Klatt Talks About Oklahoma Matchup

On Tuesday, among other things Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt spoke about the challenges the Buffalo offense will face in Saturday's Big 12 title game.

Just over three years ago, Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt was sitting in the stands with a friend watching the Buffs pummel Nebraska 62-36. Klatt was playing baseball in the San Diego Padres farm system at the time, and, energized by what he saw from the Buffs, turned to his friend and said, "I'm tired of baseball." His friend's advice: Why don't you quit?

Klatt did just that, but not before traveling to watch the Buffs beat Texas in Dallas in the 2001 Big 12 Championship game. By the next summer, however, he was a member of the Colorado football team.

He'll be at the helm Saturday when CU tries to knock off another Big 12 South opponent in a title game where no one gives them a chance.

Klatt spoke with the media Tuesday.

Q: Does playing in this game validate everything you went through this year?
It definitely feels good to get to this point and reach one of our goals. But this isn't the end goal. We're not playing this game, just to get here. We're going to prepare as hard as we can and play as hard as we can Saturday night to try to win the Big 12 title.

Granted, we're playing a tremendous football team Saturday, but just getting there isn't the end goal.

Q: Do you like the fact everyone outside your locker room doesn't give you much of a chance?
It's really been like that the whole season. Ever since January, and spring football the only guys we could count on were the guys in the locker room and the coaching staff. That's all we really had from the start. So it's really no change for us to be underdogs and be looked down upon a little bit.

Q: Can you go into the game kind of relaxed because the pressure's on Oklahoma?
They have a tremendous amount of pressure on them, but we also have a lot of pressure on us just because we know the type of football team they are. We're going to have to play a complete, physical type of game. If we do that, we might have a chance to win.

Q: What was it like Saturday to watch the Missouri-Iowa State game?
It was pretty much the worst experience ever. I can't stand sitting there watching football games that determine outcomes for my team. I was going t crazy.

Fortunately, Missouri pulled it out. But congratulations to Iowa State. They had a tremendous year, and it was a great job by their coaching staff.

Q: As good as the Oklahoma defense is, they've given up some plays in the secondary. Are there opportunities available there?
They're available, but at the same time they do a tremendous job closing in the secondary. They tackle extremely well. That's kind of a staple for Oklahoma's defense. They hit hard and tackle really well; they don't give up many yards after contact. So teams that have moved the ball effectively on them have really had to strain and execute well.

Q: Do you expect them to give you some of the same looks that Texas gave you?
When I watch them, they're very different from Texas. Texas tended to rely very heavily on their superior athletes. You know, Derrick Johnson and guys like that. Oklahoma does a little bit more with their scheme to try and get you instead of just sitting there in a vanilla look.

Q: Did you watch the OU-Oklahoma State game on tape?
I haven't' watched that one yet. I have watched quite a bit of the other ones. I've watched Nebraska, Kansas State, our game from last year, their Texas game.

I'm sure I'll get to that game, though. What they do is they leave their safeties back a lot, which leaves holes in the deep seams. I think that's where you see people attack them. But the teams that have done that have played extremely well. You've got to play well to get those plays against Oklahoma. They're too fast to just run down the middle of the field on.

Q: What you say about Gary Barnett's character and how he has kept the team focused despite what's gone on the past year?
I'm extremely happy for him with the accolades he's gotten this year. He did a tremendous job, first of all personally with what he did as a man through the whole thing this offseason. He was standing strong in his beliefs and character. What he did as a man I just respect tremendously.

Then, when he was brought back (from administrative leave), he did a tremendous job with taking the reins and not steering us a different way. Our team had found an identity that was our own before he came back. What he did a great job of was just guiding the ship rather than turning it totally around.

Q: What's it like to be a student-athlete at CU right now? The cross country teams won the NCAA titles, the volleyball team is in the NCAAs, you all are in the Big 12 game.
It's a tremendous time to be in this athletic department and in this building. I know we're all proud of our cross country team and what they've done the past few years. Our volleyball team has been very good all year; our basketball teams are going to have good years; our women's soccer team did a tremendous job.

We're really doing a great job in this athletic department. I think the leadership has been tremendous. I'm very sad for Mr. Tharp and what happened to him. I thought he did a tremendous job.

I know that just walking around on campus, even the regular students feel a tremendous sense of pride with what the athletic department has been able to do.

After last spring, this fall was much needed and well timed.

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