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August 28, 2014

Bill Blankenship

TULSA - 38

COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Thank you.  What a game, huh?  I guess, the conference is hopefully like having Tulsa and Tulane in.  A lot of fun.  This was obviously a great win to come from behind and fight through a lot of adversity that we had early in the game.  I think what we did this fall in camp really paid off.  I thought we were conditioned well at the end.
In the end the guys were light on their stuff.  They just started playing football.  Kind of got out of our jumpiness early and started playing some ball.  What do you guys have?

Q.  Quite a night.
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Dane played better than that, but it's certainly good to get him going.  I think it says a lot for his resiliency and what he's about that he would fight back from what he did a year ago and just work his tail off.  I think you saw that we have a good group of receivers that we can throw the ball around and mix it up with and certainly it was good to see No. 1 in the game early.  You know I'm talking about Keyarris and then Marco at the end.
I think it was very fitting that we started with a big play with Keyarris and ended with a big play with Marco.  Those guys certainly mean a lot to us.

Q.  In the beginning of the game you were saying there really wasn't enough.  You were quick to say that.  But now that you got the win, how big is it for psyche and everything else?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  The big thing, just like I told the guys downstairs, it's important for us to learn all the things we talk about.  That good teams have to overcome adversity.  When things happen, get a touchdown called back early in the game, we get some kind of crazy things happen, we wound up letting them bust a couple of long runs when we've got them pinned down.  Things that are very against our nature defensively, but I felt like we just kept fighting and just didn't get to the point where we gave in to the frustration.

Q.  How special was Lucas in this game?  Was it because Garrett was in there?  Was it because Dane was in there?  Does that make Lucas a better play?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:¬† I think it all fits.¬† I think the fact that Keyarris‑‑ this is a team that loves to play man coverage and they love to put pressure.¬† Most of the second half they played zone against us and really tried to kind of change up their game plan a little bit, and I think that was because they needed to make sure they were getting some help over on Keyarris a little bit.¬† But I think it's just big that you have Josh Atkinson was big in the game, Conner Floyd with some big catches.¬† So we just, you know, that's what we've been seeing in practice.¬† We think we're moving in the right direction, and I think, really, I just know we can play better than that.

Q.  (No microphone) is that what you wanted to do, what you had to do or did the running game materialize?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  I think everybody told us we ran it too much last year, so I just wanted to throw it for a while.  No, seriously, let me answer this first.  The big thing we came into the thing, and this is one of the things that's a mark of Denver Johnson's leadership.  As an offensive line coach you think he wants to run the football.  What he wants to run is run the football against numbers.  This is a team that puts their safety down close, they put people in the box, they load up on us, and if you can't throw them out of it, they're going to stay in there and it's going to make it hard to run.  You can run, but it's going to make it hard to run.
So we had to choose the way we did that.¬† And that's part of‑‑ it wasn't that we wanted to throw it 53 times.¬† But if that's what you're going to play against us, we think we've got to be good enough throwing and running that we can choose the game plan.

Q.  That first drive, was there a little bit of an exhale?  See a couple passes snap out of it?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Oh, no question.  I mean, I've said multiple times over the last few weeks, I know what I'm seeing in practice, and I think we're on the right track.  But doing it in game situation and there were a couple of times that Dane had some jitters.  He threw a couple balls into the crowd.  A couple of things that he'd love to get back.  But for the most part, he made great decisions.

Q.  What was his frame of mind after the first half?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:¬† Yeah, I thought he had real clarity of vision.¬† You know, I found it interesting that the personal foul was for‑‑ they said he low blocked after the interception.¬† So I don't know.¬† I can't comment on that.¬† I thought that was kind of interesting, we were on defense.

Q.  What about the touchdown that got called back?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  They said that we had offensive interference and we ran into one of their guys.

Q.  Did they tell you a number what it was?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  I think they said it was 88.

Q.  The celebration was pretty epic.
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  It's why we do this.  Honestly, it's like crack.  You get those kind of celebrations and you'll coach for a long time.  That is the kind of stuff that's a lot of fun.  And again, you should see the players.  I'm old.  I get to enjoy this stuff.  I've done it.  But these guys, you know, it means a lot to them.  They've put in a lot of work.

