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October 1, 2012

Tommy Tuberville

COACH TUBERVILLE:  Little bit about last week's game.  It is a huge win for us.  I thought that we could have played better in a lot of areas, but we did win the turnover battle.  But we did give up a touchdown with a turnover, which usually if you do something like that, you're not very successful.
But we persevered.  Our guys fought hard.  We played as a team.  That's probably as good as we've played defense.  We all know that.  We've played well.  We've played consistent, and we've played well on third downs and caused four turnovers.  That allowed us to get the ball back for our offense a little more than what they had in the past.
Offensively, a lot of mistakes.  I know Seth would like to have both of those passes back that he threw out of the pocket, and those are huge.  He'll learn from that.  We'll learn from it.
But I thought the big key to our offense in the second half was we were starting to run the ball more effectively.  We got more physical.  The game got more physical in the second half.  It was physical in the first half on their side of the ball and our defense, but we got physical in the second half offensively, and we were able to make plays.
Little disappointed in special teams.  We didn't play as well as what we have in the past.  We had some guys with big eyes that had a little stage fright.  I was a little concerned about that in a lot of areas with most guys or at least half the team going for the first time playing in the Big 12 away game.  So hopefully we got that out of the way.
But our players of the game, our Big 12 player of the week, we're proud of Cornelius Douglas being the defensive player of the week in the Big 12.  Offensive scout team player of the week, C.J. Parkhill.  Defensive scout team player of the week Brad Doru.  Special teams player of the game, Jarvis Phillips graded out 90%, and that is very good special teams when you play on all special teams.
Offensive player of the week, nine catches, 122 yards, and 1 T.D., Eric Ward.  Defensive player of the game, four tackles, one assist, two pressures, two sacks, one fumble recovery, and two tackles for a loss, Kerry Hyder had his best game.
Lot of people say why didn't Cornelius get it?  We look at the overall picture, and we're proud how Cornelius played and all that, but for a defensive tackle to play like that in a Big 12 game was huge.  How much pressure he put on the quarterback and how he was able to stop the run.
But all the players, really proud of how they did and prepared for the game.  Coaches did a good job.  Pressure is on when you lost to a team two years in a row and you go on the road.  It was a big‑time atmosphere for their fans.  And I thought we handled the pressure well.  I thought that we didn't lose our poise, and that is a huge key when you're trying to do some special things.
We got behind twice.  We caught up.  We went ahead.  So a lot of lessons learned, especially with the experience of playing on the road and playing a physical football game like that.
So we'll get that one out of the way, and now we'll start on Oklahoma.  It will be a fight like the rest of them will the rest of the year.  They're coming off an open date week.  They were disappointed in their loss to Kansas State, and they turned the ball over.  Had a great opportunity to win the game, just didn't do it.  I'm sure they've had a tough week of practice getting ready and looking forward to playing us.  Especially after we stopped their home winning streak last year.
Interesting scenario of playing Oklahoma.  All of the things that have kind of built up of them losing and then losing to us last year and then coming on the road.  So it will be a big‑time atmosphere for us.  Hopefully we'll have a lot of fans.  We'll wear all black in the game.  We're asking all fans to wear as much black as they possibly can.  It's going to be a cool day around 70°, so that shouldn't be a problem.
So we want to show the people on national television what we look like in terms of being a Red Raider when we have a blackout game.  So we're looking forward to that.
But they've got Landry Jones.  He's back.  He didn't have a great game against us last year.  I'm sure he's looking forward to getting back in the saddle and going against our defense.  It will be a challenge for us.  They can run.  They can throw.  It will be the most balanced team we've seen offensively, and their defense has tremendous speed and they can cover ground.
Last year we caught them in a couple of situations on our screen pass.  We were able to get a couple of deep routes on them.  We had a few draw plays that worked.  One of those nights where it looked like everything worked on both sides.  That was last year.  This year coming up, we'll get a different football team in terms of motivation from Oklahoma.
They're well‑coached, they're well‑prepared, and they, as well as us, are getting ready for a hard stretch down the road of a lot of conference games back‑to‑back after we both had our open dates.

