Barnett: Buffs Not Discouraged After Miami Loss

Gary Barnett addressed members of the media Tuesday and talked about the team's missed opportunity in Miami, and looked forward to the Buffs' conference-opening opponent, Oklahoma State. Inside, quotes from the press conference.

Opening Comments
Gary Barnett: To recap the Miami game a little bit — we really see it as a missed opportunity, more so than we did Saturday. Those of you that were there know how I felt about it then.

It was a missed opportunity for us. We had to play better. You can't have those penalties and turnovers in a game like that.

Miami played good solid football. And we had some guys play particularly well. I was proud of our offensive line. That team was leading the country in sacks and we did not give up a sack in that game. That's a sign of our depth. We don't have a lot of it, but those guys, they really did a nice job. I thought Dave Borbely did a great job of getting them ready. Part of it was a product of having two weeks to prepare for it.

We all looked at the film afterwards and just want to shoot ourselves for all the mistakes we made and calls that we screwed up. We had five penalties I think on special teams, seven on defense, and another five on offense. I think we had three that they didn't take.

We've got to fix that. And they are fixable. I'm going to take care of the penalties. We started taking care of those last night. We're going to take care of those and get that fixed.

But I really was impressed with how hard our kids played. I was impressed with our conditioning. We were in great shape for that game. The heat was never an issue for us. We were more of an issue for us than anything else in that game.

We look at the film and we just say, ‘doggonit! What an opportunity that we blew down there.'

But overall I was pleased with the way our kids played and conducted themselves and got themselves ready for the game.

Clint O'Neal particularly had a nice game on offensive line. Our receivers did a nice job of catching the ball. For the most part. We had four drops, two of them at critical times. You have four drops and three turnovers in that kind of game, it's hard to win.

Looking ahead to (Oklahoma State). A year ago we really felt like we were ready for this game. And we had the kind of game we had at Miami. We had a lot of mistakes in the (OSU) game here. A lot of really foolish mistakes. They got up on us fast. If you remember, we came out in the second half and got a touchdown, but it was called back. It would have put us right back in the game. We never could get back into it.

Hopefully, that kind of game is over for us this year because we had it last week. I think our guys came out of Miami really with a lot of confidence about how good we might be able to be. They all realize that we can't make those mistakes. But they feel good about where they think they can go and what they think they can do.

Oklahoma State is 3-0. They're probably a lot like us — it's hard to assess how good we both are. But they've played three teams that not a lot of people know about. And I'm sure (OSU is) wondering how good they are.

We've played a couple teams that people know about and we're 2-1. You don't necessarily walk out of the Miami game and say, ‘Boy, we're a good football team.' But you think that we might be able to become one.

This becomes a big game. It's the first of three against Southern (division) teams. I said earlier, whoever wins our division is going to have to play well on the road and they're going to have to play well in the South. What this game represents is both of those.

It's a game that is critical for both teams to get off on the right foot in conference.

I do think it's hard for us to assess how good they really are. They do a lot of things on defense. They do a lot of different things on offense. This isn't a team you really get your arms around as to what their personality is yet. They just show you so many different things on both sides of the ball that you can't categorize them as one or the other.

They're getting in and out of all formations; they're doing shotgun, they're doing the option out of the shotgun, they're lining up in the I, they're lining up with three tight ends, with four wide receivers. It's not a team that you can really assess really well.

They have a young quarterback who's a real talented kid, Bobby Reid. He's a lot like Vince Young. Same kind of size. Probably throws the ball a little bit better than Vincent, but doesn't run it as well yet. He's just a young guy, a redshirt freshman. You can see he's an extremely talented youngster.

They've had some guys leave their team. Specifically their running back. It's hard to tell how good they are at running the football because of who they've played.

Defensively, they're a solid defense. They're much like Colorado State. If we were to categorize them, I'd say they're like Colorado State in the kind of pressure they like to put on you; the way they like to put pressure on you with the zone blitzes.

Special teams – it's hard to say how good they are because of who they've played (Montana State, Florida Atlantic and Arkansas State). They've returned a couple kickoffs for big plays, and then after that they've sort of been non-descript.

You get three films and they're of the three teams they've played. So you've got to discount who they've played and just look at the production and figure you're playing a pretty good football team.

We'll go back and look at last year's film and realize what we did to ourselves there and play on that a little bit. But this game's about fixing the mistakes we made last week and getting better in those areas. Then getting on the road and getting our first win.

Q: Can you compare Oklahoma State's team from last season to what they do this year?
GB:
Last year, a much more conventional football team, much more conventional I-back team. When we had this press conference a year ago I said this game's going to look like two old-fashioned Big Eight teams playing each other. That's what they were. Now, some of (what they do) is no-huddle, some of it isn't.

You're going to see a little bit of everything. I think that whole process is tying to make you minimize what you do against them; get you in as much base so you can cover everything and be prepared for everything. We've got to sort through what is fluff and what is real. Who they really are and what they're really good at, and then find a way to stop them.

Q: Does it make you feel old to coach against a guy (Mike Gundy) who played against you when you were an assistant at Colorado?
GB:
Nah, that doesn't make me feel old. (laughter) There's things that make me feel old, but that's not one of them. Hagan makes me feel old.

Q: Do you sense there's any hangover with the team from the Miami game?
GB:
No, in fact if anything, I think we got a boost of energy from it. Sometimes you go down there wondering how good you are. I think we said we'd see how good we were in that game. I think the kids came away with a lot of confidence.

