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Bill Blankenship talks to the media on Monday.
Bill Blankenship talks to the media on Monday.
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Nov. 19, 2013

Tulsa, Oklahoma -

Tulsa Head Coach Bill Blankenship Press Conference Transcript

Opening Statement:
"The Marshall game, to summarize, was a real mixture of a lot of pride and a lot of disappointment. Very, very proud of our guys with the way they battled and gave us an opportunity to win. Bottom line, we didn't finish against a very good, veteran (Marshall) football team. That's still the biggest measuring stick that we have and will always be - wins and losses."

"It was very positive to finish plus-3 in turnovers. To get five takeaways on defense was huge. We had another big rushing performance - rushed for over 200 yards. Trey (Watts) was at better 5½ yards per carry, and that was done without Stetson Burnett, arguably our most efficient offensive lineman."

"Shawn Jackson was involved in three (takeaways) and had 14 tackles. Obviously, a huge game for him. We were productive with our front guys. We had three sacks with (Derrick) Alexander, (Chris) Hummingbird and Jerry (Uwaezuoke). And then (Derrick) Luetjen had eight tackles. That front four was very active."

"Carl Salazar just continues to quietly and efficiently do his job. To be sitting here at 14-of-17 and 100 percent on field goals inside the 30 - those were some issues we needed to get better at."

"Certainly, concerns continue to be third-down efficiency - both offense and defense. We just could not get the success we needed, and that led to the discrepancy of 103 plays for Marshall and 83 for Tulsa. That's not going to be good, any way you slice it."

"Moving on to Louisiana Tech. They're a team very similar to us in terms of where they are. Coming off of a very successful season a year ago. Struggled to find the same level of success, but they've been good at times. They're No. 1 in the league in kickoff coverage and No. 3 in punt. Offensively, they have very impressive personnel. Kenneth Dixon at running back is as good as anybody in our conference. I know there are questions about his availability this week, but that guy is special."



Did Rice provide a blueprint by running so effectively against LA Tech? "There's certainly some things (Rice) did well. Frankly, it's hard to explain. That didn't look like the other game films we had for Louisiana Tech. I don't know if the travel made a difference. (The Bulldogs) are a little beat up. But certainly, Rice took it to them pretty good. Just ran the ball and said, `We're going to keep running it.' It's obvious from the comments coming out of the Louisiana Tech camp that it was somewhat of a surprise. Certainly, those are things that give us hope in the running game, but (the Bulldogs) physically didn't look like the same guys that you see the week or two before. I don't know if Rice got them on a down day, or if that can be done on a regular basis. Certainly, we hope that it can."

Louisiana Tech still has motivation to reach the six-win mark and achieve bowl eligibility:
"They're still two games away. They could win and get themselves bowl eligible."

What is Stetson Burnett's status?
"We'll find out today. He's been cleared to return to practice today. It would be good to get him back. We're going to need him. He's our best offensive lineman, all the way around. He's the most experienced guy we have. It would be huge to get him back."

On TU's frustration level:
"I think (the players) are very frustrated. There are different descriptions of frustration. I'm frustrated, so I know they have to be. The thing I continue to see is guys that are willing to stand in and fight. There were opportunities (after trailing 21-0 to Marshall) for them to fold the tent and say, `We're done.' . . . There comments from young players after game like, `We're not going to give in.' I thought that was very telling. We've been very diligent about looking at character when we recruit. We think that's important. I think there's a contagious aspect to competing and not giving in. I think cowardice is contagious. I also think being courageous is contagious."

When you invest a lot of hours in a game plan, how does it make you feel to see a small crowd for Marshall game. Deflating?
"I get discouraged for our players. The folks that were here were very loud and very vocal, and they were very encouraging to our group. That was something we were very thankful for. I don't know what we can do. We've just got to do what we can control. We've got to be a better team (and) win more games, but I also that that doesn't necessarily put them in the stands."

How important is it to finish strong for the future?
"I think it's incredibly important. If we could get a win this week and play for another win the next week, those are opportunities that you have to just use as a little bit of a bump going into the next offseason. The biggest motivation I have is the commitment level of the seniors. I just want them to go out on top. I was reflecting on the seniors last year, and what it meant for them to win the Liberty Bowl in that last game. While this is not a championship run in these next two weeks, I think it is vital that we help (this year's seniors) go out on a winning note."

TU still ranks No. 2 nationally in fewest penalties and fewest penalty yards:
"I'm a little amazed, yeah. You would think that the things we're dealing with would lead to more mistakes. We have been playing fairly clean in terms of the mental mistakes. I think we can still be more aggressive and play closer to the edge."