Q.  Talked a lot about how he thinks you guys are playing tighter coverage, pressing the wide receivers more.  What has enabled you to do that?  Is it a matter of the technique that you talked about improving or more speed?  What's been the key to that?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  It's been more about our pass rush.  We were all over the quarterback, and it allows you to get up on the receivers.  He's got to throw the ball a lot quicker.  Last year we played looser zone because our pass‑rush wasn't quite there.  We weren't able to get in the quarterback's face.  That changes during the game.  If you see that you can rush with four instead of having to bring in five or six, and you can play zone, tighter zone, you can jump routes.  There are a couple of times we probably jumped routes too soon.  They hit a long pass on us and had an illegal receiver down the field.  It was called back.  So sometimes you have to pick your poison when you're gonna play tight.
But I liked our plan of what we were doing.  We knew we had to stop the run.  Gave up over 300 yards last year in that game, running the football.  So that was the key going into the game.  It's good to see where our safeties are playing.  Our safeties are playing well, and they're playing the run well and the pass well.
I thought the play of the game which turned it around, D.J. Johnson's hit on the receiver, knocked the ball loose, got it, went down and scored some points and gave us some momentum.  But overall we all saw the game in terms of how the defense played.  They gave our offense chances.  It wasn't even close to how we can play.  Offensively we've got to play a lot more consistent.  But that's what we've been looking for.  We've been looking and knowing that sooner or later your offense is not going to be on.  When they're not on and your defense is, it still gives you a chance.  Still gives you a chance to win, and that's what happened Saturday night.
But our coverages are getting better.  We're getting more consistent outside.  We've only played four or five different defenses in our black‑ups.  We only played 55 snaps.  We look at our defense, and I think a huge key for us if we can keep going through the year like this.  Kerry Hyder's only had like a hundred snaps and we've played four games.  He's starting defensive tackle.  We're able to rotate guys in and not get them pressure and not get beat up.  So that's going to help.
Hopefully we can get to the second half of the season which is only two weeks away, and be able to continue to say that we've played well and got our defense off the field.

Q.  How do you manage a team to keep them sharp and able to get up every week?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Well, we've got eight games left.  Is it eight?  Yeah, eight games left, and they'll all be the same.  We don't have an open date left.  Well, there is one more open date, but it's after we play our last game.  So the key to what we want to do is continue to work on our fundamentals on both sides.  We can't just put a game plan in.  We're not good enough to do that.  The other key is being able to play a lot of players.  You can't just go in and say we're going to play our starters every snap, every game.  You can't do that, because you'll get beat up and have to play your back‑ups anyway.
We need to keep our depth, stay sharp.  And we've got five games, as you said, really, eight games coming up.  I don't think there are going to be many of them that we're going to be a favorite in.  So we've got to keep it in perspective of where we're at and where we're trying to get to, and try to make ourselves better.  We played and won a game on the road the other night.
I don't know how many of these teams we could have beaten if we continued to play like that on offense.  We got 24 turnovers.  We can't count on that in every game.  We've got to get ready on both sides of the ball.  We are getting ready to see different talent levels in all these games coming up.
We need to stay sharp, which means focus on yourself.  We can't worry about the teams we are playing, Oklahoma or next week West Virginia or TCU or Texas or Kansas State.  You can't worry about it.  You've got to worry about your own team and try to keep them to the point where they understand that they've got to get better each week.  We haven't gotten to the point where we can lineup and play and think we have a shot.  We've got to improve and play above our heads at times to win some of these games.

