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UNIVERSITY OF TULSA FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 24, 2017
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Thanks for coming. Appreciate all of you being here. You know, just to kind of open it up, I'm excited about the year. We've got a lot of new faces that are stepping in. We've had a good fall camp. We've had great competition in our camp. As we continue to kind of press forward, you know, I say this every year, this is the only sport in America we get no scrimmages and we tee it up for real and we get after it.
So we've got a little bit of an operational walk-through type scrimmage today, and then we just keep preparing for Oklahoma State.
As you look forward to them, obviously Coach Gundy has done a marvelous job there. He's been the head coach there I think now for 12 years and been an assistant there even longer. But you know, I think, shoot, what is it, five out of the last seven years, something like that, they have had ten-win seasons and had the opportunity to go against them in a couple of different occasions.
The one thing that I will say about their football team this year is I think it's probably the most talented one I've ever faced with him as the head coach there. They have got a ton of weapons offensively. They have got a ton of experience offensively. You look at them defensively, you know, both ends are back. Most of their line backing core is virtually back. They have made some changes in the secondary, Flowers, moving him over to what we call the down safety here, a tremendous move for them.
So we know we have our hands full, and any time you go to still water, great environment. I know the paddles will be beating against the side and there's not much room on the sideline and you deal with all of those things.
But what an exciting match up to kick off the college football season. Our guys are excited to play. I know we'll be ready to play.
Q. Q.So seven days until kickoff at this point. Is there anything that you're still looking to see or find out, or is it too late for that as far as just big picture?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: I mean, the big picture stuff, you feel like you're there. Obviously there's a lot of little things, and the little things are the things that make the difference in football games. You know, for us we want to play consistently. We still want to be aggressive in what we do all three phases.
You know, there's always, that first game of the year, there's always a lot of question marks as you're going into it just how you you're going to play underneath the lights in game time situations; when your back is up against the wall, how are you going to respond.
You know, all of those little scenarios, until you really get into the season with your football team, you just don't know. You have hopefully a good idea but how they respond to stuff, will be determined as we go throughout the year.
Q. Q.This game was obviously scheduled a ways back, but you have another series upcoming with OSU. What are your thoughts on the series, playing the power five, every year there's at least one. How do you feel about that?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Yeah, you know, we have a very difficult schedule this year, and our schedule continues to get harder and harder as the years come. As far as the series with Oklahoma State, you know, you look back at the history of this series, and it's been a great series, and we want to continue that. And so I've talked a lot about, you know, trying to gain respect in our conference and trying to gain respect in our state, and this gives us an opportunity to play, you know, Oklahoma State, and they are, like I said, a very, very talented team this year. But our guys, they are going to be ready. They are going to be excited about stepping on the field. It should be a very competitive game.
Q. Q.Would you feel better going into a situation like this with an experienced starting quarterback, regardless of who that is?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: I mean, I think every year. Any time you go into a year, you'd love to have your starting quarterback back that's got wins underneath his belt and has been through the fire and the flames of it all. I think any coach in America would probably want that.
Q. Q.Would it be better -- is this a better match up to give that quarterback a similar situation?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Yeah, as you look at it, when you're playing games like this, you would love for your quarterback to have already had some game-type experiences and been through the war, if you will, and been able to go back in after a game and be really able to coach off of that and kind of create some of that stuff.
You know, those first two to three games of the year, there's still a ton, a ton of teaching going on. So I would love for this game to have been Game 3. You know, get two games underneath your belt and get a better chance and get a better feel for what your team is that year before you come across this type of opponent.
But you know, the schedule is what it is. We are going to play it the way it is.
Q. Q.So you're a week out, game planning has already begun. Told Kelly yesterday, it's not just a strategic thing. You actually have not decided on a quarterback yet. Can fans assume that there's a good chance you'll play two because of that, or is that reading too much into it?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Yeah, I mean, you can read whatever you want into it. You know, we haven't made a decision on it yet. Both of those guys I think are both talented players that can bring something similar to the table. They also have some differences between them.
So we feel good about it. We've got a lot of things that are going on on the football field beside just that position. Understanding that that's the guy that's going to touch the ball every time and going to have to make decisions and be able to execute at a high level. But we have confidence in both of these young men and we'll see how it all plays out when we get to game time.
Q. Q.Is it just you and your staff having to get together and make that decision based on the body of work that they have shown you, or can somebody still with only seven days left, actually go out and win that job?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Yeah, I think -- you know, the decision's going to come down to my staff and I, and then, you know, as far as those guys continue to compete and be able to show maturity and consistency, those things are still going to be evaluated as we still go through our practices right now.
