Defensive weekly Q&A: FS Tony Jefferson

NORMAN, Okla. — Free safety Tony Jefferson bounced back from a high-ankle sprain with a 14-tackle performance the other night against Kansas State, but the Sooners still lost despite that. Nonetheless, he displayed his leadership out there, and Sooners Illustrated caught up with him to discuss that this week as well as his health.

Q. You had a lot of tackles. How's your ankle feeling?

A. It's a little sore, you know, take it easy right now, but I mean it's nothing I can't handle.

Q. It didn't look like it affected you Saturday. Was it bothering you at all?

A. Well, yeah, I tweaked it a little bit. It's too big of a game to be worried about an ankle.

Q. You played so well for three quarters. What changed in the fourth when things seemingly came unhinged a little bit for you?

A. Nothing changed. I mean, we just messed up on a few plays and wasn't as focused as we were as those three quarters and that really hurt us in the fourth quarter. That's when you can't play like that. You can't win. You know, they converted five-for-five third downs in the fourth quarter. You're not gonna win a ball game that way.

Q. Talk about how frustrating it is to go against a team like K-State that wants to chew the clock and then not be able to come up with those third down stops:

A. Yeah, I mean, like you said it was just frustrating. But it's past us now, so we got Texas Tech.

Q. How do you kind of shift gears and get ready for Texas Tech that's going to do things differently and throw the ball a lot?

A. Well, we know they're gonna throw the ball a lot and we're gonna prepare for two weeks for them throwing the ball a lot. And, you know, they gashed us last year, and we're gonna try to fix that.

Q. What do you go through after a loss like that? What stages do you go through?

A. Emotions could vary. You could be mad, you could be sad or you could have the attitude of it's past us now. That's what today's for. We watched film on what we messed up on and we try and fix 'em, but now we're on to a new team.

Q. Do you feel like anybody on the team is still hung up on this loss?

A. They shouldn't be, and I hope they aren't. We got a long schedule, a bunch of better teams. We're not out of the running of anything.

Q. Did you guys see a different level of intensity today in practice?

A. Yeah. I mean, you see guys and we just took a loss early, so guys are kinda trying to get back out there. We want to play again so we can redeem ourselves. So yeah, I saw a big difference, a little pep in the step.

Q. Tough to get up for practice knowing that it's a bye week, you have some time [before your next game]?

A. No, because we just came off a bye week and lost. So, we gotta change our approach.

Q. How do you go about that?

A. Attention to detail. I mean, it was the little things in this game that got us. So, we just gotta fix those and we'll be on our way.

Q. Is that frustrating knowing that attention to detail is something that is stuff you guys have been talking about since before the season?

A. It can be frustrating, but why dwell on it? It's time to move on. We got another team that came into our house last year and beat us, so that's what we're focusing on.

Q. On Saturday, you seemed pretty upset. For you personally, what did you go through?

A. You know, I was frustrated. We were in the game where we could have won, and just felt when you lose to a team you could have beat, it makes it more frustrating.

Q. So what do you go through to kind of get out of it?

A. Like I said, just know that it's a long season and you got a lot of time to replenish what you guys messed up on, what we messed up on.

Q. You've been getting used to Mike Stoops. How has it been different with his approach to you guys following a tough loss?

A. I guess you can say reinforcement that we got a long season, but, at the same time, we gotta have that constructive criticism. And I think that's what's gonna help us so we know what mistakes we shouldn't do that we did.

Q. You seem pretty calm just in talking with you. I know we talk about maturity and you getting off social media and things like that. Have you approached it differently with your teammates?

A. Well, I think they're all prepared. We've been in this situation before. I mean, it doesn't take much, you know, to have a team collapse. So you gotta try and comfort your teammates and let them know that it's a long season. We're a good team, and they were a good team. Can't bash them. What a lot of people don't know is their offense was very difficult, every set was a different offense.

Q. At practice, are you barking at everyone more?

A. Yeah, I mean, but that's what's expected of me at this point.

Q. As a guy who wants to be a leader on this defense and this team overall, what is your message to your teammates?

A. Plain and simple, just pay attention to detail and, you know, just read your keys. I feel like we were in the right spots. We just gotta little tiny bit that we mess up on can gash us. So, it's just focus. I think that's the key word for these next two weeks is focus.

Q. Just wanted to ask you as a defense what things can you guys do to force more turnovers out there and create more opportunities?

A. You know, there's plenty of other things we could have done these past few games to create more turnovers as far as focusing on our assignments and reading our keys. And, you know, that's some things that we've lacked in these few games and we haven't got the turnover production we've wanted.

Q. How much of getting those turnovers and creating those turnovers, how much of that is aggression?

A. Those are big. You know, turnovers are always big on either side. It's gonna change the complexion of the game, you know. You have to force turnovers to win ball games. Especially if they're gonna convert like they did on third downs, you're gonna have to cause turnovers, get some to win.

Q. So, are those the results of you guys playing more aggressively do you feel like? Are you playing as aggressively as you need to?

A. I mean, we're playing aggressive. This past weekend we didn't get as many passes, but we still need to force turnovers. When they run the ball we need to try and strip it. I mean, that's what we're gonna focus on these next two weeks.

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