Dorrell's Monday Press Conference

There was definitely electricity in the air, just not in the building, as Head Coach Karl Dorrell spoke before the media Monday, talking about the opportunity for his program this week in playing Oklahoma...

The Monday press conference for Karl Dorrell had to be moved to the entry way of the Athletic Hall of Fame since the electricity was out in the building during the city-wide blackout.

Karl Dorrell's opening statement:

"This looks like an impromptu press conference. I just finished my run around the campus and I shouldn't have tripped over the wire that caused this whole issue.

"Recapping the game from last week, we obviously had a marked improvement from our first game to our second. Our offense played the best we played since my tenure here. Drew Olson was phenomenal. The receivers played well, which was a question mark, as you guys were questioning last week. Our running backs...everything we did offensively was working. It's fun to see the potential of what we can do kind of come to fruition, for what we did offensively.

"I thought our defense made some very positive steps. A year ago, remember, this offense was the top rushing offense in the country, and we held them for under 200 yards, and about 255 of total offense. It's hard to do that versus an option team. It's a very precise defensive game plan where you have to play disciplined defense, and they caught us at times. Their fullback caught us a couple of times up on the dive fake, where he had some yardage against us. But other than that, I thought we defended the option pretty well, and had a lot of success defensively. We created two turnovers, one for six points, the other was a big turnover that we caused in the backfield, that our offense turned into six points. And that's a sign of a good football team, being able to take advantage of some good opportunities, and get those opportunities, and put some points on the board. Special teams played solid again, probably not as good as the first week. Good, in terms in how we're trying to be consistent in that area. We had another punt return for a touchdown. Maurice Drew was phenomenal, as usual. Our kick-off coverage team played very, very well. We didn't get as many touchbacks this past game like we did in the first game, but the coverage was really good. We punted twice, so we increased our punts to two punts instead of one punt. Hopefully we can keep those punting averages down. That would be a particular chore this week against Oklahoma. But we've made some positive strides in all three areas. The biggest disappointment was the penalties. I mentioned that after the game. Ten penalties is something usually you don't win by, particularly with the personal fouls, face mask, and holding calls that can hurt an offense. We were able to overcome them offensively. We weren't able to overcome those defensively. A couple of times in third down we had some critical penalties that extended their drives and they eventually scored on those drives. So we know we have some issues to clean up. We did make some marked improvement from week one to week two. We have Oklahoma this week, and our players are excited and ready to take on the Sooners."

Is this game more winnable now that Oklahoma hasn't played necessarily very well in its first two weeks?

"We felt pretty good about it from the start of the season. We knew we had a good team. We mentioned that before. We just need to keep improving week in and week out. We have a tremendous opportunity this weekend. We're playing well. We just have to clean up some issues still and still prove that we're a pretty good team this Saturday. So nothing has changed from what we thought at the beginning of the season. We're just moving right along."

What do you have to do to contain Adrian Peterson?

"Don't let him run. That's the biggest thing. He's a tremendous player. We tried to recruit him here. Obviously he was a national recruit. And he's a dangerous football player. He can run as fast as any back, as most backs in the country. He's powerful. He's a great combination. So we just don't want to get him started. If he gets started, he's tough to bring down."

What's the status of Justin Hickman?

"Justin's okay. He's been cleared for the game. He dinged his shoulder a little bit, late in the second half. But he's okay. He'll be ready to play."

Were they doing something particular that limited Spencer Havner on defense?

"I don't think they did anything that limited him. I think the scheme itself attacks certain areas, and they may not have been most of his responsibility. Justin London had a very good football game, which was a huge improvement from the first week to the second week. Option teams, you have to cover the dive, and cover the pitch. Spencer mostly plays in the box, but I don't think there was anything they did specifically. Just their scheme and opportunities made from our defense."

Is Oklahoma one-dimensional offensively now?

"No. Don't let that fool you. They're a very good rushing team. They have a Heisman Trophy candidate in the backfield. They have capable wide receivers, just like we have capable wide receivers. They just haven't had a consistency yet. We hope that consistency doesn't start until after our week. They're talented. This team has great team speed, both on defense and on offense. They're maybe just struggling a little here and there, and we're hoping that's still the case come Saturday. We're playing well and we want to continue to play well. They're playing with a new quarterback, and a few guys that are first-time starters. They're just finding their niche."

When the season began, this game was looking different than it is now. You're now 6 ½-point favorites against Oklahoma...

"Six and a half points, huh? When you struggle a little bit in the beginning, there might be some question marks they have in their own minds. I respect this team. I respect that coach. They're a fast football team. We've improved our speed on our football team. We're playing a little bit better. We have a senior quarterback that's playing better. They're having a new starter at quarterback, and it's been a little difficult for him to get started. I think that's the difference right now. I think he'll come along at some point in this season, and hopefully not this Saturday. They're more than capable of being explosive, in all the things they've done in the past."

Early on, though, it would have been thought that UCLA would be an upset of Oklahoma. Now it's more a matter of you guys taking care of business. It seems like a whole different mindset."

