Q-I hear the elephant in the room is conference expansion. What is your take on that, and also, how do you keep that away from preparation for the Missouri game?
A-Real simple. You know, my comment on it is what it has been for the last two weeks that I leave that in the hands of my president and athletic director who I have great faith in to determine what's the very best for the University of Oklahoma. And I mean that. I'm not--it's not just a pad answer. And then from the Missouri game, hey, you know, we were No. 1 in the country last year and we went up there and they whipped us. So, our players are more than aware of that and anxious to play.
Q-You were on the Dan Patrick Show this morning and you said you were consulted about the move. Could you just go into that?
A-I have said all along, my opinion [is something they've valued]. They have wanted to know my feeling in regards to this whole matter and in respect to the piece of the puzzle it is to everything.
Q-Also, what did you learn about your defense Saturday night? Javon was so good, and he really held you guys in the game.
A-Well, a lot of guys were so good. Tom Wort was incredible, had a huge game. Frank Alexander had a huge game up front, was really great. Javon had, you know, an excellent night. You know what? Most everybody did. It was just great. We had one bad play. The rest of it [was good]. You know, we keep them--even with that bad play they don't get 250 yards. So, it was [good]. They get one touchdown from it, but it was really solid. It makes a big difference when you play defense like that.
Q-What did you learn overall about your team, especially in that fourth quarter Saturday night?
A-Just the character, the poise to play in the fourth quarter the way they did and to answer the bell. And I've had a good feeling about this team, but you have to prove it and you have to see it that they'd have that kind of poise and character, you know, to come out and to finish a game. I mean, the last nine minutes of the game are exactly what you want in all parts of the game. We had to answer it and go down and score. We did. We had to kick off and cover, and, you know, we covered well. The guy, the first kickoff they covered, we hold him to the 20-yard line. The defense gets an interception, so they answered the bell. And then the offense runs the ball, runs the clock out, gets the field goal. We have to kick off again, and we get him at the 16- or 17- yard line the next time. So, in all phases we did what we needed to do.
Q-What do you hope that a win like this does for this team the rest of the year?
A-Well, just keeps building confidence and poise, and, you know, there will be different circumstances through the year and, you know, you ought to know how to handle them and/or what wins for you. And that's the discipline to play in the moment. You know, I was really proud we played 66 or 68 snaps in that ruckus crowd, incredibly loud, and we don't have a procedure. We don't have an illegal shift. We don't have a delay of game. You know, so it was really good to play that way.
Q-The win officially put you in the national title discussion. With the expansion talks, is that a distraction towards this run? And also Texas head coach Mack Brown said he'd like to stay in the Big 12 for regional match-ups, for the fans and parents of the players. What are your thoughts on keeping it regional for the fans and the parents to keep all those close match-ups?
A-Well, again, you know, I think everybody that has been here the last couple of years was for all of that as I was. But at the end of the day, as landscape changes, you have to change with it. And, you know, there's a lot of different--there's a lot to consider, which our university officials are considering. So, that's been the case. But and as far as a distraction, I don't see it being one. All we're thinking about is playing Missouri.
Q-What's been your impression of [Missouri quarterback] James Franklin? Was he a player that you guys recruited very much?
A-Yeah, we've always liked him and did to some degree. And I think he's an excellent player, you know, a guy that's got excellent size and can run but also, you know, does an excellent job throwing the football. So, it's another one of those guys similar, I said the same thing a week ago. You know, E.J. Manuel, a big, strong guy can run, can throw a football, so I'm going to say all the same things this week. And it's true. He's a good player, a really good player.
Q-What was the biggest impact that Travis Lewis had when he was out?
A-Just he did a great job of just continuing to lead and to be a vocal and strong leader and motivating leader because it's hard to do when you're not playing. You can easily drift into the woodwork because it is hard to have a lot to say when you're not actually out there doing it. But the players have such, you know, respect for him that they [listen to him]. And he made sure that he continued to do it and to be around and be in front of everybody, it made a big difference in these last few weeks.
Q-Where do you think that comes from? How much of that is innate and how much of that is just kind of what he's learned as he's become the kind of leader he's been for your team?
A-I think it's been both. It's a good way for you to observe it in that it is innate. It's fairly natural for him, but also in the last couple of years, it's been learned, and he realizes that the team needs it, and he's willing to give it. So, he's learned that, ‘Hey, this is part of being an older player that's played well. I need to have something to say to get the other guys to play this way.'
Q-Like you said, the defense was really good the other night, but was one of the best parts the run defense because other than that one quarterback scramble, you guys didn't give anything on the ground?
A-Absolutely, that's always a major factor for us. And, you know, you think about it. I think the running backs--we counted it up at 15 or so runs--I don't think had 15 yards maybe, if that, maybe less. So, we're to get people in predictable situations and to really be great against the run game's a big factor in playing good defense.
Q-The ABC camera caught you on the sidelines after Jimmy Stevens' fourth quarter field goal. What were your thoughts when he kind of line drived that thing through and barely gave you guys a 10-point lead?
A-Well, just you're kidding me. It was such an easy field goal that that's all we got. But anyway, at least he had the right [angle]. It's kind of like when you hit a poor drive. At least I had the right [aim]. I had it down the middle even though it didn't go as long as I wanted. You know, so anyhow, it got the job done.
Q-There was a situation when you were punting and got back up in your own end zone with a couple of penalties. What were your thoughts on that?
A-Well, I was mad. I just thought the rule states that if you are intentionally drawing a guy offsides and not making a legitimate move to jump the snap, that that's a penalty. And actually I've been called for that. Our team has been called for that before, and that's what I was stating to the official.
Q-I wanted to ask with the days basically numbered for the Big 12, is there any greater sense of urgency for you to win this upcoming game against Missouri and the Big 12?
A-Well, you know, I don't know if there's any [greater one]. There's always a great sense of urgency for us to do that, and we've done it a lot. So, you know, last year was pretty special with Nebraska leaving to play them in it. But every year, that's one of our main goals, so this year is too to say that more so than others, that would be taking away from, you know, these other years. It's a big deal for us, and we've done it a lot.
Q-You mentioned earlier that your team is excited to play Missouri because of what happened last year. How do you manage that revenge factor, and is that something that you have to manage or is that something that you just kind of let go?
A-Well, it's just like managing last week with all of the hype around last week's game. Just because there's hype doesn't mean, you know, that wins for you. Just because Florida State was mad and wanted to do something--they circled us for a year--doesn't mean it wins for you just because, you know, they beat us a year ago. We understand there's a big game, doesn't mean it wins for you. In other words, do the work. You know and that there's a process of working through the week and being prepared for it. That's what wins for you, being prepared, doing the work and when you get opportunities in the game, you know, meeting the challenge and making plays.