That was not a moral victory, but it was an encouraging performance.

Q: How healthy can your offensive line be this week?
GB:
We'll get Brian Daniels back. Jack Tipton's probably out. Tyler Polumbus we'll get back; he'll be a little bit better. We'll be in just about the same boat we were last week with the numbers.

Q: In terms of the penalties, how can you coach to cut down on those?
GB:
We're going to do some things. I'm going to take care of the penalties. When you line up offsides, that's a stupid penalty. You've got to eliminate the penalties that come from a lack of attention to detail, or discipline. Some of them you can't. Ryan Walters' penalty (a personal foul after he was called for hitting Kyle Wright. Wright slid after Walters left his feet), what do you do?

But lining up offsides, you can do something about. Hitting the quarterback late when it isn't necessary, you can do something about. Lining up on the ball when you're on the punt team you can do something about. Lining up in the backfield when you're the tight end and you shouldn't be, you can do something about.

That's just attending to details and discipline.

Q: Will there be extra conditioning this week?
GB:
Let's just put it this way: We're going to take care of those penalties. We're going to fix those penalties.

Q: Was there ever any though of putting in James Cox when Joel Klatt suffered the toe injury, then it looked like he got dinged in the head?
GB:
Steve Willard came to me and said that Joe's sprained his toe, we're going to look at it and see where he is. Then he came back and said he feels good, he feels fine. Had he said, he's going to try to go, then I probably would've, but he said he feels good to go. So we did not think about it at that point in time.

If we ever get to a position where somebody says they're not sure, then we don't hesitate to put somebody else in, no matter what the position.

Q: That field goal by Mason Crosby (a 58-yarder), is that one of the most impressive kicks you've seen?
GB:
You know, it probably was. But I was so disgusted at that point in time I couldn't even really celebrate how spectacular it really was. After the year's over you look back and see he made a 58-yarder at sea level — which Mr. Plati has noted is the (third-longest) field goal at sea level (without using a tee) in the history of football. I tell you when you really notice it. When we get the film, we get the end zone copy. And you can see where it goes over the bar and hits the back of the net. It's another 10 yards good.

At the time, you're just …

Q: Can your offense stretch the field?
GB:
We've got to get our tight ends to stretch it the right way. We didn't get our tight ends down the field very well in this game. That's one of the first things that we come back and look and go, ‘We should have tried to throw the ball deeper to Joe Klopfenstein or to Quinn Sypniewski.' We dropped one that was a pretty good throw down there.

In that game it was going to be hard to get the ball down the field, just because there was a speed issue there.

We're struggling with it. We don't have great speed at the receiver position. I don't think that there's anybody that's going to get a lot faster, soon.

Q: Obviously, you want to win every game. But is there a graduation in intensity now that you're in conference?
GB:
It's natural when you play in a conference, and a conference that's stable through the years, there is. Everything elevates when you get to the conference. But I think Miami helped us. Everybody got up to play Miami. We got up to play Miami like we would get up to play Oklahoma State. So this isn't like a huge jump that we have to make emotionally to get ready for this game. Miami helped get us ready for this conference.

Q: What is it you're worried about most from Oklahoma State's offense?
GB:
I think their receivers are really good. They all run really well. I think Bobby Reid is a huge talent. I just don't want him to grow up yet. I want him to mature three or four weeks down the road.

Q: Is there one player on defense that stands out?
GB:
Their free safety, No. 23 (Jamie Thompson) is a big-time player. And hey have a corner, No. 4 (Daniel McLemore), both of those two guys are exceptional football players.

Q: How did you grade out your secondary against Miami's speed?
GB:
Really, pretty well. Gerett Burl played well. They tried to throw on him twice and he covered it. We gave up the out and up (touchdown to Sinorice Moss). That was just a matter of discipline. If Simsy uses his eyes like he's taught to do, that never happens. But he got lazy with his eyes and got beat.

Then they made a couple nice catches. Moss made a couple nice catches. I mean, he rally went up for a couple balls. But we didn't have anybody running free accept for that one play.

I think we've done better, but we played a pretty good team.

Q: Who do you replace Jack Tipton with in the lineup?
GB:
Brian Daniels. We get Daniels back and we lose Tipton. It's a trade off.

Q: How important is this next stretch of three games?
GB:
In football you've got so few games that it's one long stretch. You throw in that the next three are in the South, and all the attention that's been brought last year about how much better the South is than the North – you get caught up in that a little bit.

But I think just the fact that you want to get off to the right start in conference. These all count. It's not like just the North games count, these all count. So, if you want to go play in the Big 12 championship game, then this is one of those games that you probably have to win. You don't know that, but you sure feel that way going in.

Q: Does the fact that they don't have a strong identity on offense yet present more of a challenge? Does that make them a little more dangerous? Or not necessarily?
GB:
All of the above. That's why you just want to sort out what you want to do and not get caught up in everything. This is one of those teams that makes you focus on what you do, and what you do best. Which isn't bad. Sometimes that's the right thing to do anyway.

This makes you go back and be who you are, and then make them figure out who they are.

Q: How would you grade your defense so far this year when compared to last year?
GB:
I think we're a totally different team than we were a year ago. And it starts with the secondary. We're not giving up the yards, we're not giving up the big plays. We're tackling back there. I think we're playing really well back there.

We're a much better underneath coverage team than we were a year ago. That's what we spent all spring working on. I think we're night and day from where we were a year ago.


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