Coach Stoops: It was good to play well really in all parts of the game and for a full 60 minutes. I understand Coach Rick Stockstill and his staff have only been there this year, so we're realistic and understand that they're gonna need a little bit of time still to get things going the way they want. I know a number of their coaches, all excellent and very good coaches and I'm sure they will.
We understand that we're gonna see stiffer and tougher competition as we go but it's pleasing to go out still, in those areas, and not have penalties, to take care of the football until the end. We've got some of our backups that need to do a better job of it. To not have the breakdowns that you can have regardless of who you're playing. And that's what we were shooting for, just to keep building as a team to play as well as we're capable of and not worry about who we're playing so much. For the most part we did that.
I thought Paul (Thompson) was excellent again. The offensive line protection, they blitzed an awful lot, we knew that coming in. We did a great job picking it up as well as tight ends and fullbacks. We ran the football really well. We had to get Adrian out just because we didn't want to take a chance and I think it was obvious the way we threw the ball that they had everybody up there just to hammer him and so we were able to have some big plays that way. And then defensively, we tackled well and really, structurally played in a better way.
It seemed that the defense made improvements over the way they had been playing. You didn't really give up any big plays tonight.
Coach Stoops: Well, you can look at all kind of reasons why. Structurally, we were better, sure, we were in better position, we did a lot of things better and got more pressure. But also realize, too, that what they're (MTSU) doing is different maybe than what other people are doing, so in the end we'll see if we can build on it.
Was it because the defense played with more intensity tonight than they have been?
Coach Stoops: I'm not getting into all that stuff. I feel like we have been focused. Now, when we took the field I felt that way. Maybe when you see the results I don't feel like we played very well early. So, did we change up our routine? No. They (the defense) came out and executed better.
Maybe you need to get Malcolm Kelly a smaller pair of shoes? He had another play where he was just barely out of bounds on what could have been a long touchdown.
Coach Stoops: I'm not going to get on Malcolm too much. Malcolm's making a lot of great plays, he's a great receiver and I think it's starting to be obvious to everybody.
Judging from the performances he's had, wouldn't you have to say that Paul Thompson is playing as well as any quarterback in the Big 12?
Coach Stoops: I would think. I don't pay attention except to who we're playing next. Believe me, I love the guy and I've said it all along - he's a very good quarterback with a chance to be great if the guys around him will also be great. But he's got a lot of ability and we're seeing it.
Again, the more comfortable he becomes back there and he's being protected, he threw some nice balls. He had a fade dropped to Malcolm as nice as you could throw a ball down in the goal line area and he is capable of making all the throws. The line drives, the ones lofted with some air under it and again, I think it's just the more snaps he gets, the better he's going to be.
Talk about playing your freshmen on the offensive line in the second half. Are you just trying to develop some depth because of the possibility of injuries?
Coach Stoops: Aw, there aren't injuries, we're getting them snaps and bringing them along and they're doing a nice job. Trent Williams is doing a really nice job, Chase Beeler did a great job in there, really most of the night. Those guys, we're going to keep bringing them along.
To follow up on that, you also brought Corey Brandon out of redshirt and played him a tackle in the fourth quarter.
Coach Stoops: Corey's going to be an awfully good player, too. He has potential to be and we just have to keep working those guys and give them as many snaps as we can and keep building them.
Bob, would you have liked to get Adrian Peterson more carries, more yards?
Coach Stoops: Sure. You know, what are you gonna do? Sure, you'd like to have him get 200 yards. In the end he didn't want to come out. I had to convince him. I said ‘Listen, what really matters here is your health, having you for the next game and you don't want something freakish to happen and then you think, what in the world am I doing?' So statistics get skewed for different reasons and ultimately, I care more about him being healthy and it's the right thing to do.
And even with Paul there late, we only wanted to throw for first downs like quick throws. We didn't want to take a chance with anything. But he needs that. Paul hasn't played a ton of snaps, so we wanted to keep him in there and get some of those intermediate and short throws to be precise. And he threw them in a great way. Just for the experience of it.
But anyway, it's the right thing to get Adrian out of there, regardless of what the statistics say.
Is that why he wasn't on the kickoff return to start the second half?
Coach Stoops: Absolutely.
How much value is it to play a game like this? Can you carry that over into when you're playing a more competitive opponent?
Coach Stoops: I don't get into all of that. We're trying to build as we go through the year and trying to make improvement. And I think for the most part, in a lot of ways, we are. And that's all we're trying to do is just make improvement we need to make to get stronger and better as a team and I believe it's coming. Make of this what you want, but we've got bigger and stronger games coming.
You should be 4-0. But right now, you're 3-1. Do you like where you are as you head into the conference part of the schedule?
Coach Stoops: Well, I don't know if you ever like where you're at. I'd like to win every game 59-0, so anyway, we are where we are. I like the way the team is working, I like their attitude and I like their desire to improve because I've seen that. So we've gotta just keep pushing.
Coming off of this performance, do you like the fact that you've got this off week coming up?
Coach Stoops: Absolutely. It couldn't come at a better time. Of course, I'll say that next year wherever it's at, too.
Are you happy with the progress of Jermaine Gresham?
Coach Stoops: Absolutely. Jermaine is a great young guy and a talent. I'm excited about what he's able to do and we're trying to give him more and more snaps in what he's able to handle and if he's able to handle it all mentally. The protections, the checks at the line, there's so much to it. People think, ‘Aw, just put him out there'. And he's doing a great job of it. He's just young and we need to keep getting him snaps.
Did you think the defensive tackles played better tonight?
Coach Stoops: To some degree, yeah. But I think they've been unfairly criticized overall. There's a lot of issues. People point to them, but you can't play defense without everybody. And sometimes it's them or a (line)backer or a safety. Everybody's in it together and they haven't played any differently than anybody else. Everybody at different times has been inconsistent.
You probably haven't seen much of Texas, but what do you think of what you have seen of them?
Coach Stoops: As always, very athletic football team and very good football team. You see that all the time. And to be honest, we haven't seen a ton of them. We'll get started on that on Monday or tomorrow, Sunday, and see. You know they have excellent personnel and ability. That doesn't change much from year to year.
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