Q.  With that said, how much of a carryover do you want to see or could there be starting the season with an emotional beginning like that?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  I think the big thing is we know how to read.  You know, we know how people projected us.  We know what they think about our next opponent.  You know, that is the great thing about the University of Tulsa.  We actually do a good job of being able to listen and read and we kind of know what's coming.
All I've asked them to do in the locker room is I just want to find a group of guys that want to come out and put the ball down and play.  Let's just see what happens.

Q.  Do you expect that you're talking about them loading the blocks defensively, do you expect teams to do that routinely?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:¬† Yeah, I think this will make a little difference.¬† You know, they'll still be‑‑ look, if there's anything we've learned over the years is nobody's going to just all of a sudden crown us.¬† Dane's going to have to prove it again and again and again and again, that's part of being a quarterback.¬† But if we can throw it, we'll get people out of box, and if we throw it consistently, it will make running the ball a little easier.¬† Denver says it all the time.¬† If you can't throw it, you won't run it very long.¬† If you can't run it, you won't throw it very long, so that's why we really strive for balance.

Q.¬† The playbook, the off‑season spent coming down to the playbook.¬† It looked like it on the first three drives that you guys were running variations of the same three or four plays.¬† Is that what you like?¬† Do you feel like early on, obviously you had a lot of success.¬† Do you like what you saw?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Yeah, I thought we produced pretty well.

Q.  Keevan showed flashes last year, but to do it over and over and over again, where is the nature of that?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  I think that's the kind of player he is.  I think we have to find ways to keep him in the game and to give him opportunities to run after a catch or after a reverse.  We just have to give him the ball because he is such a weapon once he gets it in his hands.

Q.  Last year he was a lot stronger.
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Yeah, I mean, he was a freshman last year.  That is the thing that gets lost on people.  We just really are starting to see our guys grow up and mature a little bit.  I think Keevan has benefited from a year in the weight room and from our training.  He already had that skill set, but I do think he's a little bigger, little faster and little stronger.

Q.  Not to jump too far ahead, but do you let them celebrate this a couple of days, do you get together and watch OU on Saturday?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Oklahoma doesn't play till Saturday.  We'll come in tomorrow and put tonight's game to bed.  We'll grade that and watch that and come in and work and get treatment, then I'm pretty sure we'll give the players the day off on Saturday.  They'll probably want to watch the game, and we'll come to work on Sunday.

Q.¬† The off‑season that Dane spent working and improving and beating himself up after the performance at Tulane last year and improving his game, can you kind of maybe go in depth a little about some of the things you saw?¬† Whether it was extra time or a look on his face?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  No one outworked him from January on, no one on our team, and we've great work ethic on this team.  So I'm not putting anybody down.  I'm just telling you nobody outworked him.  Nobody took last year any harder than he did.  And, again, we talked about it today before the game.  You don't want to focus on last year.  What you want to do is make it right.  If that wasn't us last year, then we've got to show you.  We can't blame anybody.
I think Dane Evans started in January or as soon as the season was over, and he said, I'm better than that.  But I've got to work, and I'm telling you, I think he'll continue.  I don't think he's ready to go in the Hall of Fame yet.  I think we've still got work to do.

Q.  Coach, that celebration with the players with the band and you kind of were just taking it all in, what was going through your mind there?  Maybe a little misty?  Just a little?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Yeah, frankly, I was missing my dad.  He's usually down there greeting me.  Kind of tough.

Q.  The defense gave up some plays that I know were big ones and they drive Coach Guy crazy, but to end it with the interception with them on the field?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:¬† There is nobody more than of a perfectionist than Coach Guy is on defense, and we had a lot of mixed tackles.¬† Give them credit, because I think the running back is really good.¬† That is a guy they've upgraded with.¬† The area that he's going to just‑‑ if he had a lot of hair, he'd be pulling it out, but he doesn't, so we'll just get after our defense.¬† We're better than that on defense.¬† We'll make that right too.

Q.  (No microphone)?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Really?  That's a lot of fun to think about.

Q.  That's pretty impressive considering your history, isn't it?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Yeah, no kidding.  That's huge.  So he beat all of mine?  Yeah, that is stunning.

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