Oct. 12, 2009
Opening statement: It's finally here. OU week is here. People talk about it all year. Fans talk about it. Kids look forward to it on both teams. Coaches look forward to it. It's a great game. It's always difficult the week before because everyone is talking about the next week. I am glad that we are at this point.
The good things that happened Saturday night; we are 2-0 in the league, we're 5-0 overall, and we're still a top-ranked team. (Texas) Tech has been a tough game for us and Colorado has, so to have those two behind us is good in the league, and we have had really tough physical games with both of them. We think we have gotten a lot accomplished, but we still have a lot of things that we need to do. You look at the good things again. This is probably the first time since we have been a Texas that we have a great chance to score with all the phases. We can score on defense now and that hasn't been something that we have done consistently well. We can definitely score in the kicking game better than at anytime. Jordan's run was phenomenal on Saturday night. Duane Akina has done as a good a job at blocking kicks as anybody I have ever seen or been around. For him to be able to take a guy like Marquise Goodwin, who is a freshman, who has not played defense, who was not around in the spring, not around in the summer, and to have him be part of two great plays Saturday, one, blocking the punt, but number two, he had the best block on Jordan's punt return because he took his guy, he knocked him to the ground, and as the guy got up, he stays on him. If you go back and review that, it is one of the great plays of the year, and I am really really happy for Marquise because he is getting involved in the kicking game in a lot of ways. Jordan Shipley, we put him back on kickoffs this weekend so that he and D.J. could start getting some chemistry together before next week's game with OU because Jordan is obviously one of the best kick and punt returners in the country and one of the best of all time for us. His mood Saturday night was just unbelievable. We can't go back and talk about penalties, but his 27-yard punt return was a really good punt return, too. The call on Malcolm Williams really didn't affect the play at all, so Jordan gives us a chance, every time he time he touches it, to score, along with D.J. and kickoffs and punts now, so we are really excited.
Our offense is still number one in the country in scoring and that's exciting for us because we do have the ability to score a lot of points even though there are things we didn't do well Saturday night. And probably we are playing the best defense against modern day offense since we have been here. Some of the Carl Reese defenses were number two in the country back in the early 2000s, but people weren't throwing the ball like they are now, so it's harder to keep people down. So I am really proud of our defense and how they continue to improve. Colt hit 82 percent Saturday night, and I think some of us go cold on him because he is just so good, and we make that for granted - 82 percent. What a wonderful performance and a Heisman-like performance, without a doubt. And especially when you didn't have a running game to help. One of the best performances Saturday night that I have ever seen. It kept us hanging in there offensively. If you go back and look at the first half offensively, we had the ball 41 plays, but we just weren't scoring points. We moved the ball and had 214 yards total offense. The second half, we didn't move it the first two times we had it, but the defense and special teams took over so much with the blocked punt, an interception for a touchdown, and a punt return for a touchdown, that the first-team offense only had 21 plays in the second half. It was really, really good that our defense scored, but you lose offensive snaps for sure.
When you start looking at stopping the run, I am not sure that we have been tested. We will be tested for the first time on Saturday night because OU has got two great backs, but we did a great job Saturday night against the best running attack we have seen so far and as bad as we were running the ball, they got less yards than we did. So I am sure they were not very happy with their running game when they got home either, so credit both defenses for Saturday night. You start looking at another concern. We are not starting the games well. We are not consistently starting the games well. That is on either side of the ball. We wanted to stop Colorado, that's why we defer, we wanted to get the ball back, have good field position, and take it down and score. Colorado took it and went right down and scored and it gets them excited, and they are a young team who hasn't had a lot good happen for them, so we excited them. Then we got the ball and take it back down and kick a field goal. Then all of sudden we're back in forth and moving the ball, but field position is horrible. When we lost the blocked field goal, it killed us. Not only because you lost the points, but it has our offense, the rest of the half, starting inside our 15-yard line. So the field position was horrible the first half, as well, and part of that is our kicking game. It's been a long time since we have had a field goal blocked around here.
