On this weekend's Bedlam showdown
"Another big game with Oklahoma State. An in-state rival and a team coming in 7-1 and ranked 14th, 15th or whatever poll you want to look at. What's great about it coming into this game and the challenge of it is the winner of this game really puts theirself in a strong position for the Big 12 South race and opportunity to win a Big 12 Championship. That's what we realize. Right now being 8-0 and undefeated in the conference, we're pushing for that and recognize that Oklahoma State is a strong challenge here at home. But we like the fact of the importance of the game and what it means, the rivalry. Our players are excited about it, to have the opportunity to come here in our stadium to compete with the whole country watching. and I guess ESPN College Gameday will be here. It's a big game and we recognize it that way. "Hopefully this year we can coach a little bit better, give ourselves a better opportunity to win. And we believe our players will play a little better as well. So, we're looking forward to it and it will be exciting here on Saturday."
On OSU's offense
"Their balance on offense is well talked about with Tatum Bell and (Josh) Fields, (Rashaun) Woods and the ability to throw the ball. They have good balance and they do a good job checking plays and getting to one or the other."
On OSU's defense
"Structurally they're very sound and disciplined in how they play. They pick their times when they want to come after you."
On the reasons why OU has struggled against OSU over the last three years
"They have played well. And we have played well and won. Since we've been here we've won two and they've won two. I think people look at the year 2000 where we make a play at the end of the game or two to win the game, in 2001 we don't. Also, if we make the play in 2001 we're in three straight Big 12 championship games. It all depends on your perspective. They've played well to be there. We've played well enough to win at times and the last two years we haven't. In fact, last year they badly outplayed us and outcoached us. The other years were strong games. Reasons? I don't know. I'm not much for them. You either do it or you don't."
On if OU's defense can take on a great receiver like Rashaun Woods
"I believe we are playing at a stronger level this year than we have the last three years defensively and offensively. We have to make sure that happens again this week. I do like the way we are playing in all parts of our defense this year. We have been strong against the run with everybody. You look at Colorado, who even though they're throwing more has run on everyone a little bit. Missouri — you appreciate a little more what we did against Brad Smith the more you watch them. We are structurally playing in a better way — taking away the run game, taking away big plays through eight games. And that will be a strong point in this game."
On if OSU is the most balanced team OU will have played this year
"Yes. Thinking back that's probably fair to say."
On how good the game is for the state with both teams contending for the Big 12 title
"I think it's great. You look at all the attention for this game this week and across the country with all that it brings, I think it's great for the state. I don't know how it could be anything but that."
On how much OSU has improved from the last season
"That's hard to say. They have played more consistently through these last seven games, which is obvious. So, how much different from then, it's hard to say. They were playing at a very good level then too. I'm not much on equating those kind of things."
On if OSU is playing like a top 10 team
"At this point in the year I don't know what is or isn't (a top 10 team). That stuff is decided by the way you finish the year — for us, for them or for anybody else. You earn that through 12, 13, 14 games."
On what makes him think OU can contain Woods better and avoid the big plays they got last year
"What's different is the way we have played through eight games. We have played at better level, haven't given up big plays. I believe just the structure of our defense is built a little bit different this year. In the end, you have to earn it again this week. But again, the way we're playing indicates that."
On if he's glad that the game is this weekend rather than on Thanksgiving weekend
"Absolutely. Again, you can't argue with our reasons for it. First of all, the attention is there. We never said we weren't playing the game. The game is going to be played, so the attention is here. It just depends on what week. I don't know why that week is any better than this week. We're getting ESPN College Gameday here this week. It's great. The whole country is watching it. That's what you want.
"The last three years we have been looking at the Big 12 championship game in our last week. Two years we've already had it locked up where we know we're playing in the Big 12 championship the following week. If that were the case and the games were already finished you could practice three days, let your players go home (for Thanksgiving) be with their families for three days and still come back and have a full of week of practice for a Big 12 championship game and extra preparation for whoever you're going to play. How can that not be good for a team? There are sound reasons. And again, the attention is still there for this game, which is what you want."
