Facebook.com Twitter.com YouTube.com

Blankenship Holds Weekly Press Conference

Tulsa head football coach Bill Blankenship
Tulsa head football coach Bill Blankenship
Football Home

HEADLINES
TULSA FOOTBALL 3-GAME MINI-PAK TICKET PLAN GOES ON SALE

TULSA AND UL-LAFAYETTE AGREE TO FOOTBALL SERIES

TULSA'S MICHAEL MUDOH IS ALLSTATE AFCA GOOD WORKS TEAM NOMINEE

RELATED LINKS

Skelly Field

Tulsa Football on Facebook

Tulsa Football on Twitter

NATIONAL COVERAGE

CBSSports.com Football

Top 25 Rankings

Blog


Sept. 26, 2011

TULSA, Okla. - Tulsa head football coach Bill Blankenship held his weekly press conference Monday morning. He discussed the recent loss to No. 4 Boise State, and he also talked about the team's upcoming non-conference meeting with North Texas.

Below is a full transcript of the press conference.

OPENING STATEMENT
There's some difficulty with our staff and our players accepting the fact that we're 1-3. We're disappointed in that. As disappointed as we are, we try to be realistic as we look at the schedule and realize that three of our losses come to teams ranked in the top five in the nation. That's the reality of it. The difficulty is our guys are ready to win again, as are we.

After evaluating the film, again, certainly some of our difficulty falls back on the fact that we are starting slow, especially on offense. We have far too many turnovers and have to do a better job of taking care of the football against anybody you play, but certainly against good football teams that take advantage of it.

We're still getting real good play from Curnelius Arnick, who tallied another 18 tackles. I'm very excited about the way he's playing. Dexter McCoil at safety had a very solid performance. We were excited to see some really good play out of Brentom Todd at defensive end.

Offensively, Clay Sears continues to develop as a consistent player at tight end and receiver. I'm pretty pleased with the offensive line coming out of that ball game against Boise State. That's a unit defensively that had eight sacks coming into that game and led the nation in sacks last year. We gave up no sacks so we are very pleased with that.

Kevin Fitzpatrick continues to really shine in his senior year and knocked the ball through the end zone several times on kickoffs and has been consistent not only on game day, but in practice as well.

 

 

On the play of Brentom Todd...
One of the things we have really been needing is a little more pass rush and we have been trying to get into various personnel groups. One of the things Brentom's play has been doing is allow us to move Cory (Dorris) and Tyrunn (Walker) down inside some to get some matchup issues on the pass rush and that's been very helpful and we'll continue to look at those options. Brentom is a young man that we are excited about. We're excited about his development. We thought he could be a good player, but he is actually probably developing a little faster than we assumed in the beginning.

On North Texas...
North Texas got a huge win versus a Big Ten School, Indiana. They ran out to a 24-0 early lead and really, almost flukeishly, Indiana got back into it late. There's no question when you watch the film, North Texas dominated that game from start to finish.

On if the offense can truly judge itself after playing such strong competition...
There are certainly some gains that we have made. We have a lot better idea about running the football. I think we have been consistent for four weeks and able to move the football on the ground. I think we have been sporadic about where we are in the passing game. That's why I think it's good that Clay Sears is becoming more of a weapon. We got consistent play out of most of our guys. We didn't get (Bryan Burnham) loose like we want to get loose. We missed a couple of opportunities there. It does put us behind about where we are we? We clearly aren't a top five offense because we're not competing at that level.

On if the team met the expectations of the first month of the season...
No, we didn't meet them because I really thought we'd at least get one win over those three teams, if not two.

On if the expectations were realistic...
I've coached 28 years. I don't remember coaching a game that I didn't think we could win. We understand that, when the opponent is a very good opponent that you have to play at a high level to win those games. I can assure you that we went into each of those thinking that we had a plan and a way to win those games.