Q. Q.Do you mind if we get all the quarterback ones out of the way?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Get after it. I didn't think I would get one question besides that.
Q. Q.So if a defense is committed to making your quarterbacks win through the air, on a scale of zero to Dane Evans, where are you with these guys in terms of confidence?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: First of all, I won't compare them to Dane. Dane is his own animal. For our guys, we have faith in our passing game. We have got young receivers and we've got guys that have been through some wars when you talk about Keenan and Hobbs and Nigel and a few others.
So we have faith in what we can do throwing the football. I've said since day one here, I want to be a balanced football team from an offensive standpoint. We'll continue to have that same type of philosophy. Obviously we have to play our quarterback strengths and we have to play what our strength is as a football team right now. So whatever they decide to do, we are going to take what they give us and then we've got to execute at a good level.
Q. Q.I know you're preaching, get the ball in the hands of guys around you and let them help you with regard to that position, don't make mistakes that hurt us, seems that was an issue with last scrimmages, is that a thing that cannot happen?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Yeah, as I go back and look at the last scrimmage, a couple of those things are bad decisions and a couple of those things are good plays by the defense. So you know, for us, those are good things to happen in a scrimmage, so we have a chance to learn from them. The flipside of that, we've got to concentrate on what we're doing and making the positive moves that we have to make as a football team in all three phases.
Q. Q.Jumping to the running backs, but we can jump back to the quarterbacks if we need to. Do you have any news on Ramadi and whether he'll be able to go?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Yeah, don't have that yet.
Q. Q.And Shamari, have you decided if, when, how you're going to use him?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Shamari has had a really good fall camp and has really stood out. As a young guy, I think he has the opportunity of maybe seeing some playing time. We'll kind of make more decisions on that, kind of as we go through it. But I will tell you right now, I wouldn't hesitate to put Shamari in, because he's ready mentally and physically right now.
Q. You told me earlier in the preseason that this is a competition that could go into the regular season.
Is that still the case, it could go into game one, game two?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: It really could. Until you really nail this thing down and one of the guys takes the reins, some of that could be determined now. Some of it, you know, whoever we throw out there as a starter, if he is blowing and going and moving the ball well, then, you know, we're going to stay with the hot hand.
The good thing about it, good and bad is I really do feel that we have two guys that can go out there and compete at a high level, and it's about making good decisions and continually, you know, moving the chains and doing what we need to do.
Q. Q.On a different topic, you guys are playing Thursday night here. Just your thoughts on playing on a Thursday night, and then as a general theory, you've got several other games coming up, but that's on a Friday or a Thursday?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Yeah, we really do. You know, the Thursday night game, the thing I do like about it is it's a chance for us to highlight this game. You know, two teams coming off good seasons, obviously they got a lot of guys coming out. We're going to be new in some areas. But to be able to play on this type of national stage, I think is always good for both universities and both programs.
You know, as far as the way our schedule goes, we've got to play what we get from a TV standpoint, and obviously we want to play on national television. We get opportunities to do that quite a bit throughout the year. Sometimes those do fall on Friday night games. I would love to leave Friday night for high school football; me being a high school football coach and my background. Those guys are special.
But you have to understand where we are and what the landscape of college football is right now. You know, whenever they schedule them, we're going to play them. Some of those create some short weeks and that's tough from a turnaround standpoint, especially when you're travelling and if you've got back-to-back travel in there, that makes it tough.
But you know, for us, we're going to play whatever they give us; and give us an opportunity to be on the national stage, we're going to take it.
Q. Q.You've gotten a good bit faster defensively overall since you've been here. How do you see your group matching up with this OSU offense and what would be key to having some success on Thursday?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Keep them in front of you. I mean, I don't know how you keep Washington in front of you. He's a guy that can blow the top off it at any time. You've got to mix up coverage and give them some different looks and try to keep them off balance in that sense. Try to get them in predictable-type down and distance situations where you can kind of lock in and hone in a little bit more.
But I do feel like we've got more length and more speed right now in our secondary than we've had since I've been here. I'm excited about that. Now we have to take what we have been doing on the practice field, and now you have to do it underneath the lights when it really matters.
Q. Q.From what I've seen with my own eyes throughout camp and just listening to you say a couple times that the defense is one, practices are one, scrimmages, whatnot, they seem to have had a really good fall camp as a unit. Where is your, I guess, confidence level, and just with that unit as a whole going into the season?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: I've got a ton of confidence in them. It's great to have our whole defensive staff back. I think having some continuity within your staff, and those guys understanding what we're doing schematically, the relationships that they have with their players, and then kind of knowing what to expect as you get into fall camp and as we've gotten into it, you know, I think the moves that we've made personnel-wise has been very beneficial to our defense.
