It was just an unbelievable atmosphere. Even though we tried to prepare for the crowd noise, it was above and beyond anything that we could prepare for. But our preparation did allow us to operate fairly efficiently in that environment.
It was a great college football game and a great college environment. I remain really proud of the way our guys played. Proud of their effort, proud of the heart they played with. They held their poise, they did everything that we asked them to do from that standpoint. It was just a great college football game.
A&M executed really well.
I thought we moved the bal well, thought we had a good plan, thought we were creative, made plays. And then we missed some plays.
We had 19 missed tackles on defense, we had 10 penalties, we had five dropped passes and two turnovers.
When you look at A&M, I don't know how many missed tackles they had, but it didn't feel like it was a lot. But they only had five penalties, and they had no drops and no turnovers.
A team that plays like that is hard to beat. You put them in the atmosphere they're in – the 12th man was definitely a factor. We had two or three penalties that were the result of crowd noise, directly.
But they're playing error-free football right now. We had a chance (for an interception). They threw one to us and we dropped it. That drive ended up in a field goal. And then the ball was on the ground in a fumbled exchange once, and a ball was up in the air on a pass that got deflected. Terrence Murphy ended up catching it.
There were brief moments for us to get a turnover in the game, but we weren't able to take advantage of it.
For them to go 85 yards in 105 seconds the way they did at the end of that game, and take it to overtime, was a real tribute to their program and their crowd.
We had to make a tough decision in overtime because, normally, strategy tells you to play defense first. But our defense had just been on the field for that entire drive, and they were pretty gassed. But we went with that strategy, and got just what we wanted. We held them to a field goal, and we were in perfect position.
Had we been able to hang on to the ball we'd have had first and 10 on the 11-yard line. That would have been about as good a position as you can be in. We could have gotten a first down, and we were moving the ball pretty well. We had great resolve.
It was just one of those unfortunate things that happens to you in this game. As Fran said after the game, that's a hard way to lose. Neither team deserves to lose, but one of ‘em has to. We ended up being that team.
Now what we have to do is get ourselves back together. I think that we really gained a lot of confidence. It was certainly our best game. It was certainly played in a hostile environment, and it was certainly the best team we've played so far. To go toe to toe and actually have several opportunities to win the game, it actually boosts our confidence and tells us how good we can be.
Now the test is for us to be able to carry that over to the next game and to an even better opponent, only at home. As we get ready for Texas, the problems that Texas brings on offense, and in the run game, they're just so effective with the quarterback and Cedric Benson, the tailback. We've got to find a way to control the running game and force them to throw the football.
Only one team has been able to do that, and that was Oklahoma (Texas' only loss this season). I feel good about our chances; we've been playing better. But we've got to tackle better. We can't miss 19 tackles and expect to win the game; we can't have 10 penalties, five drops and two turnovers. Especially, if the other team is not going to do that.
Offensively, we're playing against a team that's really good against the pass. We're trying to be balanced, trying to bring our passing game along. We feel like that's an area we're really improving in; timing, receivers making plays, that sort of thing.
We've got to find a way to mix it up and stay balanced. We've got to stay somewhat creative in the scheme.
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Texas has seven returners on defense. They're really big and physical. Derrick Johnson is as good a football player as I've seen playing defense in a long, long time.
Special teams for us against Texas A&M, we really weren't special. We'd been pretty consistent there. But we had a bad snap and missed a field goal. Two out of three punts were good, but not all three. Then we didn't kick the ball off the way we had. We had a big play put on us on punt return. We've got to shore that up, and have a great team effort in this game.
We've got to be more consistent across the board and eliminate penalties. Hopefully, playing at home will be an advantage for us. I do think that our guys are not hung up on that loss at A&M. They took it really hard after the game, but they also watched the film and realize how good they played and how good they can be. I think that's where we are right now.
Q: Can you talk about the execution of the offense and how you keep that going?
Gary Barnett: I don't know that there's only way of guaranteeing those things. The only thing you can do is show the kids as close to reality (what the opponent's defense is like) in practice, have them look at the right amount of film to where they know what they're looking at. And then it comes down to concentration and focus in the game itself.
None of those things are guarantees that that will allow you to execute. But we did execute better than we did the week before.
You know, execution; that word has a lot of things in it. It means knowing who to block, blocking it right, it means knowing who to throw the ball to, having the ball get caught, blocking for them after that. There's a lot of things that go into that, and no one knows it any better than coaches.
Part of it is being consistent, part of it is being comfortable doing those sorts of things. That's where I see our receivers being more comfortable in seeing different coverages and understanding what they're doing on different routes. How to break a tackle. You can't really scrimmage enough anymore to where you get experience at getting the ball stripped or breaking a tackle or those sorts of things. So you have to do it game by game.
Every game that we play, we come closer to being a team that can execute more consistently.
Q: Will you face another team that has as much talent as Texas?
GB:This year? No. I'd say this will be the most talented team that we'll play. Not only that, but they're deep. They're still pretty young on defense, they're still only starting two seniors on defense. Offensively, they're a little older. Btu this isn't a senior-laden team.