"Our mindset still is taking care of ourselves. We believe when we play up to our capabilities we're a pretty good football team. We've done that two weeks in a row, and are improving. That's still the same focal point for us this week, to see how much we can improve offensively. Defensively we made some huge strides. We still need to make a tremendous stride playing against this running back. And special teams need to keep the consistency there. So we're just really concerned about ourselves."

What do you do to compensate for Oklahoma's team speed. There was a significant difference than when you played them two years ago."

"You respect that speed. You have to respect your opponent and respect their abilities. We run pretty well, too. We have some guys that can make some plays. I think our team this year is a lot different than the team we had two years ago. We're excited about this opportunity."

Is this a big game for you?"

"Is that why the lights went out? It's an exciting moment. We're off to a good start. Our team is playing well, the morale is good. We're playing hard..."

No, I mean you. Is this a big game for you?

"It's big for our program. This is a game that is a measuring stick, like for all your guys. I'm sure your concerns are the same as everyone else out there. This is a measuring stick type of game, to see what we're all about. And our players are ready for the next step.

"I know you know about the situation with Maurice Drew, with his grandfather. I just want to mention it is an unfortunate occurrence three times in the last two months on our team. We had two other family members, where our players lost some loved ones. For Maurice it was during the course of the game. I want you to know that Maurice's grandfather was the biggest fan. He never missed a practice or a game in high school. And he's attended every game that Maurice had at UCLA. He was a tremendous fan. I want you to know that he (Maurice) is doing well, and the family is doing well. We don't anticipate him missing anything this week. I think the funeral arrangements will be sometime next week. We appreciate it if you can keep his privacy the way it is. We appreciate everyone's concern, too."

Does the game two years ago against Oklahoma have an impact on this game?

"Not really. Because this is a young football team. There aren't a lot of players from that team two years ago. We're a big sophomore-, freshman-laded team. Maurice Drew was there, he's a true junior. But there aren't many players on our team that were there in Norman. That's a different team. That's not a big a factor if this were a big, upper-class type of team. In our minds this is just one more chance to prove ourselves and get ready for a great opponent, and we're excited about playing on national television at 12:30 p.m."

Did that game in Norman change how you looked at special teams?

"Sure. Three punt returns against you as an NCAA record. That will stick out in your mind. You don't like those things happening to you very often. I'm in the record books. That's not something you're proud of. I think it's something we've worked on from that standpoint, and put a lot of stress into that, in terms of prioritizing that particular area. And that's why we've improved the last couple of years. Not just because of that game, but because of that circumstance."

"When you were conceiving the offense, what you wanted it to be, is this what you envisioned? How close is it to what you wanted it to be?

"It's close. It's getting the personnel in all the different positions. We have running ability, we have a great tight end, we have receivers that can make plays. That's what makes it difficult to defend. That's why we brought it here. That's why we believed in it. It's at the point where those things are starting to show the fruits of the labor we put into it the last two years."

It seems so much more dynamic now. Is that the case?

"Three years of experience. Drew being a three-year starter, that helps. Maurice, Marcedes Lewis, three years into it, that helps. Experience helps, and that foundation of our system is now in place. The young guys will keep building on that as they get older, too." Are you putting a lot of emphasis on potentially winning this game being a big step for your program?

"It's our next opportunity to get ourselves 1-0 again. We're not earmarking this game, putting it on the wall, and making a big historic fact of it. It's more of the opportunity for this season, in the third season, the third week of the season, for us to win a football game. That's our focus. There are a lot more games to come. There are nine. There's a big one at the very end that everyone knows about, too. We just have to keep our momentum building with what we're doing, and play the same way each and every week. This week isn't going to be different than how we played the last couple of weeks. We're going out there to win the football game, and put our best effort forward."

So you're looking ahead to that last game of the season?

"No. But that will inevitably be here soon."

With a lot of recruits probably coming to the game, is this a game that could impact the program for several years?

"There's a possibility of that. I'm not really looking at it like that, though. It's more, let's win the football game. The great benefits and fruits of that win will take care of itself. That's not something I'm thinking about at that time. We're preparing our staff and our players to go out and win a football game. That's what we're really concerned about right now."

While trying to take one game at a time, can you say that this game is a little bit bigger than that?

"That might be your perception, yeah."

Don't you think it's most people's perception?

"That could be. But I'm not really concerned about that. We take care of our business at home, and things will take care of itself."

You're hoping the players listen to you and not the outside influences?

"And that's difficult to do."

Would you like to have seen Aaron Perez punt more to get him experience..."

"No. Why would we want him to punt more? I'd like to keep his numbers down to about two or three a game. If our offense is clicking it's great that he doesn't punt very much. I'd like that for the rest of the season."

I'm saying coming into a game like this would you have liked him to have gotten him more experience so that he doesn't get rattled..."

"He may. But let's plan on that not happening. That's what our goal is, just to keep ourselves doing the great things we're doing right now."


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