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Tulsa Postgame Quotes vs Fresno State

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Sept. 22, 2012

Recap |  Final Stats |  Notes

TULSA HEAD COACH Bill Blankenship

Opening Statement
COACH BLANKENSHIP: Wow, you know, the best thing I can tell you is just so proud of our guys for not giving in. Absolute fabulous defensive effort. We made it so hard for them with how we played offensively in the first half especially.

But then you come back, and really proud of the freshman kicker knocking everything through that has been a little bit of a question mark. Then just offensive line got some yardage when we needed to grind it out there at the end. I don't know. You ask me.

Q. From an emotional standpoint, it was a hard fought game a close game throughout. You got behind early by 13. After the game, a big sigh of relief on your part.
COACH BLANKENSHIP: It was just crazy how hard it was. But I think you can grow from that. You know, it was a very hard win. We struggled to do anything really well consistently on offense. It's a great credit to their defense. Just what they thought they would do. They brought the pressure. We had a hard time handling. They're big and physical up front. We had a hard time moving them around.

We didn't get to play 22, Trey, very much. He got an ankle early. Kind of limited some of the packages we had.

It was hard. But all the while the defense did a great job, they got down and then just kind of really bowed up. Had we not thrown the other interception, pick six, they were playing extremely well.

Q. How big was it to get Shawn back tonight?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: Shawn was especially big. We wound up losing Trent partway through the game. We had to move DeAundre back into the middle. I know he missed a couple of tackles, some things that probably happen when you haven't been playing for three weeks.

But it was a huge deal for our defense because of the emotional lift he brings.

Q. There were three catches that stand out in my mind, the long touchdown on the fourth down, Roberson stretching out, then James making the catch to get the first down. How pleasurable is it to see those kind of plays?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: I kept telling Cody, especially after the first quarter, just felt like we were this far from really clicking. We were just a hair away from making more throws and more catches that would have made things a little easier. But again, they had defenders there. They knocked them out and did some things to us, as well.



I think we got a one point win against a very good football team.

Q. Was it the third touchdown where the ball was tipped, the guy just jogged in?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: You have those days. And it felt like it was turning into one of those. We were struggling to get anything going on offense. Defensively they get Lowell, I believe it was Lowell, was in great position. The ball just gets tipped up and he gets an easy one. It feels like, Man, that thing is getting away from us pretty quick.

I was so proud of the way everybody, players on offense and defense, responded. The defense had a reason to get in a funk. They kept fighting and clawing back. I think it says a lot about the bunch we have here. I think this is going to go a long way to help us, I really do.

Q. Is this the kind of game you were talking about, trying to take the next step, get over the hump, losing to BYU last year, those tough games last year?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: I think a lot more so than we would have pointed to when the season started. Especially if you're down there close, you understand that was a very good, physical football team with a lot of talent on offense. We were able to hold up.

Q. You admitted you felt like there was a point at which it could have gotten away from you.
COACH BLANKENSHIP: There's no question. That first quarter was really ugly from an offensive standpoint. I was flashing back to some of the TV guys, the CBS guys, that were asking, Do you expect this to be one of those 60 55 deals? I thought, No, I didn't think it would. Then all of a sudden it felt like maybe it would get that.

Then the defenses really settled down even more so. We started getting a little more pressure on Carr. There were times, again, when we were a hair away, but we forced him into throwing a little earlier than he wanted to. Some of that was the difference.

Q. Six years with this program. Is this as good or perhaps the best defensive performance you can remember from an opponent?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: I haven't even looked at the stats. I tell you, I felt like our defense, it allowed us to be a little more, gosh, I hate to say conservative, but we were not going to try to lose it on offense. I mean, we're playing well enough on defense that we kept thinking we could get something, we break it loose, get Ja'Terian in the open. Then we got in the mode in the fourth quarter, let's try to go two tight, try to hammer it in there, see if we can run the clock.

