we get the turnover down there and we didn't do that, and that would have been no different win or lose in that game. And so that's the funny thing is every week with a "W" or an "L," it's going to be the same points that come up, because really it comes down to us. It comes down to us doing our jobs. Did we do our jobs and how well did we do them and did we get better? And that really is the whole key. And so we had a turnover in there, we had an opportunity to score and we didn't. Those are things that for us we look at and we decide, "Okay, how are we going to get this fixed this week in practice?" And what were the reasons why, and try to correct those and move forward. We have another big game this week that we can't dwell on what happened last week, but we have to learn from it and get better.
On QB David Ash: I like where David is at. He's playing well. He's making good decisions. He's playing with confidence. And he's preparing himself well. I think there's a lot of things probably from this game last year that we were able to use in spring ball, fall camp, summer, and look at how we played in that game. And I think as you draw on those experiences, which David did, that's something that's made him a better player. It's made him where he is right now. I think he's excited about the opportunity to play Oklahoma again. He's excited about where he's at and how he's playing. But like everybody else, it's about getting better, and he'd be the first one to tell you this week I've got to improve, got to get better, got to find ways to make more plays. And that's what I like about our team and I like about David in particular is that he really believes that. That's his mindset, and he comes out to work each week to do that. And if that continues to be so, then he'll continue to get better.
On if the nature of the Texas-OU game makes it difficult to balance the emotions in the game: Yes, I think it does. I think that's something you have to address early in the week and just lay out the environment. Here's two teams, two very good football teams in a rivalry game with fans and emotion that goes into it. Don't hide the fact of what it is; everybody understands that. Now you get that whole side, now it comes down to playing ball. Here's their defense. Here's what they do. Here's the execution we need to have. You want to go in with emotion but you don't want to be geeked out to where you just can't perform. You've peaked too soon before the game and all that. We don't want that. We'll address it. We'll talk about it, and then it comes back down to every single week like we've done before, try to get better, work harder, prepare harder and get yourself ready to play.
On if he can "check the pulse" of some of the younger players before the game: And their eyes are this big, yeah. I think to some degree, a lot of the guys that are playing now have played in this game. They played last year. Some of the newer guys I think those older guys will have to help them understand the environment. And there's less guys in this game than there were last year that are young players, and so that will obviously help. Some of those younger guys just say, "Hey, do your job, this is what we need you to do." Like any big game, any rivalry game, there is that emotion. And as long as their minds are right and you feel like going into it they're out there and they're wideeyed and ready to go, that's fine. And I think we know our players well enough to know if they're overhyped or they're ready and intense and just want to get out there and play. I think that's the balancing act leading into the week and just talking about those things, and so there's no surprises when they do step out there on the field and see the surroundings and they just understand it's time to play.
On his feelings about his first time at the Texas-OU game last year: I had heard about it. Being there is a completely different deal. I mean, it's great. It's everything that I think you would hope for in college football. It's about as perfect of an environment when it comes to that type of thought, when people think about college ball and things like that. I felt that walking out there. I felt like this is pretty cool, and I knew what type of game we were heading into. And I think that's something that, myself included, we can all draw from is we know what to expect from that standpoint, so let's go out there and play.
On if both teams having one loss makes the game more critical: Probably not. I think undefeated, you know, one loss, two loss, this game this week is just it is what it is. You know regardless of the score that both teams are going to play four quarters. There's not going to be a letdown. There will be a fight for four quarters, and there'll be effort for four quarters, and I just think that's the whole mentality of this game. So that's what you prepare yourself for. We're going to fight for four quarters regardless of what happens. Up. Down. Even. It doesn't matter. That's what we have to do. You expect that from Oklahoma, as well, because of the nature of the game.
On if he would change anything from the WVU game: Yeah, you know, the series that we had there after the fumbled exchange the two plays we ran we had run previous, one gained 12 [yards], one gained 6. So there was 18 yards off the previous plays and the same one that we had run. Obviously didn't get that same result. What I felt like, we got down inside the sixyard line, and when we were there in the red zone on the goal line, we had punched the ball in each time. So if we could get down there, probably going to be in twodown territory if we didn't kick a field goal to tie it. If we got close, hey, we want to go for it and score, be in fourdown territory and try to get inside the sixyard line there and punch it in. And then there at the end with the snap, we had a pretty good pass play on that was going to put us in a good situation there or at least have a chance to kick it if we didn't. And then just had the mishap on the snap there and put us out of field goal range and put us further back. So that was something that as you look on that, there are some corrections to make there. And I think in games like that you come down to it's just certain critical situations in games. It's probably going to be maybe two, maybe three when you're playing a very good football team that really mattered. Obviously that one really mattered in that situation there, and so we go back, watch the tape, learn from it, get better and understand that when we're there again - which we will be at some point - let's draw from that experience. Let's correct it and put ourselves in position to either tie it or go up in that type of situation there.