Colt played great as I said earlier. Jordan's just having an unbelievable year. The move he made before the deep touchdown right before the half. If you haven't watched that move, pull it up and watch it now. It is a big time move. The young man nearly falls down with a minute and half left and they're playing back and he still gets that wide open deep. He just made some phenomenal catches. Greg Smith had by best game at tight end. He only played 18 plays, but all 18 were productive and he is getting better. Adam Ulatoski had his best game, and it's funny when we had good pass protection and you don't run the ball well, everybody jumps on all the offensive linemen. Well we didn't play well on the offensive line, but Adam did. We need to give a guy credit who played maybe his best game, and we're proud of him.
On defense, Sergio played well, Muckelroy, the secondary, Sam Acho, just about everybody played well. The three guys that dominated the game were the three defensive tackles inside. Ben Alexander, Lamarr Houston, Kheeston Randall, played just as good as a group as I have ever seen them play and that was really exciting for us because we knew they were going to try to run the ball up the middle and keep it away from us. We are plus-three on turnover ratio, but Colt's had six interceptions and four of those have been tipped balls. So he hasn't been as fortunate there. We are taking pretty good care of the ball with ball security. We're intercepting more passes, but we are not stripping the ball enough. We did not strip a ball from Colorado on Saturday night and that's a concern for us that we need to get fixed. We said we were stopping the run, but again this will be our true test.
Saturday afternoon, if we can walk out of that stadium and say we stopped the run like we did last year, then we can say we're really good at stopping the run. Right now, there are still question marks. I think Saturday afternoon proves it. They will be as good at running the ball as anyone we have played. We need to run the ball better. We were very very poor with it Saturday night. There are plenty of reasons, but it doesn't matter. We don't have enough time, and it doesn't matter if we go over all the reasons, we've got to keep getting them fixed. Just blame me and move on with it. But we have to get some things fixed and we're looking at it.
Last year, we ran the ball for 167 yards against OU, and I think they had 47 yards. So we did some good things in that game last year. The thing I am saying is because you don't do something one week, doesn't mean it won't be better the next. I thought that probably the Colorado defense came in more tentatively than we did offensively because we were probably standing around thinking about next week and they weren't. They were thinking about this week, and it's true, there were probably some fans and some media that were doing the same. We didn't do well. It was not good. The kids are embarrassed over it, and I promise you, they are going back to work. The coaches are embarrassed over it, and they're going back to work. Everyone wants to put blame. You can put the blame anywhere you want it. It is like we have always said, "The blame is on me." Period. When you stop it, I look at it. I am in every offensive and defensive meeting. I hear every call, I see every kid, I recruited every kid, so don't give me credit for the good. Give the kids credit for the good and give me all the credit for the bad, and then we can move on and get that out of the way.
Our kickoff coverage has been very inconsistent. I thought we were getting better Saturday night, we did not do it well. We didn't kick it well and we didn't cover it well. Our punting was really inconsistent Saturday night. It was a concern. I thought we were doing better in that area. Where the rugby punt was a huge plus for us this time last year, it has not been consistently good, and we do look at it and see why it was not good Saturday night.
The OU game is back to being a national game. When we got here, it was more of a regional game again. It was important to the two states, but it had lost its luster. But now it's back and has always been important to the two states. When GameDay shows up, I think it will be the fourth time now that it has been their national game of the week. GameDay is there, all the national media is talking about the game and it's like it should be and it is something that both universities and both states should be very proud of because everybody that watches college football on Saturday at 11:00 is going to be watching this game. It is a game that affects a lot of other people and what they want to see about college football, not just the ratings and where things are, and I think that is very important as well. This is the 13th time, twice this year, that GameDay has covered us in our 12 years, which is a great compliment to our program and where it is on the national level. This game has a bowl game atmosphere to it in the middle of the season. It is very unique. It is one of the reasons that coaches and players go to these two schools to play in this game because most schools don't have a game like this especially at mid-season. If they have a huge rival game, it is usually at the end. It is a huge rival game for us at the mid-season.
