Coach Stoops: Pleased with the good win, very pleased with how we played for the most part for I guess about 28 minutes up to maybe the last two minutes or so. The guys really played well in the second half, both sides of the ball, our special teams again were very good, very solid, that was a big factor in the game.
In the first half, I felt offensively we were close to making some big plays. I thought the way we were working the ball was good. Defensively, I felt we come out and give up one big play to start the game and then a big pass on a third and long in a very conservative coverage that's just not acceptable. We've got to be better than that and those two plays lead to ten points.
Outside of that, there's a lot of good play in there but you've got to be able to eliminate those couple of plays. And then defensively, I thought we were really good the entire second half until we get up 37-13 and there's three and a half or whatever minutes to go. Our guys just didn't really play like we're capable of there to finish the game.
Still, it's a good win and puts you in a position now to go to Oregon in a good way. We know we can play better. I sensed that in the locker room. Our guys know it's frustrating that we're close but they know there's so much more potential on this team and the ability to play better and it's frustrating when you don't. So we'll keep working for it.
With a quarterback like you faced today, it's got to be frustrating when he can spin around and get away like he did. Can you maintain the discipline to not get too aggressive against that type of player?
Coach Stoops: I think we can, we can be a little bit more in control. Nic (Harris) is a young guy who had some opportunities and missed him a few times in a row. Eventually, he made a nice third down play on him. You just have to get a feel for a guy like that. There's a difference between playing fast and being out of control and we've got to play fast and stay in control on guys like that. We need to learn from it.
The pleasing part of it, though, was we were chasing him, we were bothering him. He wasn't able to just sit there and throw. The pressure was effective in getting him to scramble around. He's gonna make his plays, he does against everybody. I thought overall – outside of the contain on him a few times – we defended him pretty decent.
Is there one thing that is allowing teams to be successful in running on you?
Coach Stoops: No. I would just say that we need to play better in some areas. Our positioning on the ball, defeating blocks in an instance or two on the long run, missed tackles and some of our linemen need to do a better job of getting off of blocks and staying alive in the play.
Was there anything you saw at halftime that allowed you to make adjustments defensively?
Coach Stoops: No, there aren't any magical calls. It was doing what we do and I felt that the players just played in a better way and more conscious of our positioning and our tackling was a lot better in the second half. So again, there aren't any magical calls. It's just executing better.
Paul Thompson had an excellent game and it could have been better if the receivers hadn't dropped several passes. That has to be a little frustrating, too.
Coach Stoops: Sure. Again, that's part of expecting more out of ourselves. We've gotta make those plays. Ball's thrown right to you, you've gotta catch it. Those change games and take away possession time and opportunities for them and give you field position. You've gotta catch those balls.
Did you feel like you made the you expected from week one to week two?
Coach Stoops: Oh, the improvement was there at some points. I still believe we have got to be a better run defense than what we showed today. I believe we're capable of it. We have to keep demanding it and working it as coaches and the players have to do a better job when they're out there defending it. That part may be the biggest for me. I'm never pleased with anybody when they can run the football.
I would say this. They had some big plays. There's a good part of the first half – I know you don't take away the one run; that's an issue - but the rest of it was pretty decent. So there's a lot of that, the defense in there is really good. But I want the consistency through the whole game.
I was really displeased with the last three minutes. Just because we have a huge lead and they put a backup quarterback in there and we go out there – and I'm not taking anything away from Washington – I just don't feel like we were as focused as we had been the whole rest of the second half.
Back to Paul's performance. That had to be very pleasing to you.
Coach Stoops: Very much so. You know, the turnover in the end zone, that's on us as coaches.. We shouldn't have put him in that position.
I thought he again managed the game in a great way. His checks were excellent, where he went with the football was really good. Some guys like Malcolm Kelly really made some plays for him and they're capable of making big plays like that. I thought Paul was really good. I was really pleased with him.
Talk about Reggie Smith's punt return. An 82-yard kick but Reggie came back with a 62-yard return. It was a big play in the first half.
Coach Stoops: It was. Guy line drived it though and fortunately Reggie was able to pick it up with some space and he has that kind of ability. Our guys were really blocking well for him and hustling for him and Reggie can make big plays. So we're fortunately he did because it really helped with field position of course.
Your clock management seemed really good at the end of the first half and after you got the lead in the second half. It seemed that you were able to handle the new clock rules better and get more offensive plays today.
Coach Stoops: Well, I don't know how long we're going to talk about it. We're doing everything we can to get the number of possessions we want, to be at the line of scrimmage ready to snap the ball. I was very happy. I thought it was very clean, very good and I thought that we used the clock well at the end of the game when we got a strong lead. You know, you're up 17 points. Really, the clocks the important thing now and I thought we did a nice job using it.
How does this win feel as you get ready for a big test next week?
