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Tulsa Football Press Conference Transcript

Tulsa running back Trey Watts
Tulsa running back Trey Watts
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Sept. 24, 2013

Tulsa, Oklahoma -

Tulsa Head Coach Bill Blankenship:

Opening Statement: "Coming off of a bye week or an open week, you're just really anxious to play. You get into that rhythm."

"We're excited to take on Iowa State in a rematch of the Liberty Bowl. This is a unique situation, playing them for the third time in 13 months. Folks have talked about that. It is certainly unique in the college world."

There is an inconvenience and a disruption in routine that comes with a Thursday game, but how much value is there in having a 3½-hour, prime-time national television window? "This Thursday fits well in the system. I don't mind having an extra two or three days to prepare, and an extra two or three days when we're done. The exposure will be good. It will be a national audience. There aren't as many games on a Thursday night, so you get a chance for your recruits to see what we're about. And for our own people, it's an opportunity to come out and pack the stands."

TU has become accustomed to getting national TV exposure, but is there still a pop within the program when it happens? "Monday Night Football has been around for a long time, and I think if you ask NFL guys, they still get a little jazzed up to play on Monday Night Football. At our level, that's the same kind of thing that you get. If you know you've got a night game - in a prime-time window, with national exposure - I think we get jazzed up about that."

In the Liberty Bowl you had 60 rush attempts, 317 yards, and played excellent defense. In that you savor physical football, was that game among your favorites since you became the head coach? "Probably, yeah. Since I've been the head coach, for sure. Against a quality opponent, the way the game went - you try to bottle that up and say, `That's a pretty good model.' "

Talk about demoralizing effect of losing guys like Demarco Nelson and Keyarris Garrett: "It's always a blow to your team. You cannot act like it didn't happen or doesn't matter. But every good team I've ever been around, and every coaching staff I've ever been around, can flip the page pretty quickly. Who's going to be the guy. I'll never forget having to talk to our team when we lost (Damaris Johnson in 2011). The first thing G.J. (Kinne) wanted to know was, `Who's going to be in that spot?' And then you just move forward. It's a little bit of a cold business from that standpoint, but it's the only way you can operate as a team - to move forward."



One of the best defensive backs in college football, Demarco Nelson, is laboring daily as a member of the scout team. Talk about him how he's helping: "He's doing everything he can do to help us win. I'm proud of him for that."

What are the differences in the two teams now compared to when you met in December: "I think there are a lot of differences. Philosophically, you don't see much difference in either one of us, but there are a lot of personnel changes. This is just an estimate - I would say there will be 30 new faces on the field for both teams, and maybe more than that, who were not an active part of the Liberty Bowl."

Offensive slump: What's the state of the offense: "We're not performing the same. We're still trying to find ourselves offensively. If you go from game one to two to three, I think we've continued to improve. I think we're a better offense than we were two weeks. It takes a while statistically to catch up."

Cody Green is completing 52-percent of his passes. Can you win with that percentage? "We did last year. We won 11 games last year with that."

Talk about the TU run game that is averaging 120.3 yards per game, down from 245.7 last season: "We've got to block folks and not play from behind. When you play from behind, you don't rush the ball as often. In two of the three games we've played, we've been playing from behind. Statistically, I don't get as bent out of shape as maybe some other people do. If you look at Iowa State, I think they're about 65 percent pass right now. I think if you asked coach Rhoads what they want to be, they'd like to be closer to 60 or 65 percent run. But they've been in the same situation (as TU). When you get behind, you have to play a little different offense."

On Iowa State QB Sam B. Richardson: "He's a dual-threat guy. He can create. Any time you have quarterbacks that can create, they make you a little antsy. They appear to have designed a little more quarterback run into their offense this year. They've certainly changed some of their formations and sets. They're using a little more of what people call the Pistol (formation), with a back in a deep set behind the quarterback. I think that's a direct result of them trying to use what Richardson brings to the table."

On Iowa State program right now: "I think we're probably in the same boat - teams coming off of a successful run a year ago. We're both in search of the next win. We both desperately need to get back on track."

On the opportunity to defeat a Big 12 opponent: "One of the measuring sticks for this program over the last several years has been BCS wins. Notre Dame was our last BCS win until you get to the Liberty Bowl last year with Iowa State. The fact that (the Cyclones) are at a Big 12 school, and they've had some big wins over the years, that's a big motivation for us. I think we will always try to measure ourselves against the BCS-caliber teams, and this is the next opportunity."

On the young TU secondary that gave up big plays against Oklahoma: "We certainly realized very quickly that . . . (OU's) receiving corps was very athletic. We had trouble matching up in the middle of the field. That was an area that was a big concern coming out of the game. We've had several days of challenging our players to get better. We all knew that we were going to play some young players. I've said it from the beginning - we're talented in some areas, and we were assuming we had a talented safety (senior Demarco Nelson, suspended for the entire season because of an academic issue). We have a completely brand-new secondary this year. Nobody back there has played a lot of games. I think they've held up pretty well, except for the exposure we got from a very athletic Oklahoma receiving corps. We've got to play better. We can't be rookies for a long time. This is game four. We've got to start settling in."