And so I'm excited about all of those. I'm ready to see them go against somebody else besides us and kind of see where we're at and where we match up. We've still got some things that we've got to shore up in there. But just like last year, I told you, our defense was playing really well. They came out and performed that way throughout the season. I think our defense has continued to take steps, and I'm excited to see what direction they go now.
Q. Q.Defense was so key, I think you had said you improved in all but two of your defensive statistics or something like that. You need that to happen again to take the next level with the defense improving. Do you think that they are there now, what you've seen in the preseason camp?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: From what we've seen, yeah, I think we have an opportunity to do that. But we've still got to go out and do it. Us talking about it is not going to get it done. I feel confident in what we're doing. I think our guys, we've got to stay healthy, especially in key spots, because our depth right now is not great. And so we've got to stay healthy. We've got to stay hungry and we've got to continue to grow each and every week.
Q. Q.You're a quarterback guy. What do you see when you look at mason rude off on film?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: He's an NFL guy. Honestly, I don't know why he didn't come out last year, with the quarterback draft class like it was. And I'm not saying that just because we're playing them. But he's got an NFL arm, he's got an NFL body. Obviously he's been operating at a high level. He's got a bunch of starts underneath his belt. I think he could have.
Now him coming back, good for him. Finish up your education and then, you know, stay healthy and you'll have another opportunity this year. But I think he's a guy that has a chance to make a move to the next level and hopefully have a great career.
The crazy thing about the NFL is you just never know. I mean, you've got guys that come out that are -- that you think are no-doubt NFL guys that don't make it, and then you've got guys that scratch and claw and then all of a sudden, they come from nowhere and they are an NFL guy for ten years.
Q. Q.You saw the 2011 OSU team when you were at Baylor and you called this one Gundy's most talented. What's the separation factor between this LSU version and that one?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Yeah, you're going to make me reach back. I've slept a couple of times since the 2011 -- but the big deal to me is all the weapons they have got offensively. They have got some guys that can really do it. They have got, you know, three of their five offensive linemen are back and the other two guys that are starting, they both -- I think one started five games, and the other started like 12 games over the course of his career, or maybe more. So they have got experience up front. You know, as I look at them defensively, both ends are back, returning starters.
You can say they lost their interior defensive tackles but they really rotated a lot of guys in there last year and these guys have experience that are stepping up to be name starters now.
So I just think from a speed element, they have got a lot of speed on both sides of the football, a lot of experience. Their staff has been able to stay together for an extended amount of time here and so I think all of those factors leading into it give them a chance to really have an explosive-type year.
Q. Q.Last year they had the emergence of the running game with Justice Hill. What stands out about him, if you watch him on film? He's from the area, a lot like Shamari, similar body type. Do you see any resemblance between the two when you watch them?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Yeah, you know, I think both of them are powerful runners. I mean, guys that got a lot of shape to them, guys that can be explosive. You give them a crease, they have a chance to hit it and make it a big play.
You know, I think they have done a really nice job with what they are doing schematically in the run game and giving him effective lanes and alleys to make things happen. And he's one of those complete overall backs. You can throw it to him out of the backfield. You can get him involved in the pass protection side of it, but any time you hand it to him, he's got a chance, for lack of a better phrase, be a one-hitter quitter; a guy that can get down the field and make you pay in a hurry.
Q. Q.You mention a lot that you're fighting for respect in the state, in the conference. Obviously this game could go a long way to helping that cause. How much is that something you bring up to the team, fighting for respect and trying to gain that respect?
PHILIP MONTGOMERY: You know, honestly right now, we are focused on Oklahoma State because they are our first game. You know, at this stage, we have been more focused on us, and so schematically, what we're plugging in and doing, and trying to make sure that we got some things lined out right; obviously any time you start off a year, everybody is going to have a new little twist here and there. So you're going to have to play through that part of it and figure it out and make those adjustments on the sidelines that you've got to make.
The thing that makes you nervous about first games is you're pumped, you're ready to roll. You go out there and the first series, after the first series, you're dog-tired because you've spent all this energy and you've been so wound up and now you've got to find a way to catch that second wind, if you will.
So you know, it's a great opportunity. We're excited about the opportunity, and I know our guys, I don't know that I have to preach that to them. I think they are aware of it.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports