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September 24, 2012

Tommy Tuberville

COACH TUBERVILLE:  Everybody ready?  All right, time to get going.
It was a good off‑week last week, we had good practices, the guys were in good frame of mind, it's always good to come off a win going into an open date and playing pretty well.
Last week we spent a week of going over things that we had had problems with the first three weeks, watched a lot of film from the previous three games, highlights and low lights.  Trying to make sure it was all on the same page in terms of what we need to do to get ready for this long, physical, nine‑game stretch.  We had an opportunity in the first three games to play most of our backups, close to half in each game, which was very good.
We worked and built on our depth at all positions, and made a lot of changes each week in special teams, hopefully and we think we got them right in terms of where we think we can be the best we can be in all three phases.
Had a good practice yesterday.  Gave our players off Friday and Saturday but had a good long practice yesterday, film session.  We got back in the mind‑set of getting ready to go this week.  We have got our game plan in.  We'll go Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, not quite as long as we would normally go through during the week, because we have had plenty of practice time for this game.  We just need them to get the right side, get their legs back and get them ready to go.
Playing a team that's played a much tougher schedule than what we played the first three games.  They probably know more about their team going into this game.  They also had an open date.  They will be fresh and ready to go.  First conference game for both.
Offensively, pretty much what they have done the last year or so, they are very versatile.  The quarterback runs the ball quite a bit.  They throw the ball down the field.  Obviously it will be a much more farther along than the other teams we have played on offense.  It will be a challenge for us.  Defensively we have played pretty well, but this is the type of team we are going to start facing each week.  So it's time to get going to see where we are really at against a team that can run and throw the football.
Offensively, our offense has gelled at times and at times we have not looked as well.  We made some mental and physical mistakes.  We still are lacking in some areas in terms of depth on the offensive line.  We are having to move guys around.
Tony Morales is still not back, he will not play this week.  So we are still making some adjustments with depth on the offensive line.
But overall, we are in the best shape that we have been since we have been here in terms of starting conference play.  We'll go into this game and see where we're at.  We have had a tough time with this team and most teams in our conference the last two years.
So hopefully we have improved and we can take a step forward and play much better and see where we're at.

Q.  The last two seasons, because of where in the schedule it fits‑‑
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah, we know it's tough each week.  But the thing that you want to do is keep in a frame of mind and get over to your players, you don't want to go into any game and say, hey, this is a game we have got to win.  It's going to be hard for any team, just watching the teams all play‑‑ and I haven't seen very many of our conference teams play until this past week.  It will be hard for anybody to go undefeated in this league.
So we'll look at it that way in terms of hey, let's go and go play and relax and have fun and improve each week and see what happens.  You don't want to say, this is a team that we match up pretty good against and we have got to go and get it done.
Obviously we want to win the game and Iowa State wants to win the game and it will be a hard‑fought game on both sides.  So we'll just take it as one of nine, we'll go play, try to play better than we played and hopefully we'll play much better than we've played against them the last two years.

Q.  The fact that you're ranked No.1 in the nation in total defense‑‑
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Somebody said that.  Kind of ironic.  I think we'll get a much tougher test the next nine weeks than what we have had, and not that the teams that we have played couldn't move the ball a little different.
I'm proud of where we are at in terms of stopping the run.  We have not seen a lot of passing teams, teams throw it down the field much, so we'll get a lot biggest test there.
So it's good to have some success.  I think our guys are building confidence.  The reality will set in in terms of what we are getting ready to get into.
We have talked to our players about that.  It's good to look and say, hey, we have improved and we are getting better and we have.  But to that extent, being No.1, I don't know whether we are at that point or not or even close.  But we are not where we were last year at this time, either.  So we are probably somewhere in the middle.  So it will all work its way out.
I think offensively, the same way.  I think we are ranked pretty close to the top on offense, which is a lot better indication, because offense, you have to go out and execute no matter what the other team does on the other side.  And again, also you can look and say we have only played our starters pretty much a game and a half in the first three games.  So it's kind of relative, if you look at it that way, also.
Special teams is an area, though, that we have not ranked high in and we have put more time and effort into it.  It just seems like we just can't‑‑ 11 of us get on the same page every play.  Seems like there's a problem, one guy, next time there will be a problem with another guy.  So we have just got to get more consistent there.

Q.  Last year when they played here, it was sort of an upset hangover going in because you had just beaten Oklahoma, is that something you're talking to them about and this is important because‑‑
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah, last year, we had won a conference game and then we had lost two very close home conference games.  We go on the road and we played a team that nobody gives us a chance to beat, and it was an obvious elation with the players.  And whenever you reach that point in a game and you've done something that nobody expects, it's obvious that you're going to be patted on the back and talked about, and hard to come down.
We knew we wouldn't get the same effort the next week, but we at least played at home but we didn't even come close to playing, even to the point of playing to where we had a chance‑‑ I thought we were much better and we didn't come close to playing how we could have played; not taking anything away from Iowa State.  They came in the other way.  We just got through beating Oklahoma.  We have to go play hard or this thing could get out of hand.  They brought it to us and took it to us in every form or fashion.  They were never in the game.  It wasn't even close.
You know, hopefully we learn from that.  We have got a lot of guys back from that same team.