On RB Johnathan Gray just missing scoring a TD on his long run: I think Joe [Bereron] was like, "If you do it, man, I've got you." No, it was actually one of the positive plays that we watched, and just to see Johnathan it's actually kind of funny when you get a chance to slow it down and watch it, just kind of slithering through back and forth and guys were kind of giggling watching him there. And then like anybody, if a punter catches you on the punt return, it's like, "Aww." You'd like to see him get in. But like we said, each week he's gotten better and better. That will continue. He'll be the first one [to say], "I've got to improve." You like that about him. He's got a great mentality just as far as, "All I've got to do is get better." And that's his whole mindset, and he's doing that week to week.
On RB Johnathan Gray: I just think his mentality. He gets it. You know, he's not one to sit back there and complain or pout. He understands the situation that we're in, and he also understands that the backfield is crowded. It's not always going to be that way, and Malcolm [Brown] being out, "Okay, here's my chance. I've been preparing for this. I want to do my part for my team. I want to do my job to the best of my ability, and whatever he asks me to do, I'll do it." And I think he trusts that we're going to try to put him in successful situations, and when we do, he's going to go out there and take over and make plays for us. That's what we love about him. He just doesn't flinch when it comes to any of that stuff. He doesn't worry about the things he can't control. He just controls his plays out there, and he gets himself ready to go.
On getting players a certain number of touches: I think in every game plan we have that. Here's the thing: you've got to prepare to do that. If you start deciding when you're calling plays that you're going to do this regardless because you feel like you have to because you want to get a number, then you're calling plays the wrong way in my opinion. You call them from the standpoint of the flow of the game and who's hot and what they're giving you. So every game he has an opportunity to touch the ball. This one, we tried in the red zone, we had a couple plays down there that we had pegged at a certain hash to get to, could never get there. Had we called them just to call them in the situation we were in, it would have been real stupid, and it woul.dn't have been good. It is what it is when it comes to those type of things. [RB] DJ. Monroe along with several other guys, you'd say the same thing about. If you don't get this guy the ball out of 70 some plays and you're about half running it and things like that, you've got only one ball to go around. So we try to do our best job of putting those guys in situations to have the ball, and the defense obviously looks at that, too, and says we're not going to let you do that, and it goes somewhere else.
On if he feels the offense is flowing like the ones he coached at Boise State:
Well, it's still not flowing. I think each week we've had our issues every week. Nothing has been perfect and the same at Boise. I think this; I think the way that our team on offense prepares themselves and how they understand what the game plan is going to be week to week, that's what I get more joy out of. Guys come in and say, "Hey, we're probably going to do this, this, this and this, right, because I saw that on tape?" Exactly. So they're starting to just get ahead of the curve when it comes to how we prepare or what I'm thinking or what we're thinking play wise and things like that. That's what's been more enjoyable because you know the guys when they come to Tuesday's practice are more prepared than they've been, Wednesdays more prepared, Thursdays they're dialed in, and then come game day we've just got to go out there and execute like we've been doing. That to me [if] we continue that trend, it just gets us to that point faster where we can execute at a higher level earlier in the week and really [get] Thursday practice to really be humming and dialed in and feeling really confident. And I've felt we've been doing that. As the week goes on, you get to those Thursday practices, and we're executing. And I thought we did this last Thursday. We were executing at a high level in that practice and guys were zipping along and making plays and knowing exactly where to line up. That's where you feel good as a coach. Where we've done as much as we can going into this game to be prepared to play our very best, and if we do that, if we go play our very best and we execute at a high level and we do everything we can and we get beat, go ahead and shake their hand. Tell them great job. But there's probably going to be more of us winning those games than losing them if we do those things, and we've been doing them in practice. We've got to carry the rest of it over to the games.
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny Diaz
On his thoughts after viewing tape of the WVU game: When we came in as a coaching staff and we went over it, there were so many positives on there, there were so many things that we didn't even know that we could do going into a game facing the challenges that they presented for us. I think it was natural for our guys to feel bad about the way the game transpired, and there certainly are enough mistakes for us to correct, but there were a lot of positives that kind of have me excited going forward.