Q. On whether he was worried about the defense early in the game
COACH BLANKENSHIP: It didn't feel that way because they're getting points based off of what the offense was doing. So kept reminding ourselves, one of the things the guys in the box kept telling me, Coach, we're playing good defense. There's a part of it from me, that fourth and a foot, you know you can make it. But it doesn't make sense to go after it when you're playing good defense.

Q. The Watts touchdown pass, was that something you went with because of what they were doing or you thought an element of surprise would work at that point?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: Well, they're a very well coached team. That was the play that we had run down on the goal line before the first game that J.T. scored on. It's a play that J.T. broke against the big run against Nichols (phonetic). It's a little unbalanced look. We gave them the same look, but threw off of it.

I felt like they would be well coached enough to really react to the quick pitch. Fortunately we slipped past them.

How about that moon ball? I didn't know if it was ever coming down. Didn't know if we were going to get to it. I knew he was open if we could just get to it.

Q. Did you audition guys to make that pass or was it always Trey's ball?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: That was another one of the tough things, is we had a lot of things like that that Trey was going to be like that. A little bit more of the wildcat package. Once he got slowed down, it kind of took a bunch of that away from us. Yeah, but Trey is the best guy that does that for us. He did it a lot for us last year.

Q. Noisy locker room.
COACH BLANKENSHIP: Locker rooms like that are memorable. That's why you coach.

Q. How helpful was Cole Way helping out the defense?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: I told Coach Guy, I don't know how you could be any prouder of a special teams unit. They did a great job of kicking, kick coverage, knocked them down inside the 20 once or twice, get a punt to roll down to the 1. Then you have a freshman kicker that bangs through every kick he had to have. He's one of the guys we gave a game ball to, because I think that helps him get over that freshman hump.

Q. Timeout before a punt. Couldn't get lined up?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: We were trying to run a fake there and it didn't work. That's my story and I'm sticking with it (smiling).

Q. Like flames were shooting out of your eyes.
COACH BLANKENSHIP: That may have been the case, too.

Q. Turned out to be a really big play.


On the win
"We knew that they were a good football team going in. Their coaching staff came from Texas A&M and put up numbers there so we knew it was going to be a scratch and claw game if we were going to come out with the win. This is a huge statement game for our defense. Not everyday do you throw three interceptions, with two returned for touchdowns, and then come out with the win by one point. So the defense was our best friend. They had a huge game. It was a statement game after giving up points they shouldn't have given up against Nicholls State. They came out with a chip on their shoulder and it showed.

On getting used to the speed of the game, after playing Tulane and Nicholls State
"It wasn't difficult to get used to the speed, it was more how they played. They played kind of like Nicholls State, they just have better athletes. They did a great job of taking away what we usually do, and that's the downhill run game. They took out the short passing game and basically dared us to throw the ball deep. Luckily, we made some really big plays. The trick play that Thomas scored a touchdown on and then Keyarris making the big grab, and Jordan James having a breakout game. That was the difference for our offense."

On Jordan James' third down reception at the end
"That was huge."


On the pass from Trey Watts
"I'm not going to lie, it was probably the toughest catch I've had in a long time. I mean, the time it stayed up in the air, and running blind not looking at the ground I had no idea if I was in-bounds or not. He threw it like a typical running back, terribly. I was wide-open and I was just like `give me the ball,' and he rainbowed it to Mars and back. It was a good throw by him and I'm glad I made the catch."


On the overall game
"We talked all week about how the toughest team was going to find a way to win. Unfortunately, Tulsa found a way to get it done. We lost this thing in all three phases of the game. We were out coached, and we have to do a better job."

On the Fresno State defense
"We did some good things on defense. Down the stretch, we have to get off the field. We gave up a fourth down play where they ended up scoring a touchdown throwing it over the top of us. We have to be more consistent. We are making improvements on defense, but we didn't make enough plays to win the football game."

