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Oct. 5, 2013

Recap |  Final Stats |  Notes

TULSA HEAD COACH Bill Blankenship

Did you consider in the overtime taking a shot in the end zone?
"Yes, we did. We kept thinking we were a hair from breaking our runs. Two or three times we were just at the point of seeing Trey and JT to break it. We felt like it was a percentage deal. Yes, there was discussion as to whether or not to throw it."

Despite the loss, Trey had a solid game today, can you talk about his play?
"Trey's been doing it as long as he's been here. He's a warrior. He's a guy you want to be touching the ball when it's a critical time of the game. I thought he had a real solid game."

You talked about earlier in the week about balancing passing and rushing. It looks like you focused on running the game
"One or the other, and we made the decision that was going to be important."

There in the middle of the game you got extremely conservative
"You really can't do it both ways. You either have to try to run the ball or not run the ball. If we're trying to emphasize the running game, try to get that going. If that's conservative, then we got conservative. We came into this game saying very clearly as a staff, and from me, we wanted to make sure and run the football. We felt that if we did it enough, we'd break some big plays."

How much of that decision plays into the struggles you had throwing the ball?
"If we were doing a great job throwing the football, we'd keep doing that. Those are the discussions we have all week, and every week. We feel like our personality has been at our best the last two years when we're running the football, and so we just said we weren't going to get into that trap again of giving up too quickly in the running game."

If you're able to clear your head and consider your options, whether it's personnel, play-calls or whatever, what we're you thinking when you had two picks on consecutive drives?
"It doesn't matter to anybody else, because I'm pretty sure that Tulsa fans were booing me, not one of our players. I can't believe that a Tulsa fan would boo our players. But if you actually knew what was going on, you wouldn't replace the quarterback when he did exactly what he was supposed to do and the route had been run a certain way all week long and it didn't get run that way. From that standpoint, it's hard to say, well just because everyone wants you to go make a change when the quarterback is doing what he's supposed to do. It's the whole team. I keep saying that over and over again. We have to execute as a team."



So you were fine with him throwing that ball with pressure and everything else involved in that play?
"He was expecting the receiver to break inside just like he did in practice all week long. You can't wait for a receiver to break to throw it on time, and when he threw it at the timing that he did, that's one of those things I don't hold him accountable for. The second throw may have been a little high, may have been a little hard. That was definitely not as good a throw. But the first one was a critical deal because it was on our end of the field and quick turnover, and I think they turned it into points."

What did you tell your team after the game?
"Just how incredibly proud of how they fought. It was a kick in the gut. There is nobody that hates losing more than me, no matter what you think. While that's a huge disappointment, that is tempered by how we fought to the very last play. You never get over the hump with a team until you learn how to fight, and this team fought incredibly hard."

You set the bar real high and now you're 1-4?
"There is no question we set the bar high. I've never accomplished anything great in life setting the bar low, and we won't ever set the bar low. Are we incredibly disappointed? Absolutely, and I think folks should be deservedly disappointed and upset with that. I have no problem with that."


On the play call decisions in overtime
"The play call that we had was working all day. In overtime, you either play to let your defense win the game for you, or you take your chances. Going first, you have to play more conservatively because you don't want to be the one to miss a field goal. You can't go for it on fourth down against a kicker like the one Rice has. He has a leg that can convert from fifty yards out. Coach Blankenship did a great job of getting us points and putting us in a position to win the game."

On the difference between Tulsa's first half and second half
"We just have to get it rolling. It has to start with the seniors. We have been saying it all year. We have to put an entire game together."

On execution issues during the game
"We are trying to do too much. Sometimes we try to play outside of the system. On crucial downs, you have to play inside the play call and the situation. We just really need to execute."

On the negative reaction from fans
"It is not the first time I have been booed, and it won't be the last. I am used to it."

On switching Trey Watts from a receiving threat to a rushing threat
"I just want to win. I don't care if we put Trey Watts at quarterback. I just want to win. Being 1-4 is terrible, especially after last year. I know that we can't live on last year, but I hate losing. Trey hates losing. Coach Blankenship hates losing."

