Franchione says Sooners deserve to be No. 1

Texas A&M Head Coach Dennis Franchione talked about Saturday's matchup with Oklahoma at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

On what is common among upsets
"I think the underdog makes a few plays, gets some confidence, stretches the game out, gets the other team out of rhythm a little bit, and obviously plays very solid."

On how he was able to keep Alabama's game with Oklahoma close last season
"Because we couldn't go to a bowl game, it was a game that our guys looked forward to a great deal. We kind of got off, in the first half, to a little bit of a tough start. Our guys kept playing hard, and we made some plays in the kicking game. We blocked two punts and faked a field goal. The offense kind of got going a little better and we got in a little better rhythm. We ran at them a little bit, and actually had a touchdown taken off the board on a holding penalty. We made key plays right down to the last couple minutes of the game. The players fought hard and played with a lot of spirit about them. I think the kicking game is what turned it around for us."

On his reaction when A&M upset OU last season
"I thought it was a great upset and a great win for Texas A&M and a tough loss for Oklahoma. Anytime it is an upset everybody is a little surprised. In college football, who you play, when you play them, where you play them, who is healthy, who is not; you don't take any of those games as a big surprise when they happen. They happen. They happen every week. That is what makes this such a great game."

On the difference between this year's OU team and last year's
"I think this one's better. This team just appears a little stronger in all areas-- kicking game, offense, defense. They've had some impressive wins. They're scoring lots of points. They've got lots of playmakers. They've only let two teams have over three hundred yards. They deserve to be ranked No. 1; they're very good."

On OU having the revenge factor
"I don' t think Oklahoma needs that to play for. I think they've got a lot to play for. I don't ever think too much about those aspects of games. There's too many other important things that you play for."

On how to get Oklahoma on their heels
"I don't know if you can set this team on their heels. I think you've got to play four quarters to do that. I think they've been there and done that. They're pretty business-like in what they do. They play well; I haven't seen any letdowns by them in their performance. I just think you're going to have to play a complete game. An early drive here and there is not going to be enough. You're going to have to keep doing things on both sides of the football, because they are really good. They're going to make you play 60 minutes to beat them, and that's what's going to have to happen."

On how QB Reggie McNeal has progressed from last season this year
"It's really difficult for me to talk about his progression last season, or even draw an analogy to it. Since I've been here I have seen him go through a lot -- ups and downs, a lot of learning, a lot of maturing. He's had a tough day to overcome and he's done that. Not everything's gone his way, but he's learning to handle the next play and not let that bother him. The phrase that probably fits what's happening is maturing. I don't know if he's reached his complete maturity, but he's very intelligent. I've been very impressed with the amount of knowledge that he can absorb and digest and execute. For the most part, other than one game, he's been very careful with the football."

On if this Oklahoma team reminds him of any he's played against in the past
"I saw some great Oklahoma teams in '78, '79, and '80 when I was at Kansas State. I think this team is maybe better than anybody overall we played in my two years in the SEC. Tennessee my first year would be as close to them as I could get. It's a different kind of team, and that makes it a little hard to compare them. The easiest comparison would be when I was at K-State '78, '79 and '80 and all the speed they had and the people covering kickoffs, the athleticism. It's probably the easiest analogy for me."

On Oklahoma's speed on defense
"If you get them to take a bad step or two, they are so fast they can make up for it. And they get so many people to the ball. They don't miss many tackles, but when they do, there's a host of them around it. They cover for each other so well, they run so well, they play defense with such a reckless attacking mode of thinking out there. It's obvious they've been playing in this scheme for a while. They're very confident in what they 're doing."

On how OU's speed on defense could effect A&M's play-calling
"Any time you make a game play, you try to do what hurts that defense, or what their weakness is. Their speed to the edge makes you think a lot about those kind of plays, so it's right on both accounts. I've been watching tape since 6:30 on Sunday night, and I haven't found much that they're susceptible to yet."

On the players looking forward to playing No. 1
"You want to go take your shot. I've seen it before and I think guys get excited about trying to stack up against what could be the No. 1 team in the nation. I think any player that's not excited about seeing where they measure up on that probably shouldn't be going. I think it was similar to (the Virginia Tech) game. Our guys looked forward to that challenge. Since we won that game last year, I think our guys have some thoughts that they've played with these guys before. That's better than going up against a team that nobody on your roster has beaten before."

On what part of his team is he comfortable with going into Saturday
"After the coin flip I'm not sure yet (joking). These guys are pretty good. We've been grinding on this pretty hard. It's really hard for me to define that for you without saying some things about our game plan that I don't want to say. I don't mean to be evasive. But I think you've got to use your playmakers, and you've got play solid, and you've got to play good in the kicking game -- heaven knows punting the ball to them is enough to make you hold your breath. UCLA found that out. I held my breath every time punted to them last year."

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