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November 8, 2014

Bill Blankenship

TULSA - 38

Q.  After the Tulane game, you said it's like crack.  Do you feel that same feeling after this?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Yeah, I've been in withdrawal for a while.  It really is.  That locker room is special, I'm telling you.  There is just nothing like it.

Q.  Talk a little bit about that locker room, if you would.  Sense of relief?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Both, both.  There are a lot of players in there that know they're growing, but I think there are 10 or 11 seniors in that room where there was some relief, because it's important to them on their watch that this not end the way that this thing has been going.  And that's not wavered any of them but especially those seniors.  We had really good leadership.  In crunch times there were opportunities for you to go, oh, no, here we go again.  I heard some great things on the sideline, and I saw some resiliency that we haven't seen.

Q.  After the way the game started, Dane kind of just went off in there, ten completions in a row.  What did you see from him?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Well, we were struggling against the wind, and I thought he was a little off from his first couple of throws missed.  I thought he just flat missed a couple of throws early.  Then he got into a rhythm, and No. 9 is pretty good when he's in rhythm.  I thought he continued to show a lot of poise.  He's getting us‑‑ we're giving him a lot of freedom to get in and out.  Threw a couple of those touchdown throws were checks that he put Keyarris on specifically, because we like the match‑up, and Keyarris was playing well for us.

Q.  Coach, talk about the South Florida game where you ended up blowing that lead, but this one you tend to hold on.  What is it about the end of games for this team that you say it's an ugly win and you'll take it, but it seems to be at the end of the game sometimes?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Yeah, you have to learn how to finish.  You have to learn how to close teams out.  Winning, in my book, is not something that comes naturally to you.  You have to learn how to do the things that it takes at the end of a game.  You have to get first downs.  You've got to get turnovers.  You've got to close people out when you have opportunity.
There wasn't a lack of anybody trying, but we're still a team in process of trying to learn how to close out and finish.

Q.  Was there a moment that you're kind of most proud of with regard to the start wasn't great, but you guys took control of the game?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Yeah, offensively at the first series.  Maybe two series, but I thought we kind of sputtered around the very first series.  Like I said, Dane missed a couple, but we were very much clicking.  Dane checked a couple of throws.  Hit Bishop on the screen.  Bishop picked up a couple of nice blocks.  We were getting the defense off the field.  Things were working in a pretty good system, and it felt right.

Q.  On the Lucas touchdown, I saw Dane look at him with the hand signal, and then I heard on the radio the same thing with, I think, the next one as well.  So talk about some of those adjustments he's making and maybe how far?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  There's no question.  That's some of the stuff he's grown to.  That particular play to Keevan, you saw him motion out there, a possible run pass check and he got it into the right throw for the coverage.  Keevan did the rest.

Q.  Dane has played pretty well lately, and your offense seems to have grown to a point where maybe you deemed you had hoped it would grow to.  Did you feel like today offensively, pretty much other than the start, seems like you're pretty much in where you'd like to be?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  I think we're getting there really close.  I still think we left points on the field.  Obviously the fumble right at the end zone was one that left points on.  We didn't kick the ball very well today, so we probably were‑‑ might have not kicked a couple of field goals that we would have if things were a little more copacetic.
But the offense is playing well enough that I think they're keeping us in rhythm.  They were very confident that they can run the ball if they didn't gang up on us.  So we basically checked it off enough to try to keep them balanced.

Q.  The question is where do you go from here after a loss, where do you go from here after a win?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Well, I think the guys have an idea what they want to do with the season.  We talked about what you do in November gives you a chance for what people remember you about.  We're going to go to Central Florida.  It's a short week.  They've got a bye week.  We understand all of that.  Lot of things working against us.
But I'm going to take a very hungry football team to Central Florida.  We've matched up with them in some critical games, and I think we're looking forward to another opportunity.

Q.  What's it like that feeling to know that you have to run the football and you're able to run the football?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Well, today it's an offensive line dream.  That's their kind of game.  They want you to pound it.  The receivers want to catch it and quarterback wants to throw it.  But to get into a fourth quarter and need to be able to run the ball and have a guy like Langer be able to get the hard yards, it really gives us a lot of freedom.  I've been happy with the other backs too, but Zack's become the work horse.

Q.  They just have to win to learn how to win?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  It's a process.  I think everyone knows how to play the game.  But College Football is a highly competitive format.  You have to learn how to close people out.  It's a lot longer game when you think about high school.  When you think of high school and the four 12‑minute quarters and now you go 15, it's like playing a whole extra quarter.  And for young players there is a loss that, man, you've got to do this for a long time.  You've got to stay focused and you've got to grind and you've got to be able to not get those critical mistakes that can cost you games.

Q.  Maybe you mentioned it earlier, defensively today after that first play, I thought you guys played pretty solid throughout most of the game.  Can you just talk about that?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  That first throw they wrapped and really played pretty strong.  It was not the end of the game.  I thought that was way too easy.  We just had trouble tackling their quarterback.  Again, he's a very, very talented kid.  We had not seen him a lot on film, but it didn't surprise us.  It was certainly what Coach Guy had thought they would do is probably go to a little more run game with him.  He just out‑athleted us sometimes.

Q.  You mentioned there were several different emotions in the locker room.  What was it like for you?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  I was very thankful.  This is, again, I try not to be theological with all of this, but there are some things I do know, all good things come from God, and this is definitely a good thing.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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