There's probably no one in the country that year in and year out has the talent that Texas has. That's a hard management issue. Too many really great player is a hard thing to manage. I know just in talking with Mack, the things that come with it. You won't see a better-looking team when they run onto the field. And a deeper team in talent.
Derrick Johnson is just a great, great, great, great football player.
Q: Does their running game differ schematically from Oklahoma State's?
GB: Yeah, Oklahoma State's an I team with a fullback, more traditional. If you remember we talked before that game, and I said ‘This is like an old Big Eight game.'
Texas is running the spread offense, they're in the shotgun and look a lot like Missouri, but they're going to run the ball a little more effectively than Missouri. They spread you out and just let Benson find the seams, or Young find the seams.
Young is just a great looking athlete. He can run and he's really strong. I doubt that he's any faster than the quarterback we just played. Reggie McNeal was the difference in that game, totally.
Q: Is Vincent Young at a point where he can beat a team through the air if you take away the run?
GB:I don't know. I don't know that they've had to face that issue. Nobody other than Oklahoma has really stopped them in the running game. So everybody else that they've played, they've been able to run the ball so effectively that it's never gotten to that issue. They've been able to mix in enough pass with the run so that you really can't sit up there and play so tight in the run game.
Q: Is it hard to go to work and not know what you're going to get out of your offense on from Saturday to Saturday?
GB:To some extent that can be true. You know that you've got a young team, and they're getting better. You get excited about watching them get better.
While you don't know, it's sort of fun not knowing. Well, I don't know if "fun" is the right word. It's interesting. But you know they're going to come to work. They're all eager to work and learn, and that's what's great about these guys. This team is that way.
We never have a day where everybody doesn't come to work and come to get better.
Q: Is the biggest question facing your team whether you can play at the level you did last week from here on out?
GB:Once you play at that level, you know what it takes. Now we've got to do that again; we've got to be able to throw the right switches during the week to get to where we can do it again. At least we got to that level. We could have not gotten to that level, then we'd really be frustrated. Since we got there against a good team, we know we can get there again.
Q: How pleased were you with the shotgun and how much will you use that Saturday?
GB:I was pleased with the shotgun. I thought we were able to do something they weren't prepared for and didn't anticipate from us. And do it fairly effectively. It really helped us on third down. Our third down conversions were right at 50 percent in this game, and when you're doing that, you're doing pretty good. Our goal is 42 percent.
Quarterback Joel Klatt found success out of the shotgun formation vs. Texas A&M last week.
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I thought Joel Klatt had a good feel for it. It also reduced their rush down to their front four guys. As you look at them statistically, all their sacks came from the secondary. We sort of knew that if we could get them in a shotgun and empty (backfield) situation, that we weren't going to get a blitz from the secondary. We felt we had a decent chance of blocking (the four guys up front).
Q: What was Mason Crosby doing differently on his kickoffs?
GB:In my opinion, Mason was back in Texas making sure that everybody had a ticket.
But Mason told me that his steps were off. They were off from the beginning and he had trouble getting them going. The field goal he missed was a low snap that Nick Holz did a great job of getting down. But when Mason's really on and his timing's right, he probably still would've kicked that (through) even though it was a bad snap.
Q: What impact have the recruiting restrictions made so far in recruiting?
GB:I don't know that we'll know that for a while, until we get a chance to work through it and have some experiences in it. It's way too early to have any kind of evaluation.
Q: What's your mindset on staying in the Big 12 North race and postseason?
GB:Our mindset is really on Texas. But as crazy as it seems with what's going on in the North, if we can find a way to win this game, then we're back in a little bit of control of our own destiny. But we've got to win this game to do that.
Who knows where this (North race) is going to go. At least everybody else is having issues. It's not a done deal on this side. You got four games left on the regular schedule. In order to be in it, you've got to win all four of them.
In a lot of ways, (Colorado has traditionally) been a team that's gotten better as the year goes on. We generally play our best football at the end of the year. That's always our goal, and if that's true with this team — we'll have to wait and see if that's true — this game becomes critical. If we can find a way to get by Texas, then if we are truly getting better, it sets up decently for us.
Q: What do you think of the college overtime rule?
GB:I think it's great for the college game. There isn't anything more exciting than that. I like it, and I'd like instant replay. Not that instant replay has anything to do with that game.
Q: Any change in what Texas does defensively under defensive coordinator Greg Robinson?
GB: Yeah, they're a lot different than they were. They're simpler, and yet more fundamentally sound. Never out of position, never give up the big play. Bend don't break, and they're very physical. They run really well. They're like playing Oklahoma. Good players, nothing complicated. Just line up and beat you.
Q: Is there enough film of them this year on Texas' defense under Robinson, or do you go back and look at Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos tape?
GB:Not to say we haven't looked at some of that, but most of it has been teams with similar opponents, that sort of thing.
Q: How difficult a transition is that to go from the pros to college?
GB:The transition is in teaching time. In the NFL you've got them all morning, and you practice early afternoon, and view the film after practice. In college you get an hour a day to teach them, and maybe an hour a day to coach them. You can't be as complicated, you can't be as sophisticated. That may not be a bad thing, but you also can't work on fundamentals as long.
I think it's a big difference. And then recruiting — I don't know what Mack's doing there. I don't think he's ever had his coordinators recruit.