Q.  With this team you're playing against, how big is a fast start?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  You know, when you go on the load, you have to take it as it comes.  We are going to be playing in an environment that we'll have very few people that will be pulling for us.  It will be a night game, which is always tougher to play when you go on the road.  They are coming off three very good wins, and they have played very well.
So, you know, it's a business trip for us.  We'll go in and we have got to game plan and our guys will be ready to play.  There won't be any excuses from anybody.  We have had a week off, we are healthy.  They are healthy.  I think the best team will win.  I don't know whether we are to that point or not, because they have scored close to 100 points on us the last two years and we haven't even come close to scoring, what, 35, 40.
So it's been a one‑sided game the last two years, and we have got a lot to make up for.  But they will have a lot to say about that.  They are a very physical team.  They play hard.  We are not going to come in and catch them flat‑footed at all.  They will be at their best and hopefully we'll be at our best.

Q.  Can you talk about specifically the things you worked on last week?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  You know, we worked on our running game.  We felt like we could have been much better running the football, so we worked hard at the running game.  We worked more on pass protection, blitzing.  Being able to keep them off the quarterback when people blitz‑‑ if we can get a little bit of time and get the ball deeper down the field, it's a huge advantage.
Defensively, we just worked on our front seven, playing technique on missed‑direction plays.  You know, using our hands, getting off blocks, making plays; the usual stuff that you need to do to get better.
You know we are a pretty good football team now, and as I've told you in the past, now the only way we can become better is to become a better technique team and playing hard.  We are not going to play any harder than what we have played, there's no way to do that.  Maybe for some of the younger guys that don't really know how to play hard yet.
But for most of the part, the first‑team guys, they know how to play hard and they know how to play; now they just need to play better technique more consistently.  We'll keep working on that, and if we keep doing that, we'll be a better team as we go through the season.  But we'll need to be with the schedule we are getting ready to jump into.

Q.  Inaudible.
COACH TUBERVILLE:  He's running almost full speed.  He's not going to be ready this week.  He'll probably be available for Oklahoma if he continuesthe progress.  He's not cutting a lot on it, but he is running straight ahead, full speed coming off a broken foot, I guess, what, about six weeks ago.  So he's getting close.

Q.  Inaudible ‑‑ would you be surprised to see him‑‑ for a change of pace?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  I'm sure they used him in certain situations.  Plan on doing that as they go.  The guy in front of them is doing very well, been consistent.  Again, been making plays and winning games, and it's hard to argue with that.
But you've got to have two‑‑ for what they do, you've got to have two‑‑ our quarterback doesn't run much.  So you know, we don't worry about that as much, but if you've got a guy that's got the ball underneath his hand a lot of times, then you'd better prepare somebody.

Q.  What's it like coaching against a former assistant in Paul Rhoads?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  It's good.  We have got a good relationship on and off the field.  We see each other several times a year.  Our wives are very close.
It's a lot of fun.  You get into the game and then you don't even realize who is on the other side of the field, so it makes no difference.  It's your team playing against another team in another colored uniform.  It's fun; it's fun to know guys in this business and I know a lot of them.  Most teams that we play, every week, I've got some kind of relationship with them, because I've been in it for a while.
But again, for those three, three and a half hours, it's not a very friendly relationship, obviously.

Q.  Did you watch K‑State and Oklahoma?

Q.  What did you think of that?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  I thought it was a good game.  Both teams were ready to play.  You know, you just look at Kansas State and how they played over the years, and I tell you, they make their own breaks and they take advantage of them.  You know, they play as well as home or on the road as at home.
But you know, I know Oklahoma came up short in that game, but they played very well at times.  And they have got an open date and we'll be playing them here in a couple weeks, and you know, we'll get their best shot.

Q.  Last year you couldn't walk around here without seeing signs about the previous score and this year it's not so much the case; is that an indication of the leadership and maturity that you see on the team?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah, I think sometimes that's overkill.  This is probably‑‑ probably wouldn't even have to put up signs this year because this is a pretty mature team in some areas.  Got very good leadership, guys that understand what they are getting into.
We had a team meeting yesterday and then the seniors had their own team meeting, which is very unusual, which was good.  So this group understands the next nine games, the importance of each game, taking one at a time and not worrying about the past, because we can't control that.
So we'll try to create a new future which we will create one way or the other.

Q.  Is that a concern, stopping a true No.1 running back?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Oh, yeah, we'll see a much different team, much different competition for us, more depth; a team with a lot of confidence.  They obviously have confidence against us because of the situation the last two years and how it's ended.
You know, we'll have to take on better blockers.  We'll have to tackle better running backs.  We'll have to cover better receivers, all the way down the line.  So this is going to be a challenge.

Q.  What's Cornelius Douglas's status?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Supposed to be going full speed, hard yesterday, probably could have practiced a day or two last week but they wanted to give him a hundred percent before he started trying.  So he's ready to go.

Q.  Same with Kennard?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Kennard's practice, he's ready to go.  We got him back and he looked good in practice yesterday.  Jeremy Reynolds will be operated on I think in two weeks.

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