On the ability of Tulsa to execute in the second half
"We got fired up in the locker room. We had some miscues early in the third quarter, but we were firing in the fourth quarter. That is when we shined last year, and we're starting to get our mojo back. Hopefully we can carry this into next week."


On Rice's ability to move the ball in the game
"We expected them to be slow, the same way that they showed up on film. They came out with a quicker tempo that forced us to speed up our play calls. We made some adjustments at halftime, and after that, everything seemed to even out."

On the similarities to last year's game against Rice
"I saw that there was one minute left, and Rice had the ball. This is what it came down to last year. We just had to get off the field. They ended up kneeing it and sending it into overtime."

On coming back from a large deficit
"There were definitely positives. You can see a lot of guys growing up on offense and defense. They're making big plays and getting interceptions. We stepped up, and I am proud of what I saw."


On the game
"I'm thrilled to come on the road to Tulsa and get our second conference win. It was in overtime. It was in dramatic fashion. My hat's off to Bill Blankenship and his squad. They played extremely hard. That's a class program and they do it right. Very proud of our football team. This is one where we're excited about winning in overtime. I've got to do a better job as a football coach. Way too many penalties. Way too many poor decisions are being made. That's a direct reflection of me. I've got to make sure that I'm stressing this new sensitivity on the quarterbacks. We get that stop on the two-point conversion, we get a late hit on the quarterback and they score the next time. That's coaching. Late hits out of bounds. There are some things that were very uncharacteristic today. We have to get that fixed if we expect to continue to win football games.

"I'm pleased on how our offensive performed in the first half. Taylor McHargue was incredible. I thought we used nice tempo. Our defense, once again, made plays when we need to make plays. We had three turnovers on the day, all of them in the first half. The one mistake McHargue made at the end of the game, he was trying to throw that ball away. We have to execute the things that we've got to do. I thought Christian Covington was a dominant force on the defensive line that made play after play. Those interceptions were a direct result of him getting in front of (Cody) Green where he couldn't rotate them and throw the football. I'm thrilled to leave here a winner, but we have a lot of work to do. We have expectations for the first time in this program. We've got to learn to play with expectations."

On the last play
"They went to a bunch set over there and there are a bunch of routes going on and Darik (Dillard) ran a wheel, but it was nice that no one was covering him."

On the offensive clicking during the first two possessions
"That's what we have to figure out. We did the same thing against Texas A&M. We came out and on our first two drives were incredible. We've got to continue to work and preach on getting more consistent on offensively. We have some big play people and we've got to play better."

On trading the turnovers
"When we traded those turnovers, had we gotten a possession, some points on there, this football game would have been probably over at that point. I was thrilled. That was Christian Covington when they drove it right before half. Christian was the one that fished the ball from (Trey) Watts on that turnover. We didn't get points and they didn't get points, so at least it was a wash."

On Tulsa's running game
"That's one of the things that coach Blankenship is working on is consistency. Trey Watts is a fabulous running back, he and Douglas both. They are the premier backs in this league."


On the first two drives
"They did a good job getting us out of our rhythm on first down. We were able to move the ball so well on the first two drives because we were getting big chunks of yardage on first down. When you get second and short or a new set of downs, its really easy to keep that tempo up. We've got to do a better job executing especially in the second half. We came out with too many three-and-outs or had drives stall around midfield. It's tough to pick up the tempo again when you are only getting a yard or two on first down."

On having influence on that call
"I did not. Credit to coach Regan. That's one that we've talked about at halftime as an adjustment. No. 55 (Shawn Jackson) brought a ton of pressure on us and we were having a tough time picking him up and we knew he was coming on that play. Darik (Dillard) was out of the backfield and give ground long enough for him to get open and it worked out well for us."

On the memories walking off the field last season
"Sloppy towards the end. It's hard to win on the road and I don't care who you are playing, especially a team like this, this talented. I'm proud that we closed it out, and I think that's a sign of how good this team is and how much better we can be that we shot ourselves in the foot, especially offensively, but that we rallied and made the plays that we needed to win it at the end. This was, once again, for Ms. Joyce, breast cancer awareness month. This was for her."