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TULSA PLAYERS AND COACHES TALK ABOUT THE AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL GAME

Tulsa practices for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Tulsa practices for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
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Dec. 29, 2012

Memphis, Tenn. - Tulsa players and coaches discussed the 54th Annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl as the Golden Hurricane continued preparations for Monday's game against the Iowa State Cyclones.

Head Coach Bill Blankenship:

On the season opening loss to Iowa State: "For us, I feel like we've figured out a bit more who we are (since the opener) and kind of wish we had known who we are now back then. With that said, they made the plays they had to win the game. They took it to us in that second half. We were one score down with a lot of negative turnovers, but you've got to take care of the bowl."

 

 

On Tulsa QB Cody Green, who started this season after sitting out a season following a transfer from Nebraska: "There's no question that he's a lot different now than the beginning of the year. He had good knowledge in his head, but it took awhile for his body to catch up. He just hadn't played in awhile. What he's done the last 13 games this season rather than the first is more significant to who he is now."

On RB Alex Singleton's 21 TDs rushing as a designated short yardage back: "He has been very productive for us. He had been a good short yardage back last season, but now he's a real force. We make sure we get him the ball in between the 20s. He's a great change of pace for us with our two fast guys. His conditioning is better this year. He's in a better place mentally in terms of what his role is. He's embraced it better than before."

Offensive coordinator Greg Peterson:

On playing in the Liberty Bowl: "This is one of the greatest bowls in the history of college football, and the people of Memphis have treated us very well. We appreciate the hospitality."

On the season opening loss to Iowa State: "Watch Iowa State defensively until now, and there's not a lot of changes. There's a few wrinkles in the schemes. At Tulsa, we started with a brand new quarterback and had some other guys who hadn't played for us, so we're a different team as well."

On QB Cody Green: "One thing that Cody Green has done for us all year is win. There was a part of the year when we didn't throw the ball as much, because he was a bit banged up. In that first game, he went 1 ½ quarters when his completion percentage was very good. I'm pleased with his evolvement. As he has understood more of our system, we've become more complex and giving him more freedom to change plays to put us in position to make more plays."

Defensive coordinator Brent Guy:

On Iowa State's offense: "They play three quarterbacks. Their offense hasn't changed a whole lot. We've changed a little bit. They are doing a few things differently, like one play they are running with the quarterback that's different than the first time we played them. Other than that, it's pretty much the same offense. We watched their last six games and that's what we worked off. That's our procedure. Then we watched the first game of the season (when Tulsa lost at Iowa State) just for reference."

On whether Tulsa's defense is peaking: "I felt like we'd played better in the first game against Central Florida than we did against them in the (Conference USA) championship game. We had a few issues. None of played well at SMU.

"Emotionally, we're peaking at the right time. I'm glad we had time to practice and clean some things up. Like being gap sound and technique sound."

On Tulsa's reputation changing from offensive to defensive program: "One of the things I challenged this group of seniors was to play defense. You win championships at defense. I was told that as a player at Oklahoma State under Jimmy Johnson. There are critical plays in a game when a defense had rise up and make plays."

"When we came to Tulsa, there was a sort of a break/serve. If we break serve a couple of times, we were going to 48-42 or 56-54. We got out of that mentality when started talking about three and outs, and getting turnovers. Now we believe we can win games on defense and we can control a game with defense. We don't have to wait for the offense to spark us. We can be the spark. My eight senior starters bought in and sell that downstream."

QB Cody Green:

On being 6-4, 250 as a QB: "It helps out a lot. The offensive line loves it. We've had just six sacks all year. It helps to be 6-4, 250 and stand back there like Big Ben. I was just 200 pounds when I got to Nebraska as a freshman."

On 260-pound running back Alex Singleton scoring 21 TDs, mostly in short yardage situations: "We'll have six or seven offensive linemen in there, and they know the big guy is behind them. You get him a little crease and he'll blow it open. It helps to have someone 260 pounds that can run like he does. He's nimble and he's quick on his feet. Teams really don't want to hit him, especially when you get in that second level of defense with the linebackers and safeties. They don't want to go down and hit 260 pounds running at full speed."

RB Alex Singleton:

On his short-yardage role: "I look to score every play, try to break one. It's difficult with nine and 10 defenders in the box, but it's a challenge. I like the challenge. When there's not as many defenders in the box, our offensive linemen get more excited than I do sometimes."

On his long run against Marshall: "It was 4th and one, and I tried to go low. But my fullback made a good block and it just opened up. My head went up. I was shocked no one was there."

On not initially liking his role: "I was so stuck in high school of being the man. I got here and I finally started thinking I could turn the short yardage into long yardage. Just take every opportunity and maximizing it."

On his game-winning TD in overtime to beat UCF in Conference USA championship game: "It's just big on big and you gotta stop it. The only thing I thought before that touchdown was `I'm getting this touchdown and we're winning this.' That touchdown meant more than any other I've scored, because it meant I won a championship for the first time in my career."

LB DeAundre Brown:

On Iowa State now compared to season opener: "There's not much difference. They look the same. Same plays. Same scheme. We prepare for all their quarterbacks."

On Iowa State QB Sam Richardson: "He's good at reading his keys and defensive fronts."

On Tulsa's defensive improvement: "The more we've played and fought together, the better we've gotten. We had a lot of close games that helped us become a better team. We've learned how to communicate better with each other and to trust everyone to do their jobs."

On playing Iowa State again: "We played UCF again this year and it's hard to beat a team a second time. But it's hard to win twice. I think it will very competitive. That first game feels like forever ago. We were just off point, we weren't together, but it was our first game. In first games, you've got some guys just learning to get their feet wet before finally jumping in the pool."

DB Dexter McCoil:

On Tulsa's defense: "You can have a high-powered offense, but defense is the key to winning games. If you can't stop anybody from scoring, you can't be successful. Coach Guy and his coaches turned us around."

On Iowa State switching to freshman redshirt Sam Richardson as QB: "They have a good team, but we just worry about us, learning our keys and executing our assignments. Our focus is on us playing fast."

On the rematch: "It didn't matter who the opponent was going to be. I was just blessed with the opportunity to play in the Liberty Bowl."

On the season opening loss to Iowa State: "Everybody goes in anxious into the first game. We learned from the mistakes of our first game. We learned. Iowa State's a new team and so are we."

DE Cory Dorris:

On becoming a better pass rusher: "Our past mentality was to stop the run. I've finally learned how to pass rush. It's only taken five years, but it's been a good year overall for all of us. The defensive recognition keeps us high."

On playing on aggressive defense that forces the action: "I love playing defense, because I can run around the field. I played offense all my life until I got to college. It was big change for me. You snap the ball and even if you are wrong, you can run hard as you can and make a play. The great thing about defense is you can create tempo. You can snap the ball as fast as you want, but if we create a TFL, that next snaps going to be a little slower."

On Iowa State's quarterbacks: "All three are very talented and very athletic. They all run and throw. No matter who's on the field, it doesn't change my mindset. I've got to beat the left tackle first, and then I have to worry about the quarterback."