We have the two best defenses in the country. It will be really fun to watch the two defenses play because they play well every week. We have two quarterbacks up for the Heisman. Colt is playing really well, and I think Sam broke a record passing Saturday afternoon against Baylor, so he back and he's full speed ahead. Colt's played well in this game every year. He likes this game. He is excited about it, and Sam threw five touchdown passes against us last year. Running yards are very very hard to get in this game anyway. You look at them; they're hard. It is very very difficult to do that. It is our home game this year, which simply means for you who are into recruiting that we get to give tickets to the kids that go, but since it is off our campus, and it's our home game, we do not to talk to the kids or the parents off of our campus. We can't see them at the game, we don't see them in Dallas, so you don't have the advantage of recruiting that you would like to have by being able to sit down and visit with the kids like you do for a home game, but it should be fun.
When you look at it, this is one that everybody gets excited about. You go back and people constantly ask me for what they did last year. All OU did was win all their games after they played us. They didn't do anything to us. It wasn't about them. Our problem was we lost to Tech, and we put the decision-making process back in the BCS computer ranking's hands and the Big 12 tiebreaker's hands. It had nothing to do with OU. We had a great game. It was a classic. You have to give them credit for the way they finished. Our kids lost one game, their kids lost one game, and it came down to outside sources that made that decision, not the two teams, the two schools or the two coaches. That shouldn't have anything to do with us at all and even if it was, we've talked about revenge a lot. What you want to do is get excited about playing in this game; you don't have to be mad.
On Sam Bradford's return: I thought Sam looked great. I got to see a little bit of the first half before I walked out on the field. He came out and looked just like he did last year. He didn't miss so many passes and moved the ball up and down the field. Gosh I saw he had nearly 400 yards passing, so I think it's the same Sam. I am glad. I think it is fair for two of the best quarterbacks in college history to play in this game together. It will fun to see those two guys compete again and them being friends is another story line.
On what he has learned about the team at this point in the season: We try to go back and look at last year and see where we are. Last year and this year's team, statistically, are about the same place. There's not much difference. It's funny, we scored exactly the same number of points this year that we scored last year. Exact. To the point. That's hard to imagine, now. Defensively, we are playing a little bit better than we did, especially at the pass. Offensively, we are throwing it better and we're not running it quite as well, but you're talking about yards difference. It is not a huge difference. What I have seen with last year's team, they were supposed to lose every game, everybody thought they were horrible, so they would beat them up before every game, so they came out and played so hard every week. This year's team, I think they've started some games like the level of competition. At the Wyoming game, they didn't start well. At the Colorado game, they didn't start well because they think they are pretty cool right now and that's a dangerous thing. I think that is part of it. Some people would think they are playing uptight some. Some people think they feel too good and are walking around a little cocky and someone hits them in the face and then they wake up. Those are the things you can't answer as coaches, and you are trying to find, and when you are dealing with so many players, you probably have some with a little of both. Some are playing a little too uptight and some are playing the other, but the other thing that is so obvious in our 12 years, is that the standard has changed. We beat somebody 38-14 and we're made. They leave happy. It's unbelievable around here. They go home 1-4 and they felt good and we're 5-0 and we're mad. Things have changed and it's my job to help the kids understand why that happened, and it's because they have won so many games.