On the positives from the first month of the season...
The positives are many, but they are outweighed by the negatives when you look at the scoreboard. I've talked about this for the pastwo-to-three weeks. We're getting excellent play from our offensive line. We've found running backs that can consistently move the ball and it's not just one. Ja'Terian Douglas had some good runs inside the tackles against Boise State, which was an area where he hasn't done as well at. That's encouraging. Pass protection has been really good. If you go back to defense, we're playing against one of the top offenses in the country and held them under their average. As ugly as it felt, it was still better than most people do against them. We continue to see really good play from certain players up front. Curnelius being one and I've already mentioned Dexter. The exciting thing is we've been able to do that with a hobbled-up secondary and I think we'll get a little help next week and get some guys back in the rotation that we've been missing. I'm anxious to see how we will respond and I feel good about it.

On if the North Texas game is a big one for the team...
I think it's real big. Winning solves a whole lot of issues. We all want to get back on the winning track. I really wish North Texas wasn't really good, but unfortunately they've shown they are a much improved team and playing at a much higher level. It's going to take a great effort from us to get going and get out of the gates quickly. If you analyze where we are, we haven't started well in any game except the Oklahoma State game and that was after a three-hour delay. I don't know if that counts as starting fast.

On if the knee injury to quarterback G.J. Kinne was the primary cause of his turnovers...
Not really. If you look back at it, the first one we were throwing a deep post route and the receiver wasn't able to get inside the corner, who kept good leverage. The ball was a little underthrown, but we busted the protection and he had a guy in his face that kept him from following through. There was another interception where their linebacker made a tremendous play on on a screen pass where he read it and jumped outside and we didn't see him. The last was a bad throw. If you look at film, G.J. saw the safety roll back to the middle of the field, thought he was gone and when he threw the ball, didn't see him redirect and come back to the sideline. That's probably why they wear blue jerseys with blue helmets and blue uniforms.

On the advantage Boise State had wearing all blue uniforms on their blue turf...
I think there's a reason the Mountain West (Conference) won't allow them to wear blue at home.

On if Kinne lobbied to play this week...
I think there was some misunderstanding. It wasn't that he lobbied to play. He was healthy enough to play. It was more or less `Coach, I'm ready.' When we make those decisions, we don't make them isolated. We make them with a team trainer and then we have a full contingent of doctors that are there every day and they clear them or don't clear them. I don't make those decisions. He assured me that he was ready to play and that was on Tuesday.

On whether Kinne would've played had this not been his senior year...
In my opinion, there wouldn't have been any difference. I think people made some decisions based on information they got that we didn't have that was erroneous. He would have played if this were three years ago. It had nothing to do with him being a senior.

On if the game slows down after having played three top-5 teams...
They will have seen a high level of prepared teams. If you talk about the difference between a top 10 team and the rest of our Conference USA teams, I'm not sure there's a huge level of difference player to player. What you see if a full contingent, a whole defense that plays at a higher speed. Boise is a great example of not necessarily of there not have that much greater talent, but they are just so well coached and play at such a high level, they don't make that many mistakes. When you are playing against the better teams in the country, thatsee: those teams that don't make as many mistakes and give you opportunities. The athleticism is certainly different, but it isn't as stark a contrast as people think.

On the comparisons of TU's 2005 season to this year, when the team was 0-2 prior to playing North Texas...
Our guys have talked about it. They were adamant in the locker room after the game. I was incredibly encouraged, in a weird sort of way, by the sideline early in the third quarter. Our guys didn't fold the tent. They didn't check it in. They were very much into the game and finishing this contest, even when we were down a lot. I'd like to think that character will show up down the season. No one can predict where we will be. I know we have players on this team are adamant that we are going to win a conference championship. For that to happen, we have to get back on track and this is the week that we have to do it. This isn't a conference game, but it is our first week at home, which feels like a whole month. Hopefully we'll have home field advantage.