On the offense being held scoreless for the final three quarters
"They have a good defense. They did some things defensively to make it tough for us. We had some long fields. When we got to the red zone, we had a couple of turnovers. We missed a field goal when we were in point blank territory. It just wasn't on the offense."

On the Tulsa defense
"They were doing a good job mixing their coverages up. They did a decent job pressuring the quarterback. We knew coming in that they had a good defense. That is what they do. There is a reason why they are leading the country in sacks, and they did a good job mixing up their coverages."

On jumping out to an early lead but losing the game
"It is frustrating any time you lose. We knew Tulsa was going to be a team that was not going to lie down just because we scored a couple of touchdowns early. We knew it was going to be a long game. We have to do a better job sustaining. Coaching wise, we allowed our guys to have a little bit of a letdown, we didn't keep it up, and we have to get that fixed."

On Fresno State's special teams
"Clearly, all three phases of our special teams had some issues. We let a punt hit the ground and roll to the one yard line. Another time we had the ball at the 42 yard line, we had a chance to pin them down, and we punted it into the end zone. We missed two extra points, and we missed a field goal. There are a lot of different things that happened during the game. It wasn't offense, it wasn't defense, it wasn't special teams, and it was just a combination of all three."

On Trey Watt's halfback pass to Thomas Roberson for a touchdown
"They had run that particular play, in that particular situation when they toss the ball into the boundary. We have a guy assigned to look at the tight end down the field. Obviously he didn't cover him, so they were able to hit the receiver."

On being surprised by the halfback pass
"No, we knew it. They had done a good job when they put the formation in the boundary. They quick snap it, and they are typically running a power toss and trying to outflank you before you can get lined up. We knew plays coming off of it. We practiced for it, we just didn't execute it."

On the loss
"Any time you lose, I don't know if there are varying degrees. A loss is a loss. You go fix it on Monday."

On takeaways from the game against Tulsa
"We have a lot of work to do. We have to find a way to win a game in the fourth quarter when it is a one score game. We talked about this all week. We have to be mentally tougher, especially when you go on the road to win a game in the fourth quarter. We didn't make enough plays offensively, defensively or on special teams to get that done. We have to get that done."

On the possibility of letting Tulsa score late in the game so Fresno State could get the ball back
"No. We thought up until they got the last one (first down) that possibly we would get the ball back with some time. We thought we could strip the ball. But no, that wasn't part of the discussion."


On the game
"We came out and started great, we started fast. If you win a game like this, you overlook the bad things. It's kind of good we had a loss. Now we can see that we can't practice the way we did. Or now guys see we can't do certain things the way we did. It's only going to make us better.

"I loved how we practiced. There just were a couple of things, here and there, that we talked about in our room that we've got to do better. And it shows in the fourth quarter. the best part about is we know what to do to fix it. If we didn't, that'd be a problem."

On the Tulsa Defense
"They play a cover three and cover four. When we had tight ends on side, they'd switch the safety and corner for more run support. And we knew exactly what they were doing. They didn't disguise things. I saw their coverages really well. Me and Robbie picked up their pressures.

"It's nothing that they did, which is hard. It hurts. At the same time, they're a great team and capitalize when you make mistakes. It's tough every time on a third down, coming off the field. It's awful, especially when we know what we're capable of doing. Because you're sitting there, saying to yourself `It shouldn't be like this.' We know what to do to correct it.

"Now San Diego State gets to play a pretty upset Bulldog team coming up here real soon.

"They weren't going to let us throw the ball down field. They might have watched a little film on [receiver Isaiah] Burse corner post on people and started back off him. They were playing a cover 4 and a cover 3 and made sure they played over the top. It wasn't really a man-to-man out there.

"They're trying to force everything in front of them. There were a few times maybe we could've had a shot but the situation didn't permit it [the deep ball]. That's why it's tough. They were just trying to keep everything in front of them and hopefully make the tackles."