On the positives he saw on tape: Well, you know, on first, second and third down when you took out the screen passes, [WVU QB] Geno Smith completed half of his passes for like 120 yards, and this is a guy we're talking about usually more touchdown passes than completions. Those are things that had not been done to him before. And then you go three of 12 on third down, what ended up happening, it was like playing a great baseball team and getting more outs per inning. I think one of the soundest stats in the game was field position because they were either starting for for some of the drives, not all - but they were either starting in fourdown territory as it turned out or usually a first down got them into fourdown territory. But you've got to give them credit, too. There's a lot of people that would have punted where they had the football, but that just goes into when you have a guy like that that can hold the football that you can trust, that can execute on those fourth down plays, sometimes you just have to give him the credit for having confidence in their guy and then their guy making a play when it mattered.
On any missed tackling in this game: No, we had less. We were in single digits. We had, I think, seven, which was the best we have done, and part of that goes to the way that we covered. It was like we said going in, [WVU WR] Tavon Austin is hard to tackle. He's going to have a bunch of missed tackles, people try and tackle him. Guys like [S] Kenny Vaccaro did a great job of trying to deny him the ball. What you were doing was you were limiting runaftercatch possibilities, which is where he gets to the open field, and that's where he's so hard to bring to the ground. The way our defensive line played up front, the way we rushed the passer and things like that was very exciting to see. As a coach, and again, you want to talk about improving, we had to find a way to win the game, which was ultimately our failure, but there's a lot of things to get you excited about coming to work the next day.
On the linebackers: Same thing with them. They woke up Sunday morning disappointed. They came in, and after they watched the film, they felt a lot better. Certainly, again, there were some things that, with what West Virginia does, West Virginia, with their three wide outs most of the time, they are running pass routes while they're running a running play, okay. This is just what the game has turned into. If you're going to single cover all those wide receivers with somebody deep, then you can outnumber their running game. But then it's oneonone on Tavon Austin, now he's going to catch the ball, and now you have to tackle the guy in space. So you really have to devote on almost every snap five men to cover their three wide receivers, which left it six versus six on the inside. It was a hard day for our linebackers, and that's what I tried to explain to them. I said, I could put my ego out in front; we could have tried to do something to hold them to negative four rushing yards and they could have thrown for 4,000 - who knows what would happen if that was the result. What I was happy about, I was happy to see Steve Edmond start to make some positive plays. I was happy for Kendall Thompson really in his first game ever going against an offense like that to show up and slash and make a couple plays. They'll take confidence from that going forward from here on out whenever we get Jordan [Hicks] back.
On S Mykkele Thompson: Mykkele was exciting. He is a guy that made his living carrying the football, so from the time he was first put on shoulder pads, he was taught to avoid people. [Defensive backs coach] Duane Akina has a lot of good qualities as a coach, but one of the things he does is take guys like that and sort of harden them up to become physical backs because we really try to pride ourselves on being a physical secondary. One of the plays to me that was most exciting about Mykkele, I think they threw a screen pass and it was on our sideline, an offensive lineman came to block him, and [DE] Reggie Wilson was pursuing the ball from inside out, and you'll see a lot of defensive backs, what their natural instinct will do is to retreat versus the offensive lineman. What that does is for Reggie is going to make the tackle, somebody just sticks their nose in it, and Mykkele went there and knocked into the offensive lineman. And that was a big play in our room. So during that, being a sure tackler, it was a game where communication was secondary with all the crowd noise, which was unbelievable, was going to be paramount and we were always on point with what we were doing with the multiple different coverages we were playing. There was a lot of things to be excited about that he can take forward into this next game.
On learning and moving forward: Yes, well, what you show the guys is we just needed to win. And that's what's always funny is even the week before, all you have to do in the game is find a way to win it, and what it came down to, and I think we said this even all week last week, it was going to come down to winning the critical situations. And that's where the fourth downs, that's where some of the red zone throws and really sort of the last two possessions of the game it was like a great basketball game where everybody is hitting threepointers and just insane plays back and forth. And ultimately it comes down to the execution and the last couple possessions. So you can show, yes, we understand what we just defended, and they're going to give a lot of people problems. And that's why we can take confidence out of it. Okay, now, how do we win the football game? What was the initial plan? Where did we fail in trying to win the football game? Better than we could have ever imagined on third down, lost the game on fourthh down, red zone defense. I think we had given up one touchdown in the red zone all year or something like that, and we gave up five. Things like that that we felt we could have been stronger in.
On if making a big play at the right time is the difference between a win or a loss: It is, yeah. The Big 12 is a playmaking league on defense, to be sure, and that's why I was very excited to see that we made plays, scoring on defense, which was a big deal. Blocking a field goal. Blocking a punt, things like that, that normally relate to winning. But winning is also possession downs and red zone. I would contend it's yards versus points, that you will surrender yards in this conference, the offenses are too good, the tempo that they go at, just the different ways they attack you. But it's the points, how do you stop the points? Not as many explosive plays in terms of touchdowns. We were a little bit better at that, so now it comes down to possession downs and red zone.
