Gary Barnett: Last time we met in here I told you that when we took the field (vs. Kansas), in the locker room I knew that we were not ready to play Kansas. Just the obvious was true today. There wasn't any question when we went into the locker room after warm-ups and going through warm-ups – there wasn't any question we were going to play a heckuva football game.
We had great focus. I overheard one of the coaches (Coach Shawn Simms) when our kids came onto the field, he said, ‘There isn't any way we're losing this game.
Sometimes you know. We had a great week. We had a great focused week. Defensively, I thought we had a great plan. WE mixed it up enough, and kept the ball in front of us. Brad Smith is a great player, but I thought our defense played outstanding. We've got to shore up some things in the middle on coverages, but we had pretty decent pass rush. We didn't lose our lanes.
Offensively, we went right after them in the pass game. Pretty much took what they gave us. I thought Stephone Robinson is really going to help our receiving corps, with a couple things we're trying to do. A couple of guys really stepped up. And to see Lawrence Vickers run like that was pretty sweet. And I thought Byron Ellis played an especially good game.
Overall, everything was about the way you could ask for it.
Q: It seems like Vickers showed his versatility even more today.
GB: Lawrence is one of those guys that just loves to play the game. He's on punt return and he didn't want out of that. He wanted to be in the game every snap. You love an attitude like that. He's got a great passion for the game.
Q: Is this about as good as you're team has played for 60 minutes?
GB: I think this is probably as good as we've played. We played pretty good vs. A&M. We let them get a couple scores there at the end when our twos ran (vs. Texas A&M). But I think this is as good a game as we've played.
Q: What about the lack of penalties (four)?
GB: That was refreshing. In fact I called timeout (at the end) rather than take a delay of game because I didn't want another penalty on our record. I felt like we probably cleaned it up last week, and this week was even better.
Q: Is there a reason for it?
GB: I didn't have a reason why it happened, so I don't know if I can give you a reason why (fewer penalties) happened. We've been paying a lot of attention to it. But sometimes it's just the way the game goes.
Q: Could Hugh Charles have played any more than he did?
GB: Hugh tweaked (his ankle) in warm-ups, and then he tweaked it again on the one play. So we just kept him out of the game. We felt like with Lawrence and Byron we didn't need to (use Charles).
Q: Did you talk to your team about maintaining focus going into next week yet?
GB: This group's too mature to have to say that to. They know. They know everything that this game (at Iowa State) means. It's on the road and they'll be ready to play.
Q: What did you see that made you think you could throw the ball today?
GB: We weren't going to force any issues. We do a lot of run/pass options. At the line of scrimmage, Joel (Klatt) makes a decision based on how they're going to play it. We had a good plan for it and then we were able to execute it. We saw some things that if we could get to the play then we'd have a chance. And we were able to do that.
Q: How big of a boost momentum-wise was that roughing the kicker call?
GB: I don't know for sure, but we had talked before we went out that we weren't going to react to penalties, we were just going to respond. And when that happened, it kept the drive alive and allowed us to score. No matter what we weren't going to let it bother us. But it certainly was a key drive in the game.
Q: How big a momentum shift was J.J. Billingsley's fumble recover after the failed onsides kick?
GB: That was huge, especially after the head coach called an onsides kick. I appreciated those guys saving my butt.
Q: You've faced Brad Smith enough to know how effective he can be with his legs, but you did a good job against him.
GB: We did a good job of being disciplined in our pass lanes, staying on edges and getting to the ball. A couple times we lost coverage a little bit and let him dance around back there and make a couple plays. But I thought overall a guy as dangerous as he is we were effective.
Q: You've always talked about November being the time you want your teams to play their best. Are you now?
GB: It's sure better than the last game in October was. Our team knows that November is the big time. Only a few teams are standing in November and we're one of them. We've got to be playing our best football, and tonight may have been our best football.
Q: Did you do any scoreboard watching (of Nebraska and Iowa State games)?
GB: Yeah, I knew what was going on. I knew the Nebraska score, and at halftime I knew that Iowa State had won. I don't think we wanted to do it that way anyway.
Q: With all the quarterbacks you've coached, what's your comfort level with Joel?
GB: No offense to Darian Hagan, I'd probably take Joel first and Hagan second. I wouldn't have said that a year ago, but I've got to go with Joel now. With what we do, Joel's by far the best quarterback that I've coached. What we did when Hagan was here, he was.
Q: Did you have any reservations about sending in Mason Crosby for that 56 yarder?
Q: Why didn't you want to clinch it today (by winning, and Nebraska and Iowa State losing. Nebraska lost, ISU won)?
GB: We would've taken it. But it's about winning them.
Q: You're 20-3 against the North since 2001. Do you know why that is?
GB: We've had pretty good teams. It's a big deal, it's our division. That's what we set our goal to win.
Q: What was Lawrence doing well?
GB: We ran him inside a little bit. Lawrence just keeps going. He's going to find another way to make another yard. He loves it when it's tough. And he's just got something special down around the goal line.