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Tulsa Postgame Quotes vs UTEP

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Oct. 11, 2012

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TULSA HEAD COACH Bill Blankenship

Q. Going into the half it looked like it was going to be another close game. What adjustments did you make and sparked you for the third quarter?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: Just encouraged them to execute a little better and finish drives. We got in there twice, and had to kick field goals offensively. We were playing well on defense. Still we were playing a little soft early on, and I'm talking about at the perimeter, and we just had to stay the course and played with a little more passion. I thought we were really sluggish in the first half.

Q. Did it seem like it was disjointed?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: Like a Thursday game? Yeah.

Q. It was a funky game.
COACH BLANKENSHIP: Yeah, it felt like we had trouble getting everything from timeouts to it just seemed like it was a hard game to get in the flow of, no doubt.

Q. What play in the third quarter sparked you guys? Was it the long touchdown?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: Oh, I think that was a big one without a doubt. I think J.T.'s run, I thought Zack Langer did a great job of spelling Alex. We had a pretty good drive going and Alex got winded and we needed to get him out, and Zack Langer powered in there and made a couple of plays. Then a big catch late in the game also kind of just kept seemed like UTEP was crawling back in, trying to get some momentum, and I thought Zack did a good job of helping us kind of close the door on them.

Q. On the Douglas run, didn't they go about halfway up the field and get called back? Did you notice that?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: He thought we were going to our heavy personnel, and we did not, yeah. We don't run Alex on that sweep.

Q. How big was the defensive stop on the goal line?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: Huge, yeah. We had actually made some pretty key mistakes getting down in there, if I remember right. I think that was the same drive that we had the PI that extended it. You know, we just kept fighting, and just really proud that defensively it's just another great reminder to play every play, play every play. Because you know what, if you're on the sideline with me watching, you're just going, golly. It looks like they're going to score.



We just keep fighting. That was a huge play to just kind of fight through and look for the ball.

Q. Cory talked on Monday about how in these close games no panic on the side. At the half, what was their demeanor?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: The guys' demeanor was good. Mine wasn't real good because I wanted more passion. I'm okay with there's not a panic. Not a concern of anything more than just play hard. I felt like we were this close to playing hard, but we did not ever cut loose and really there was just a difference. You can see it.

When you're playing and you're actually executing, but you're not playing with passion and that was really my encouragement at halftime.

Q. Did you notice Cole Way's tackle?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: I did. I was a little concerned by it, frankly. The guy is knocked I don't want to say snapped in half, but he smoked the guy it looked like from the sideline.

Q. The guy's forward progress died on the spot.
COACH BLANKENSHIP: Yeah, there is no telling what he'll want to do next week. But it was from the sideline, it looked like a big time tackle. If we could actually make those guys practice tackling, that's one thing. Hopefully we have learned.

Q. Shawn Jackson scored on the fumble recovery. What's he bring to your defense?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: DT tells me that's the third time in his career that he's scored a defensive touchdown. I think that's one of the things he brings to the defense. He is a playmaker. He has a nose. He almost picked an out cutoff and would have probably gone six on that one. Just, again, he makes me smile because you watch him, and he doesn't look like he should be able to do what he does, and yet he just has a way of making plays.

Q. Singleton ties the school record tonight.

Q. Has he gone from a guy maybe a packaged-for, to a planned-for, to a guy that when we need a lift?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: No question. No question. The thing about Alex is he now to me has inserted himself in the three man rotation as opposed to just being a guy that we needed at certain times. He really has become a force for us. It's given us a whole different dimension that's kind of like throwing a curveball or a changeup.

You know, we hit him with this, hit him with this, and then they've got that guy coming downhill at him. So it helps us in terms of kind of changing things up in the run game.

Q. It looked like right before the half and right after the half you've got two drives, almost 14 minutes. We're going to pound away at it. Was that ever on your part?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: Yeah, but we needed to dink it around a little bit too. I know in the second half we were effective in throwing some short balls that were trying to make the defense play honest. Sneak guys in the box and throw it out there. I thought we did a good job second half of making that more productive. That first drive in the second half, I think, maybe immediately after that. We're doing a little better job.

But that's part of to me just an extended run game. We're not trying to get too fancy about it. Just trying to make them play honest in the box.

Q. Everybody else in the country set an open date except for you, it seems like. So if there was a little funky feel tonight, was it maybe they just need a couple days?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: Well, I know we do. And the thing that's nice about a Thursday, and we've already talked about this, even though it's not an open date, it's an open weekend. We'll get two of those here in the next three weeks. I think we're ready for it.

We need to get ready and go 1 0 next week and try to get rested up and healed up, but right now we need to finish. I'm really proud of them. They've been very focused a week at a time, going 1 0 that week.

Q. You've had three or four flurries this year where you've scored three or four touchdowns. Is that where you can counter the 14 play drive where you plot your defense with enough athleticism?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: Yeah, I think if we don't fumble a ball early on like after a passing run, I think we've got some ways to mix it up a little bit. I think we'll get even better as we go. But I'm very encouraged with where we are. We're finding that identity, and it's not always pretty, but it sure is effective.