Coach Stoops: It's satisfying of course. Washington's a good football team. I think they'll get better and better as they go through the year. But it's good to go out and execute like you're capable of and I think we'll learn a lot again from this and get better from it and keep improving from it.
What changes or adjustments did you make defensively in the second half?
Coach Stoops: Adjustments? We didn't make any. We changed Lendy Holmes for D.J. Wolfe. That was it.
Sometimes everybody acts like "oh, we put a new defense in at halftime". Uh-uh. I mean, what we were doing in the first half was good. We got out of position on some blocks, overran on a blitz when they ran one of the off-tackle plays and the backer over scrapes. On the first play, we're in position, one of our defensive linemen is in position after we defeat the block, he beats the double team and he's there and he doesn't make the play. A lot of times, there isn't any magic to it. It's just playing better.
You played catch up the entire first half and then finally got the lead by driving for a touchdown on your first possession of the third quarter. Did you have the sense that if you ever did get ahead you could start to take control of the game?
Coach Stoops: You're always trying to, you know, but I'm always amazed, everyone wants to look at in the first quarter it was this. Well, it's a three hour deal out there. You play the whole deal. And I was pleased with how we came on in the second half.
But in the first half, nobody was pressing. We felt we were doing the right things and like I said, offensively I thought we were close to making some other big plays and I felt defensively – outside of the two plays – there was a lot that we were doing that was really good.
How about getting the ball back after you fumbled and then driving for a score? That had to be a big momentum builder.
Coach Stoops: Well, the biggest play was us forcing a turnover. That was big. It was good run defense. We had a bunch of guys upfield on them. And you know, the drive was huge. That changed the game.
Talk about the completion to Fred Strong that went for 25 yards.
Coach Stoops: On third down, that was a big play. What was it, third and six I think, something like that? He beat his guy inside on a slant and Paul threw a bullet right to him in a great spot and Fred made a nice, strong catch and almost broke it. That was a big play.
What about Adrian Peterson today?
Coach Stoops: Everybody just expects it. We didn't even talk about him yet. But he's just a monster in running the football – and I say that in a complimentary way. I meant how tough and physical he runs the ball. He wants it and he did a great job in hammering it in the second half. So close to having a couple that could have gone the distance and just a fingernail away on one of them. He's gonna make those but he hammered it hard.
The offensive line I thought we need to avoid some of those foolish penalties at the line of scrimmage, just some procedure deals, but outside of that they did some really good things. But AD, he hammers it. He's a tough, physical guy and is in there the whole time and looked good and played well again.
Do you see signs that this can be a really good team when the offense is playing as well as they did in the second half?
Coach Stoops: Sure, when you get to clicking like that where you're starting to play like you're capable of, it is a good feeling as a coach when you see it starting to come together for a period of time. We just have to do it more consistently and start out better.
You used Brody Eldridge at fullback a lot today. Was that to get a more physical presence in that position?
Coach Stoops: Brody is a good football player. You noticed, you know, Matt Clapp was a little nicked up. We believe we'll have him this week and Brody just went in there and played a lot of fullback plays. He's that kind of an athlete; he can catch, he can run, he's physical. He's really a versatile guy.
Ian (Pleasant) did a nice job too, it seemed. It's always hard to say without seeing the tape, but it seemed like he did a nice job as well.
Your special teams were a big part of today's game in all phases.
Coach Stoops: Really strong again. I thought Garrett Hartley was really good with his kicks. Derek Shaw, our young snapper, was great all day. All but one punt was really good. Downing the ball at the one yard line was huge. Blocking one punt and should have blocked another- you know, made ‘em pull it down and returns were really good, so it was solid.
Instead of just being good enough to run the offense, it looked like Paul Thompson could be a guy that can make big plays to win games today.
Coach Stoops: He's gonna be. I just believe Paul has a lot of ability. The more comfortable and the more snaps he gets back there, the better and better he's gonna get. And it's fair to say there's guys out there with him that are holding up their end as well, that are helping him. And as they get better, he'll get better, too.
How did Lendy Holmes do after you put him in for Wolfe? And what is Keenan Clayton's status after being pulled.
Coach Stoops: Seemed to do really well. I was really pleased with how Lendy played from what I could tell.
I don't like to single out young players like that. But Keenan will continue to play. He'll get better.
Talk about the day that Malcolm Kelly had.
Coach Stoops: Malcolm's a big, strong, great receiver. He's gonna get better and better too. I don't like the drops. He was close, too, to being behind them a couple of times that we didn't quite get the ball to him. He's a big play guy. On the one touchdown, we had a corner route by the tight end, and Malcolm had the post and Paul just put it up high and let him go get it. That simple.
Looked like Demarcus Granger really was aggressive for you in the second half and made some penetration.
Coach Stoops: Seemed like it. Again, we felt early on we need to play better in there in some instances and Demarcus seemed to in the second half. Hard for me, again, I'll have to see the tape to see for sure.
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