Just to spend a minute on the Missouri game, I was really impressed with our players, how hard they played. How poised they were, how convinced and confident they were that they were going to win the game, even down to the last seconds of the game.
They invested a lot in that game, and I was really impressed with the way they handled themselves. It hurt ‘em to lose that game.
We played really well on defense, but we gave up one really big play where tripped all over each other. It was third and 11 and they throw an out rout that should have been tackled, and the ball punted. But it ends up being a touchdown.
That's sort of the way the game went for us. We couldn't make a play when we needed to. We had our tight end open twice for big plays. Once time we sacked, and the other time Joel (Klatt) over throws him and it ends up being an interception. We had Dusty Sprague wide open down the boundary on a double move and the ball gets batted.
We just had a number of plays that we needed to make in a game like that and we didn't make them. All the way down to that last one in the end zone. You look at that one 10 times and you still have differing opinions. But it seems to me if you go up and you have the ball in your possession and your feet come down, at worst case it's a simultaneous catch, which goes to the offense. But it didn't get called that way, and I certainly could see how someone could make that call. But that's the kind of play we needed to make and we just couldn't quite make it.
I was disappointed for our players as much as they invested in that game. And to be so close to winning it.
Now we've got to regroup and we've got to put that behind us. It's not as easy to do sometimes as you think. I don't know that I'm concerned, but we've got to put it behind us.
Tuesday's practice is usually the first time out with pads on, and you feel better and put it behind you. That's what I anticipate with our team. The good thing is you get another chance to play. I know our guys are really anxious to play.
We're playing a team that is very physical. They have really perfected the art of running the football. They do it out of two tights, a flanker and a 260-pound fullback, and they just line it up. There isn't much doubt that's getting the ball. You've got to gear up for a game like that.
The quarterback (Donovan Woods), I think he threw it 22 times in the last game, which is more than he threw it in the previous three games. So they're starting to get him to feel comfortable throwing the football.
They've got tremendous receivers. D'Juan Woods has as much talent as anybody at receiver. Now if they can find a way to get the ball to them in the air as well as running it, it's really going to be quite a threat for everybody in our conference.
Defensively, they're in a 4-2-5 scheme, which we're somewhat familiar with. We saw it a little bit last week and we'll see it again before we finish playing. We've got to solve that for our offense. We weren't able to solve it last week. Usually it comes down to a couple guys making some plays.
We've got to find a way to increase our first down percentages. We were really bad on first down last week, especially in the second half. Really, it makes your play calling tough when you're behind on second down. It was run/pass/pass and we weren't gaining enough with the run to help ourselves.
So we've got to get better on first down. It's a combination of calls, and execution. And we will. You always achieve what you emphasize, and we'll emphasize that this week. We're looking forward to getting it done.
I felt like in special teams last week, we were just OK. We weren't anything special. We had been really solid the first few games, better than our opponents. We need to get back to that.
It's a key game for us, obviously. Every game is big now when you're in conference. With us being one behind, we need some help with somebody with Missouri. But we can't worry about that. We've got to take care of ourselves. This game is critical for us, but fortunately it's at home. What we've got to do is get over the hangover of last week's loss.
I expect a very physical game from Oklahoma State. They're playing with a lot of confidence. They've got plus-13 in the take-away column, which is unbelievable. They've only lost one turnover. We're minus-one; we're not real good, but we're not really bad. But that plus-13 is quite a number. So we've got to take care of the football this week.
Q: How do you assess Oklahoma State's defense?
Gary Barnett: Defensively, the strength is their secondary. They're really, really good in the secondary. Never out of position, run really well and tackle. They're not a big team. They're fundamentally sound. One thing they do is they get a lot of people to the ball, they use their speed to get to the ball. Things aren't open very long.
Q: What does it mean that they may not play with Darrent Williams?
GB: They play a lot of guys. I don't know if Williams is for sure out. I'd hat to lose a first-team all-Big 12 player, but either one of the guys that they'll replace him with if he's out have started or played. It's not like they're playing rookies back there.
Q: How much does their defensive line concern you?
GB: We've got to play better than we did against Missouri up front. You've got to go into every game figuring that you're going to block them. Otherwise, we'll get ourselves in a situation like we were at Washington State, where we were so help and protection conscious that we didn't have much offense to call.
We've got to go in assuming that we're going to block them, and then within the scheme give our guys as much help as we can.
Q: Do you expect they'll continue to try to throw the ball more and more each game?