Q. You get that Bowl eligibility, are you guys excited?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: No, we're excited to have six wins, no doubt, but it's early in the season. In fact, I haven't thought about it until you said it. I may go celebrate on that one. That's pretty good.

I like that we've got six wins in seven weeks. The truth is we've got six wins in six weeks. So now we need to get another win, and then we'll have a down week, but it's a big deal for us to have an extra day or two to get ready for Rice.

Q. Not long ago six wins was a big deal. It really was when you start counting down. Four games, then three. Now here you are.
COACH BLANKENSHIP: Well, we sure would like to take credit for that, but I think that's been the standard that's been set here from what I inherited, so we'll continue it, hopefully.

Q. Then is it safe to say you would still like to do more effective passing?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: Sure. Yeah, we missed a few early in the game. But by the same token, it's that same old story. I think Cody missed a couple that he should have had. Then later on we drop a couple. But we're going to get better. It's something that we know we need to improve. It's like we're not practicing on it every day.

Q. Cody was out at the beginning of the fourth. He's fine?
COACH BLANKENSHIP: Yeah, there was no reason to continue playing him if they hadn't scored again. I put him back in because we need his leadership, and then we went right back down and got another one. I felt like that kind of iced it. But I was hoping that we had iced it, and then we let them get behind us on a big play and get a two point conversion. You just kind of felt the wind suck out of our defense.


On the defense sparking the second half
"After the first half, we went to the locker room and said `this isn't cutting it.' So we came together and we talked about it and we corrected. And at least on the defense side we said `win, win, win, win. We've got to create something.' We couldn't count on the offense like we had been the past couple weeks, and we answered."

On the overall performance of the defense
"When you go through two weeks of close games, it makes you think about what's wrong and what you need to change. Sometimes maybe changing where you sit on the bus can help. So we changed as a team, and decided we were tired of the close games because we are trying to win a conference championship, and if we want to do that we can't keep having close games like we have been. We started off pretty good - decent, but not good enough. But then at halftime, we picked it up. Like I said, we are trying to win a conference championship and it's been seven years since we've been there and it's time we change that."


On the defensive score
"It was great. It was a big spark. Coach said on the sideline that we just need to score on defense. So we made it happen. I think Jared St. John knocked it loose, and I just ran with it."

On what he brings to the defense
"Experience. It's my third year, since I played as a freshman. I wanted to help with anything I could do when I came back from my suspension. I just told the guys that we were just going to pick up from where we left off."


On the running game
"Our guys are giving a lot of push up front and then our running backs are just making it happen. It's a big plus that we are doing so well on offense. We are doing really well."

On his ability to break tackles
"Well, if they aren't going to wrap me up, it's an advantage for me. I just kept my legs moving, and I kept going forward. I feed off the bounces, every time I get one I just think get the next one, get the next one."


On the overall game
"I thought that we showed a lot of courage, we were tough as a team. The defense played as well as anybody that has played against Tulsa this year as they scored 26 points against the defense. We certainly had opportunities offensively. Very frustrated being at the one yard line and not being able to get in there. They were stacking it, and we thought we could run the ball against Tulsa, and we were wrong. We thought we could protect and we didn't protect very well either. They are a pretty good defense. I thought that our guys ran hard, and tried hard and gave a good effort."

On UTEP's injuries
"Both the quarterbacks played as hard as they could play, maybe not as good as they could have played, but they showed their toughness and grit. We had a lot of guys on our team that were injured this game and were banged up and still played. There were guys that were hurt that played, and certainly you have to give credit to our players for that. We got beat fair and square."

On Nick Lamaison's injury
"He couldn't run and they were blitzing. If you can't throw it hot and get rid of the ball quick, you better be able to run. He was pretty limited. To me, he had a pulled hamstring and had a knot in it. He pulled it pretty good, and at half time he was favoring it too."

On the UTEP offense
"We have to execute better. We have to block the correct guy, and we have to give the quarterback more time. We had too many turnovers. We have to score touchdowns, and we had those type of opportunities."

On not being able to score when UTEP had the ball at the Tulsa one yard line
"We have to score touchdowns when we have those opportunities. Maybe we had to throw the ball four times, but we sure couldn't run it in there. They were loading the box, but sometimes you have to go in there and jam it up in there. They certainly did. Was there any doubt that they were going to run the ball?"

On having 10 days until UTEP plays its next game
"We have to get well. We have ten days to change it around. We are going to take a break and give them some rest. We are going to meet after school with our team tomorrow, but I am going to give them at least a day off so they can recuperate and sleep in, and then we will get together Sunday. They need the rest. This has been a hard September and hard first part of October. We need to give our players rest and we need to get them healthy. They have done a great job. This team is a wonderful bunch of young men and they give great effort and I am real proud to be their coach, and there is nobody else I would want to be with than this football team."