BILL BLANKENSHIP PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
Oct. 29, 2013
Tulsa, Okla. - -
Opening Statement: "Coming off of a loss in New Orleans, we were very disappointed. We know how critical a game it was. It was not lost on me or my players. We couldn't seem to get out of our own way. We stepped on ourselves several times with turnovers and penalties. We played well defensively, except we give up a 13-play drive right before halftime. Never once did I feel like we were going to lose the game. That's what makes it tougher.
"Lost in the disappointment in all of those mistakes was really good play by Stetson Burnett. He graded out incredibly high as an offensive lineman. He's continuing to play at a very high level. Donnie Hawkins had a good day at linebacker. He's a guy that hasn't seen as much action as a lot of the other players, but he played well. Will Barrow continues to really improve at the safety spot. He had a very solid game. The interception and return was very good, and he had a solid day all the way around."
"The defensive unit had an exceptional day. You would think that would be what we need to win. We only gave up one explosive play. One long pass was the only explosive we gave up."
"It's special to me because Larry Coker was my last quarterback coach my senior year here at the University of Tulsa. We began to develop a relationship then that has carried over. I've been a big admirer. I was a huge fan when he won his first national championship at Miami. I was right there, rooting for him again when he was a hair away from getting his second. He's done a good job of putting that (UTSA) program together. They're very impressive in what they've done (in only three seasons of the program's existence). It will be certainly a tough ballgame for us."
On the team's morale: "Not very good, from a standpoint that there is a frustration, (but) I don't know that I've ever been prouder of they way they responded on Sunday. The routine is that they come in and (lift weights) and do some running. So coach (Adam) Davis, our strength-and-conditioning coach, has those guys first. When he came to give me the report, he said, `Coach, it may have been one of the best Sundays we've had. They're a little beat up, but I haven't seen a more determined, hard-working Sunday.' That gave me some encouragement. When we finish, we always end our drills with a cool-down stretch. Usually, there's one guy that steps forward to lead that group. On Sunday, 11 seniors walked to the front. It was a very visible statement that was not lost on me or our team. In one vein, I would tell you that morale is tough right now. In another, the look that I see in their eye - the grit and determination - may be the best since the season started."
On trying to sustain positive morale: "I think it's important that the leaders never panic. You've got to take responsibility and have a plan. Our guys understand our plan. They are growing in the plan. We're not going to be different today than we were five weeks ago. We're not going to be different in our approach. Over the years, we've kind of figured out that we know how to do it. I think it's important that your players sense that from you."
On quarterback Cody Green's status for Saturday: "Cody, we believe, should be better. He didn't play (at Tulane), so he shouldn't be any worse. His status will be the same as it was last week. If he's healthy and ready to go, he'll be our quarterback. He's got to be near 100 percent to be able to move around and be as active as he needs to be in protecting the football."
On red-shirt freshman quarterback Dane Evans: "Dane had some really good moments last week, but he had some freshman moments. Those freshman moments typically come because you don't have the experience yet. There is no easy way to get experience. Experience probably is defined as having bad things happen to you, and you learn from them. That's the best teacher that quarterbacks have. Dane will be much better the next time he's on the field. There will be some of the mistakes he made in throwing the ball late over the middle - he won't do that again."
"Dane was devastated, but I've seen enough from him to know he ain't broken. I'm a big fan. I think Dane is going to be fine. We're going to be looking back at that really rough day he had when he first started in New Orleans."
On the resilience of TU players: "Competitors have an incredible heart. At all levels, do you really think about how special young men are that are willing to go out, in front of thousands of people, and risk failure? My guess is, 99.9 percent of the world would (quit) after failure. And yet competitors, like Dane and many of our players, it's incredible - you have your heart completely stomped out in front of everybody. Hurt, humiliated, embarrassed. And what will they be willing to do on Saturday? You watch. They'll go out there on Skelly Field, at Chapman Stadium, and risk it again. I think that's incredible."
Your defense has given up only four offensive touchdowns over the last 10 quarters of conference play: "If you go back and check the quotes, I think I told you that by midseason, I thought we would be a really good defense. I thought also that we would be a really good offense, so I'm 50-50 on that. Honestly, we knew we had good, young talent. I did not suspect that we would be as beat up as we were and still survive defensively. It's been harder. But I think we have a great group of coaches and (players) who are buying into the system. What's rewarding is when you see young men that haven't been coached very long, and they're doing what you ask them to do because they're trusting you."
On the emergence of freshman Will Barrow at free safety: "Will was recruited as a corner. His size is not an issue at corner, and he's really a good corner. . . . Will is a different young man. He's pretty special, and I'm not talking athletically. He is a leader. He's sharp. He learns fast. As a freshman, he got moved to safety, and he in two weeks, he was telling some of the veterans what the checks are and what to do. Those guys are rare. We'd like for him to be bigger, but he's been a sure tackler."
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