On kick returns and anyone faster than Texas in the country: I am really excited about it. Honestly, we've always said every time you received a kickoff or a punt, you ought to be excited and have a chance to score and we can do that now. I was disappointed in our kickoff return team Saturday. Here they are, number three in the country in kicking off and covering and we're number two, and I think they got the better end of both of us. I thought they returned them better than we did, and I thought they covered them better than we did. That phase we were disappointed in. I thought a little bit of it was that Jordan had not been working with D.J. and a couple of times one of them got a little confused. On the one Jordan ran it back, D.J. was behind him, so we want to be in sync like we should be. Hopefully, since we did that on Saturday, we'll be better at the phase next Saturday because Marquise has just been more inconsistent in his judgment back there because he hasn't done this before. We're hoping to get to a point that they'll have to kick it to one of those two. They kept trying to kick it to Malcolm to get away from D.J., and we like to see D.J. touch it. He is really electric in those returns. When you can put pressure on the punter by blocking the punter, like Duane Akina and his group are doing right now, it leaves you really vulnerable for a punt return because they've got to make sure they have to get that ball off before they can start covering. I saw that happen. We pressured enough; we almost got three punts blocked Saturday night. We were close to three of them, and that's when you break it out for the punt return because the guys are hanging in there so much.
On slow starts: Oklahoma is different. They play up to the competition. There won't be any slapping this week. They'll be pumped. They're focused. Different week. Different game. I really think when you go back and look at it, what I have learned about our school and our place, the way the media covers us, and the way the fans get excited about the game, is the way I can judge whether our team is going to be excited about the game or not. Last week, there were probably six people here. This week, it is packed today. The whole message will be different today. When the players walk in today, they'll understand this is a different week. All our fans were asking them about OU last week, so really and truly, our job is to make sure we get them in the right places. They're going to be excited about this week and will be ready to go. Even though Missouri is playing well this week, it's a different week coaching next week, too now. When you get off of this one, and they're on such a high, both teams, and they're so excited and it means so much, next week, you have to go back to work, and that is a very very difficult Sunday and Monday, regardless, of what you do (win or lose). I was really excited about our kids last year after this game because they went right back to work and played good the next week. but that is a hard thing to do. The week before and the week after is very unique here, and the same is for OU.
I think everybody's got their own personalities, and everybody has to figure out what's the best way for them to play well and to try to win the game. That's the thing, and a lot of people can't use hate or revenge, A lot of people get excited about what's best to win the game. That's what the team needs to do. This one, they'll be excited about playing. It's fun. It sounds like the weather is going to be great. It's national TV, 90-plus thousand, GameDay. I mean all those things are what kids want, and that's what's exciting for us. I think sometimes, we think we are going to win a game, and we just go about our business. I don't think anybody on our sideline Saturday night thought that we had any chance to lose, and sometimes, I'd like to see more urgency. I thought last year's team at times had more urgency. This one can sit around and say `We'll be fine. We'll be fine." I want to say well pick it up. I am not fine. Get fine for me faster. I'm getting old.
On the offensive line and inconsistencies: I can't go into that here. It is too long, too big. When I give opinions, everybody is going to give nine more different ones. Probably, when you look at it, Chris Hall, played really sore and limped and fought through it and didn't get to practice at all during the week off. He's so tough that he probably played and probably shouldn't have, but he did. It really hurt Michael Huey, who's had a bad ankle and been playing with it all year, so David Snow's been playing both places. Protection's been great, but running has been inconsistent. Our numbers look good, but our numbers haven't been good. We play four backs, five backs, and now two of them. We don't know. They'll be day to day. Vondrell and Tre, and you spend like four weeks trying to get them ready to play and ready to go, and now they might be out for the game. All those things are excuses and you line up, you try to figure out how to run it better, and whoever you've got, you put in there and you have to run it better. We just have to do a better job with it. I think sometimes we make mistakes in games that we think we are going to win because we don't want to show anything, and we're pretty vanilla, and we just want to win the game, but we've got those two or three that you have to win when you get to this level. So sometimes, we just think we are going to run up and down the field because we do all the time, we score a bunch of points and when you don't, you're in shock. We ran four or five different runs Saturday. We didn't do much at all and should have done more. We were just trying to make an emphasis to get back to work, to get better, get tougher, and felt like we were going to win the game and we did, but I think in some cases, it is good that you struggle some. All you will help me coach the offensive line this week. I mean it really helps.