GB: Sure. I know Coach Miles doesn't want to be one-dimensional. They're going to try to become more two-dimensional. As you go through the conference, you need to be. Although in 2002, we never really got the passing game going. We were pretty much a lot like Oklahoma State is right now and we were able to survive it and end up in the championship game. There's still a chance, as physical as they're playing. I don't know that we're going to play anybody that's as physical as they are. The nature of their offense might give them an advantage in their (division), lining up and being able to play like that. Few people can really get ready for it because they don't do it themselves.
Q: Have the teams they've played tried to force them to throw?
GB: No, I think the teams that they've played they've pretty much just beaten them up. I watched the UCLA game, and they just marched right down the field, they didn't even try to throw the ball. They tried to throw more against Iowa State than anybody, but part of that is just trying to bring the quarterback along.
He throws it up and if he just gets it in an area, those guys are going to catch it. I'm sure they're telling him, ‘Just give our guy a chance and he'll make a play.'
Q: Have you played anybody this year who runs it as effectively as OSU?
GB: No. We haven't played anybody that can line up and run it right at you as well. I thought the back at Missouri played hard. We couldn't really get a shot on him; I thought he played really well.
But Vernand Morency and the big fullback and when they line up with two tight ends and try to mash you, we won't see anybody this year like that.
Oklahoma State running back Vernand Morency is averaging 178 yards per game.
Q: What makes Morency a good runner?
GB: He's got great balance. He made a tremendous run last week. He's got good vision, he's strong, he's 5-10 and about 215. He cuts well, but he's also physical. He can go inside or outside. He's pretty versatile from that standpoint.
Q: Joel Klatt was saying the offense needs to find consistency. How do you do that?
GB: I don't know. Consistency is one of those things that everybody chases, and nobody's got a patent on or map on how to get there. It happens because you work at it. That's the one thing in achieving consistency. It's got to be important to you. And you've got to keep emphasizing it.
Consistency isn't just one thing, it's a combination of guys making plays, getting guys in the right place to make plays. It's not just our players, it's our coaches, and knowing the combination that creates consistency.
Q: Are you confident you have the tools to be consistent on offense? Or is that still a question?
GB: Right now we have not been able to get somebody deep and be able to stretch the field. Right now we're a team that has to be really consistent in order to score. That means that we almost have to be perfect.
We have enough guys that with the right package we can create that. But it takes everybody operating at a high level to do it.
Q: Do you have what you'd consider a deep threat?
GB: We've got some guys I think that in practice are able to shake free and get deep. We haven't demonstrated in a game the ability to get deep yet. Either when we had guys open deep we didn't get them the ball or the ball was batted. We'll continue to try to push the ball down the field if we can.
Q: How would you assess Klatt's play so far?
GB: Not as consistent as he'd like it to be. A lot of the way I feel about it is based on how he feels about it.
Q: What areas does he have to shore up?
GB: If we go back to what he said after the Washington State game, he needs to let the game come to him. He tries to do a lot.
Q: Is that something you saw in him last year?
GB: No. I think last year he was trying to work in and do his job. He had a couple veteran guys around him at receiver that helped him a lot. But now I think he feels like he's got the weight of the world on him. And he doesn't. We've got to get him to where he understands that and feels that.
Q: How did the veteran wide receivers help him in that way?
GB: They were always in the right play. They always made the big play. Anything that was thrown out there, they went and got. Just nuances of knowing when to break off a rout and when not to.
It's huge having a couple guys out there that have been through the wars. Like that play that D.J. Hackett made against CSU. He goes up and catches the ball, gets hammered, stays on his feet and scores a touchdown. This year, that ball might not have been caught and it probably wouldn't have ended up a touchdown.
That' just gives you a whole lot of confidence when you know a guy's going to make a play. Right now Joel's trying to get the guys in the right spot; he's got to let them come along.
Q: Under what circumstances would you hold Bobby Purify out of the game?
GB: If either he or the doctors tell us he can't play.
Q: What if the doctors say he can't, but Bobby says he can?
GB: Then he can't play.
Q: How effective can Bobby be with that type of injury running the ball?
GB: I don't know, but we wouldn't play him unless he was effective.
Q: After looking at the film, how did J.J. Billingsley play?
GB: Billingsley played pretty well, He made a lot of tackles, and played pretty well in the run defense.
Q: Do you expect he'll get more snaps this week?
GB: I don't know where that's going to go this week for sure.
Q: You're last in conference in defense, but first in red zone defense? Is that fortitude, circumstance? GB: That's a good question. I don't feel a personality that says, ‘OK, we're in the red zone, we've got to get better.' I wish I could. You want to be good in the red zone, obviously. But to say that there's a glaze that comes over their eyes when the other team gets down there – I can't say that.