On if the Big 12 will schedule the game for after Thanksgiving in the future
"The (Big 12) Conference, just through TV negotiations from what I understand, we along with all the other schools, through an eight year TV package, will play it twice. So, whether it's Missouri-KU or other teams will play after Thanksgiving as well. So there may be an occasion where we do."
On the revenge factor against OSU
"Revenge, to me, has nothing to do with it. It's going after your goals. Going after championships and trophies, that's what matters. That's what our season's are judged on. And this is a major step going after those goals."
On OSU's defensive schemes
"They try and cheat players that are in coverage into the box to try and help on the run game, and that's nothing new. A lot of people have done that. It's more of a bend and don't break defense to keep people contained. They pick their times when they want to gamble and come after you. So, that's how they do it. And they do it in a good, safe way."
On the game being more emotional with both teams ranked an in contention for the Big 12 South title
"Probably. There's a lot more at stake for us and for them."
On how much has OSU's offensive line improved since last year
"They've made steady improvement, which you would expect from most people as you go through the year. They do a nice job of scheming their run game and their protections. They're very disciplined in how they play and they're playing well."
On stopping OSU's running game
"You've got to be in gaps where they want to run and you've got to tackle when they get there. They try and move their people around to create different seams and we've got to be good at cancelling seams when they move people to create them."
On OSU fullback Shawn Willis
"He does do a nice job. He's very good at just what I talked about — creating seams. The bottom line is you have to be there with somebody to counter it and cancel seams. They also have tight ends back there to move around and do the same."
On what receivers Rashaun Woods and Mark Clayton mean to their teams
"I think they bring reliability. They bring big plays and a toughness to the position that other plays recognize and feed off to a point."
On if he and Les Miles have a relationship off the field
"Yes, we're all cordial to each other. We get in Big 12 meetings and there isn't anybody hostile toward one another. But it's fair to say we're not calling each other up and going to dinner (laughs). There's nothing wrong with that."
On if OSU has shown a lack of respect to OU's program with Les Miles' comments this week
"I don't know. I don't bother to equate it. I think what they have shown, and you would expect that, is that they're not impressed with us. I said yesterday that gauging by the way we played a year ago I don't know why they would be impressed with us. If they watched our game from a year ago they're not very impressed with what we are and how we've played. I recognize that from watching it. We'll see if we can be a little better this time."
On if he thinks OSU is impressed with the games OU has played this year
"I don't know. We'll see. I believe we've played a little bit better this year, but when we get in this game we need to do it as well."
On if he feels like OU has something to prove this weekend
"What do we need to prove? We need to win to continue to have an opportunity to win a Big 12 championship and to continue on a national championship hunt. If that means we have something to prove, sure. We proved last year that we were good enough to win a Big 12 championship and we weren't good enough to win every on of our games."
On comparing OU-OSU to Florida-Florida State
"Florida-Florida State are in a different conference, so that kind of makes it a little bit different."
On if playing your rival in conference makes the game more intense
"At that time when I was there (Florida) both of us were in the top five or 10 in the country and there were more national championships circumstances to it. With Oklahoma State being 7-1 there's more to it. But up to this point that hasn't been the case. That kind of fuels it with the more national championship ramifications there are."
On what they have to do to calm the players down before a big game like this weekend
"You don't have to keep them down, but you have to control it — the emotion and excitement, because it's there. And that's what's good about it. We've been in a lot of big games and we've handled that emotion and that excitement in a good way in these kind of games, whether they're championship games or games that kind of lead you to them. It's something that you have to keep in control. Our players are fully aware that just being angry, mad or excited doesn't win for you. You've got to be prepared to play."
On if his team will have a 'Texas-type' intensity this week
"I don't think there's any question. We understand this is a major step in controlling the South and winning a Big 12 championship, as well as continuing on for on opportunity for a national championship."
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