On the resiliency of the defense this season...
Again, we just keep bringing it up. Three of the four teams we played are not only in the top five, but their offenses are some of the best in the country. To really measure where our guys our defensively, it's going to be several weeks before we see. I'm encouraged, but that's measured against three losses, which is tough to explain to people. In context, you look at the film and those guys are pretty good. Early in the game, they snapped the ball at the one-yard line and we stopped them. I was very encouraged by that. It was the opening drive and we had a couple of things happen. And to be able to hold them and to actually create a turnover on the 1-yard line. It was absolutely huge. It's not characteristic of Boise State teams. Is it them or is it us? Hopefully a little of both. The other side of it, if you listened to Coach Petersen after the game, he was very discouraged with their inability to establish the running game. I don't know if we felt that way, but it gives you some idea of how they felt going into other contests that they had. How do you know? We'll see this week going into North Texas.

On who he expects to return from injury this week in the secondary...
We expect DeAundre (Brown) to be back, and we expect Lowell (Rose) to be back.

On the emotional carryover of losing George Clinkscale...
Our upperclassmen really had a hard time with that. Our juniors and seniors were guys that played with him for two or three years. The fact that George was still around. He had just been at the CFL training camp with Paul Smith and they'd been together and, after he was released, he came back to town. He and his fiancée were expecting his second child. He was around a lot. He was in our locker room lobby during the lightning delay of the OSU game. He was visiting not only with me and our staff, but our players. That's tough. That's not like a guy that's been around a long time and nobody knows him. With that balance, there are two years of classes and half of our team that doesn't know George Clinkscale. It's not an emotional thing for those guys as much as the ones who might have seen him around. You are talking about one of their teammates and one of their close friends. There are no shortcuts. Death is hard to deal with at any time, but for a youngster who, to the best of our knowledge, had no illness or anything, it was highly unexpected and it was a tough blow for everyone.

On how the coaching staff can help the team cope with the loss of one of their own...
You just try to walk through it with them. The reality of life is that we deal with these things. Death is as much a part of life as any other part. It's just the part we don't like to talk about or deal with. It's one of the things I've learned, in the short time of being head coach, but also having been here for four years now. It's almost a monthly deal that we have one of our family. A grandparent, a parent, a brother, a sister ... I think it is almost shocking is you were to look at your 105 players and realize how much and how often we are touched by tragedy and have to walk through this with your teammates and your family. I think the answer is just simply we have to do it together. It's why we're going to be a part of a memorial service on this campus on Tuesday. I think it's important. It's important for our guys to be a part of celebrating George's life and honoring his family, which will come up to see his other family. I don't know all the psychological parts of all that, but I do believe that it's healthy to that you have to go through it together.

On if there is a good story about Clinkscale...
Probably more the way George was. George was just very cool. He loved to act like he didn't care. He had this real tough, crusty exterior and then he'd catch you off by yourself and put this big bear hug on you. That crust really fell off of him when that first little girl was born. Being a dad was a big deal to him. I love seeing that face on a guy when, all the sudden, they go from being this college kid to `I'm a dad.' It meant something to him.

On a majority of the team giving their per diem from the Boise State trip to George's family...
What I liked about it this most was that I had two different players, G.J. Kinne and Curnelius Arnick, that came to me on Friday and said they'd like to talk to the team and see if they'd be willing to do that. We made it clear that no one had to feel that this was something ... if they needed that money, they needed that money and don't feel bad about it. George was working basically two jobs and the young lady had been working at a really good job and was backing off of her hours since she was getting ready to go on maternity leave. It's my understanding that they don't have insurance. That just meant a lot to our players. They took their travel per diem and most all of the guys just signed their name and put it back in the pot for George. Actually for Cocoa and the babies.

On how Boise State would stack up against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State...
Boise State, I believe, can play with them on any given day. I don't believe they are as talented as either one of them. Boise State is a very good football team. They are extremely well-coached and a tough, disciplined football team.

On what he thought of allowing CBS to have access the football program...
I haven't seen the last show, so I'll reserve a little judgment. I loved getting to know the guys that came. Robert Howe, who did most of the photography, is a Tulsa guy who went to Bishop Kelley. It meant something to him. He and Ashton ... I've been extremely pleased with the way they went about their business. I'll be honest, they asked me several times. I was a little reluctant. You don't know what the angle is. Is somebody trying to create a story or trying to watch? We felt confident that it was a program that we're happy for people to see as long as you see it in context and I've been very pleased so far with the way they've presented what we are doing.