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September 22, 2012

Bill Blankenship

Tulsa – 27
Fresno State – 26

COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Wow, you know, the best thing I can tell you is just so proud of our guys for not giving in.  Absolute fabulous defensive effort.  We made it so hard for them with how we played offensively in the first half especially.
But then you come back, and really proud of the freshman kicker knocking everything through that has been a little bit of a question mark.  Then just offensive line got some yardage when we needed to grind it out there at the end.
I don't know.  You ask me.

Q.  From an emotional standpoint, it was a hard‑fought game a close game throughout.  You got behind early by 13.  After the game, a big sigh of relief on your part.
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  It was just crazy how hard it was.  But I think you can grow from that.  You know, it was a very hard win.  We struggled to do anything really well consistently on offense.  It's a great credit to their defense.  Just what they thought they would do.  They brought the pressure.  We had a hard time handling.  They're big and physical up front.  We had a hard time moving them around.
We didn't get to play 22, Trey, very much.  He got an ankle early.  Kind of limited some of the packages we had.
It was hard.  But all the while the defense did a great job, they got down and then just kind of really bowed up.  Had we not thrown the other interception, pick six, they were playing extremely well.

Q.  How big was it to get Shawn back tonight?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Shawn was especially big.  We wound up losing Trent partway through the game.  We had to move DeAundre back into the middle.  I know he missed a couple of tackles, some things that probably happen when you haven't been playing for three weeks.
But it was a huge deal for our defense because of the emotional lift he brings.

Q.  There were three catches that stand out in my mind, the long touchdown on the fourth down, Roberson stretching out, then James making the catch to get the first down.  How pleasurable is it to see those kind of plays?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  I kept telling Cody, especially after the first quarter, just felt like we were this far from really clicking.  We were just a hair away from making more throws and more catches that would have made things a little easier.  But again, they had defenders there.  They knocked them out and did some things to us, as well.
I think we got a one‑point win against a very good football team.

Q.  Was it the third touchdown where the ball was tipped, the guy just jogged in?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  You have those days.  And it felt like it was turning into one of those.  We were struggling to get anything going on offense.  Defensively they get Lowell, I believe it was Lowell, was in great position.  The ball just gets tipped up and he gets an easy one.  It feels like, Man, that thing is getting away from us pretty quick.
I was so proud of the way everybody, players on offense and defense, responded.  The defense had a reason to get in a funk.  They kept fighting and clawing back.  I think it says a lot about the bunch we have here.  I think this is going to go a long way to help us, I really do.

Q.  Is this the kind of game you were talking about, trying to take the next step, get over the hump, losing to BYU last year, those tough games last year?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  I think a lot more so than we would have pointed to when the season started.  Especially if you're down there close, you understand that was a very good, physical football team with a lot of talent on offense.  We were able to hold up.

Q.  You admitted you felt like there was a point at which it could have gotten away from you.
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  There's no question.  That first quarter was really ugly from an offensive standpoint.  I was flashing back to some of the TV guys, the CBS guys, that were asking, Do you expect this to be one of those 60‑55 deals?  I thought, No, I didn't think it would.  Then all of a sudden it felt like maybe it would get that.
Then the defenses really settled down even more so.  We started getting a little more pressure on Carr.  There were times, again, when we were a hair away, but we forced him into throwing a little earlier than he wanted to.  Some of that was the difference.

Q.  Six years with this program.  Is this as good or perhaps the best defensive performance you can remember from an opponent?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  I haven't even looked at the stats.  I tell you, I felt like our defense, it allowed us to be a little more, gosh, I hate to say conservative, but we were not going to try to lose it on offense.  I mean, we're playing well enough on defense that we kept thinking we could get something, we break it loose, get Ja'Terian in the open.  Then we got in the mode in the fourth quarter, let's try to go two tight, try to hammer it in there, see if we can run the clock.

Q.  (Question about the defense.)
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  It didn't feel that way because they're getting points based off of what the offense was doing.  So kept reminding ourselves, one of the things the guys in the box kept telling me, Coach, we're playing good defense.  There's a part of it from me, that fourth and a foot, you know you can make it.  But it doesn't make sense to go after it when you're playing good defense.

Q.  The Watts touchdown pass, was that something you went with because of what they were doing or you thought an element of surprise would work at that point?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Well, they're a very well‑coached team.  That was the play that we had run down on the goal line before the first game that J.T. scored on.  It's a play that J.T. broke against the big run against Nichols (phonetic).  It's a little unbalanced look.  We gave them the same look, but threw off of it.
I felt like they would be well‑coached enough to really react to the quick pitch.  Fortunately we slipped past them.
How about that moon ball?  I didn't know if it was ever coming down.  Didn't know if we were going to get to it.  I knew he was open if we could just get to it.

Q.  Did you audition guys to make that pass or was it always Trey's ball?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  That was another one of the tough things, is we had a lot of things like that that Trey was going to be like that.  A little bit more of the wildcat package.  Once he got slowed down, it kind of took a bunch of that away from us.
Yeah, but Trey is the best guy that does that for us.  He did it a lot for us last year.

Q.  Noisy locker room.
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  Locker rooms like that are memorable.  That's why you coach.

Q.  How helpful was Cole Way helping out the defense?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  I told Coach Guy, I don't know how you could be any prouder of a special teams unit.  They did a great job of kicking, kick coverage, knocked them down inside the 20 once or twice, get a punt to roll down to the 1.  Then you have a freshman kicker that bangs through every kick he had to have.  He's one of the guys we gave a game ball to, because I think that helps him get over that freshman hump.

Q.  Timeout before a punt.  Couldn't get lined up?
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  We were trying to run a fake there and it didn't work.  That's my story and I'm sticking with it (smiling).

Q.  Like flames were shooting out of your eyes.
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  That may have been the case, too.

Q.  Turned out to be a really big play.
COACH BLANKENSHIP:  It really did.
Thanks, guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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