Kragthorpe on Oklahoma

Tulsa head coach Steve Kragthorpe talks about his Hurricane and Saturday's matchup with Oklahoma.

Below are excerpts from Tulsa Head Coach Steve Kragthorpe's teleconference with the Oklahoma media on Tuesday.

On Oklahoma

"They've got a good football team. Nothing has changed from what we thought going into this game and our summer preparations. They're a very talented team and a well coached team."

On who will start at quarterback

"We'll start Paul (Smith). I think Paul played good football for us and he's our starting quarterback."

On the progress he's made so far building the Tulsa program

"I think we've made progress. We certainly have a long way to go to be the kind of team we want to be, and that's one that competes for a Conference USA championship on a consistent basis.

"From a recruiting standpoint, we've addressed some of the needs, yet some of those guys are still going to have to grow up in a pretty rapid fashion to get to that point as quickly as we want to coach there.

"As coaches were are all very impatient. That's kind of the nature of our job. We're like society we want it now. We have an eye for the future in terms of building this program in to one that will not only have success in the short-term, but will be able to sustain it in the long-term also."

On tight end Garrett Mills being a go-to guy on the offense

"Garrett's one of our better football players - there's no question about it. I think that's the true essence of coaching - whether it's on offense, whether it's on defense, whether it's on special teams - is to put your playmakers in a position where they have the ability and the opportunity to impact a football game. That's' something we're always looking to do with all of our playmakers."

On the importance of stopping the run against Oklahoma

"That's something we didn't do a good job of last week against Minnesota. The group of backs we'll face this week at Oklahoma are better than what we faced last night, with Adrian and Kejuan. They've got a stable full of backs that are very, very talented.

"I don't think there's any question we've got to be able to knock down the runs. To come out and say that you're going to stop Oklahoma's running attack, I think is a pretty bold statement. It's one that we're not going to make, but we hopefully can contain it."

On what Rhett Bomar will add to the offense at Oklahoma

"Well, he's a fantastic athlete. I don't think there's any question about it. I've watched those 10 snaps he played about 50 times, so I know the one thing he can do is escape the pocket and make plays with his feet. He can throw the football on the run. I thought he threw some real nice passes in the pocket.

"Obviously, his first play of the game is evidence of his athletic ability with the read option and taking that thing and going 28 yards down the sideline. With the preseason situation he's got a lot of repetitions. He's not a typical quarterback in terms of a No. 2 quarterback who's been named the starter. It was neck and neck from what I understand and following all the reports. I know he got a lot of practice repetitions. It's not like the starting quarterback got hurt and now you're in a situation where your No. 2 quarterback's going to play."

"He's a guy that wherever he's been, whenever he's played, whether it was in his high school career or now at OU, he's been very, very successful. There's no question that when he came out he was very deserving of the ranking that he had in terms of being the No. 1 quarterback in the country. He's a coaches' son so he thinks like a coach and manages the game well and knows how to play the game.

"Rhett's a very, very good football player, and I think he's going to have a great career there."

On Ashland Davis, who returned five kick-offs for touchdowns last year, being one of the better returners he's seen having coached in the NFL

"I think he's got some ability. I think our kick-off return unit did a nice job last year of putting us in a position to be successful. It's not one man that does the job, it's a consummate team game and every snap you take there's 11 guys on the field that have to do their job in order for you to be successful.

"I think our kick-off return unit took a lot of pride in what we were doing last year and really got excited about the opportunity to put the ball in the end zone, and Ashland was certainly a big part of that. Again, from a schematics standpoint we spend a lot of time on special teams and it's nice to see when your work comes to fruition.

"But Ashland does have some ability with the ball in his hands. I don't think there's any question about that. Hopefully, we can continue that trend that we started last year on our kick-off return unit."

On the offense

"We're a multiple formation and multiple personnel group offense. We try to be as challenging to the defense as we possibly can, yet remain simple for our guys. Like I touched on earlier, we're going to try to put the ball in the guys' hands that can make plays for us.

"Obviously, we want our quarterback to stand as erect as possible in the pocket and not get knocked down too many times. We like to protect him and hopefully give him an opportunity to survey the field and throw the football."

On the defense

"I think the guys who have had an impact on our program are guys like Nick Bunting, who is playing linebacker for us. Nick is from right here in Tulsa - played at Holland Hall High School as a two-year starter and now a three-year starter. He started as a true freshman our first year here in 2003 and has done some very, very good things for us.

"Nick Graham is a corner from Oklahoma City Millwood High School who has done very good things for us. Started part-time last year for us as true sophomore. He's a true junior this year who was part of our first recruiting class.

"Up front on the defensive line, Brandon Lohr from Jenks has had a fine career for us. Brandon Jones and Tommy Daniels are two nose guards, young guys out of Texas who have done a good job for us. Chad Evans is a transfer from Colorado - from right here in Tulsa who went to Booker T. Washington High School and sat out last season and did some good things for us Thursday night."

On how they'll approach an 11:30 .m. kick-off after having a late start time last Thursday against Minnesota

"We basically have a time schedule and we count back from kick-off. We'll just employ that strategy this week. There were a couple of different scenarios in terms of this game as we approached this looking back in March and April. We weren't sure when the kick-off time was going to be. Had it been a night game like we might have anticipated early in the season in Norman, we probably would've stayed here in Tulsa and bused down for the game and made it almost like a home game itinerary.

"With it being it being as early as a kick-off as it is, we're going to come down and stay in the city the night before the game. Really, you just take that itinerary and you plug in the game time and we have a countdown from there."

On the differences between quarterbacks David Johnson and Paul Smith

"We feel like we have two very able quarterbacks. They're both very good football players. They're both very intelligent, which I think puts us in a favorable position to utilize their talents from a schematic standpoint because they can absorb a lot of information and transfer that on to the football field.

"I thought both of them executed well (against Minnesota). Paul, while he was in the game the other night, was 7 out of 11. He got a couple drives going. We had a couple of penalties in one of those drives that knocked us out of the red zone but we did get a field goal. I thought Paul made good decisions with the football and did some good things against Minnesota.

"David's role is as our backup quarterback, and David came in and played his role about as well as you could've scripted it. He did a super job of having himself prepared. Charlie Stubbs - our offensive coordinator and quarterback coach - had him ready to play.

"We don't have a quarterback controversy, we've got a luxury because I feel like we've got two guys who can help us win football games this year. I wish we had that much depth at every position on offense, defense and special teams."

On how his new long-term contract will help in recruiting and establishing stability at Tulsa

"Obviously, it sends a message. We have a saying here, and everybody probably employs it, as far as actions speak louder than words. The actions of this university have said with that contract extension that we're committed to doing things the right way; we're committed to keeping this staff here and continuing to further the progress that we've made thus far.

"I'm really excited about the direction this football program's going here. We're building a facility. We should break ground here within the next four weeks on an eight million dollar end zone facility. I have a contract in place for six years. And again, I like this administration. I think we're headed in the right direction. We've got a great new president who is very involved with everything we're doing from an athletic standpoint."


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