On the Oklahoma game: I think in the game, I think you understand who they are and how it's going to transpire. I think what stands out, everybody said this going into the game, it's a the atmosphere around the game I think is so unique. I think it favors those that have been there before. You could see the players on both sides of the ball that had been there before. They start the game a little faster than the ones that don't. We rely on our experienced players to push through that. I think we're a little more experienced this year perhaps than we were last. And then the other issue is because of the dynamic of the crowd. It's a game much like this past weekend, but it's a game of giant momentum plays. And when something happens from a momentum standpoint, and it's going to happen for one side, that you really are relying on your play makers on the other team to sort of make the play to get momentum switched back because you can really feel it goes back to that NCAA tournament type atmosphere. When someone gets on a roll it tends to snowball in that setting, more than it might if you're playing at home or on the road because of the 50/50 fan base.
On the Texas-OU experience: It's an exciting day to be around. It doesn't happen all over the country in college football. This is what makes us different. This is what makes this game unique. As a coach you always look from the inside in, you want to be a part of those type of games. But the most important thing is we're not just going there to make up numbers, we're going there to win the football game, and how do we have to do that. So that'll be our main focus, and I'm really excited about the challenge.
On OU quarterback Landry Jones: I think Landry Jones is an outstanding quarterback. I think he's been one of the best quarterbacks in the country in the last couple years. The issue with time to me, what quarterback doesn't want the time? What quarterback wants pressure? I think some of the criticisms that get leveled against him are really, really unfair. I think he's a great player. I think he's been a winner the time he's been there. He can make every throw that you need to make. Yeah, I mean, every quarterback Geno Smith didn't play as well with no one plays as well with pressure. So I think that's sort of - I think that's unfair. And again, with his experience in the game, there's nothing he hasn't seen. There's nothing you show him that he hasn't seen before. He'll give us everything we can handle.
On if he liked the extra emotion the players seemed to exhibit: Again, with defense, you have to play with emotion. Part of the credit goes to our crowd. Our crowd was unbelievable on Saturday night. You know, just helped our guys play, helped our guys get excited to play, helped us. Because again, momentum did shift, which we were talking about. They went up by a couple scores and then we fumbled. It was 217 when the defense went out on the field. And there's a chance now, with Geno's second play, they throw a flea flicker, they're going for the jugular right now. Our guys match up on it great on the coverage end and [DE Jackson] Jeffcoat gets a sack. He only gets a sack because they're trying to get [WVU WR] Stedman [Bailey] down the field and we've got three defensive backs surrounding Stedman, so great discipline by the back end. Then we get the sack. The next play or two plays later there's a fumble I'm sorry, that drive turned into a blocked punt. The next drive turns into a fumble, and bang, it's 2121, the place is jumping. That's what the guys a little like what we're talking about - that's how they now believe they can make momentum plays to get the game turned around. It's hard to do, though, with that energy because one thing you know about Oklahoma they're going to come out with great energy and great spirit and passion. This is going to be very much like we've been through, and this is what this conference is all about now. These teams are all too good, and so every week it's going to be a heavyweight battle with plays back and forth. So you're going to have to understand, you're going to have to respond to some adversity and you're going to have to understand no matter what happens you're going to have to get back up off the mat and keep swinging.
On if the offense can match the defense's emotion: Well, I think everyone has to play with great emotion. I think there's an intensity level that an offense, which is a precision style, a precisionbased outfit where defensively you should have a little bit more intensity than perhaps on offense. But at the same time, you have to manage that because it's a very stressful environment. Oklahoma's offense with the tempo they're running is a very stressful offense to go against. So you have to make sure that you don't wear yourself out. So yeah, it's a game where being locked in and being ready for the next play because they're going to present the next play so fast that you don't have a lot of time to think about what just happened. So it's a game where, again, we can sort of rahrah and tear down the locker room door, but we'd better be ready to play the next play. That's really what matters against Oklahoma.
On DT Malcom Brown: We were excited about some of the plays that Malcom showed when he was in there. We had him in there in some critical situations. That's just the development of a football player. You see him, he started doing some nice things back in twoadays and then struggled in group work, then did some nice things in group work but then in team was kind of lost and then started making good plays in team and then he struggles when he goes into a game. And he goes into a game and does a little bit, but now he goes in the game again and makes big plays. Obviously he's a great athlete. He's got great change of direction for a guy his size, so things like that make his future very bright.