Q.  Can you talk about Seth's development, and then secondarily, do you think that development is in part now because he's got a better defense that he knows he can get on the field?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  I think that's helped the entire offense.  After the game, you see smiles on the offensive guys' faces knowing that, hey, it's not going to count on them to win games which has been here in the past.
They've got a lot of help.  They were the first ones to say, hey, we won that game because our defense pretty much shut them down, kept them to 180‑something yards, caused four turnovers, got the ball back.  We'll get better offensively, but as we go, Seth's growing up.  Remember, he hadn't started a lot of games here.  This is just his second year.  First road game in terms of conference, tried to make things happen.
We did that last year, we tried to make things happen and we turned the ball over some.  Sometimes we made plays, but sometimes we turned it over.  I think we can be a little more cautious.  I think the offense can understand that now.  But the way the defense is playing, you can be a little more conscious, and it's not a sin to have to punt.
Don't throw it up for grabs.  We don't have to try to be fancy in terms of trying to score every time we get the ball, though we'd like to do that.  But if you put yourself in a situation where you think you've got to make a play every time, sooner or later you're going to turn the ball over.
That goes back to the team concept of, hey, let's let the defense punt it, and let the defense get in the huddle down there and see if they can hold them.  We'll get the ball back and have a good field position.  So we're making progress in that.
I think the offense, as we all have been kind of wondering, is this defense for real?  Are we good enough to say we can lineup against Iowa State and stop them, and pretty much win the game defensively?  I think we proved a lot of points Saturday night.
Now can you do that each week against some of the teams coming up?  Probably not.  We'll probably have to change our game plan.  But I think the offense really is understanding now a little more about our defense.  Our defense will learn more about the offense.  It's a two‑way street.  Then we've got to get our special teams playing along with everybody else.  If we can do that, we'll have a much better team.

Q.  Did you see Seth rebound better after that interception than you've seen him rebound before?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah, I went over and talked to him after, I forget whether it was the first or second one.  Kind of explained a little perspective of what I saw from what the defense is looking at.  I think he understands it more.  But it goes back to last year, about this time of year, we're coming into team meetings.  He knew if we were going to win games, he was going to have to win it.  We couldn't stop anybody.  We couldn't run the ball because we lost our running backs, and he was going to have to have a 4‑ or 500‑yard game to give us an opportunity.
I think, again, it's a growing experience, not just for Seth, but all of our coaches on the offensive side.  We're not going to go into every game and hold people under.  20 yards.  It's getting ready to go up considerably because the talent level goes up.  But we have the ability to stop people now.  Get our offense back on the field.  I think it's a growing process for everybody.  Not just offense or defense, but everybody involved in playing team football.

Q.  Coach, there are no heros, and everybody's doing their job.  Just talk about how important it is to do your job and not having heroes on the team?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Well, if you look at all of our players of the game, it's usually ‑‑‑ sometimes it might be the same guy.  I think Cody Davis got it a couple of weeks in a row.  But usually it's different guys that step up.  If you look at Saturday night with guys making plays, big plays, whether it's running the ball, blocking, making a block down field, there are going to be different heros each week.  But as I tell them, we're not looking for heros.  We're looking for guys that can play their position and match it up with the guys next to them so we can play as a team.  You don't have to play over your head every week.  Just play your position, play hard, play aggressive.  If we do that, we've got a chance.
But this is not an individual sport.  The quarterback has a lot of responsibility.  We know that.  What we do in any offense, he's got a lot of responsibility.  But I think but I think Seth and Michael Brewer understand, hey, we're looking pretty good on defense.  We can do a few more things offensively.  We don't have to be as open as we have to be.  We can be a little more conservative.  As we go through this year and continue to improve, we're going to have to learn how to coach this team in terms of how far can we go?  Which direction do we take the offense, the defense?
But that's a good thing when you're learning more and gaining more experience, and everybody's gaining more confidence.  But we're going to get knocked down some.  There are going to be some weeks where offensively we'll have to bail the defense out because there are going to be some points scored.  We'll have to turn that switch on during the game and say, we have to open it up more.  We have to get the ball deep.  Score on two or three plays instead of trying to get a ten‑play drive.  That's what goes into building a football team.

Q.  Can you talk about Eric and Kenny a little bit?  Did that affect him in terms of hot hands and running on Saturday night?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah, we're not into balance.  We're out there to win a game.  Kenny's a more physical guy.  We won't see many teams‑‑ there will be a few more teams that have the physical linebackers like Iowa State.  Those two kids can play, sideline to sideline.  They were making plays on out‑routes, screen passes, draw plays, they can run, they're physical, hard‑nosed.  Their defensive lines, they had to play ten, 11 guys.  They were running guys in and out.  And it was a physical game for our offense.  We've just got to learn how to play and play that type of football.
It took our offense a while to learn how to play against those guys.  But we got stronger.  The guys did a good job of adjusting, and our offensive line did a good job of adjusting.

Q.  What's made this defense so much better this year?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Confidence of knowing they're all on the same page.  It's not rocket science.  What we do is very simple.  We play gap control.  If you don't cover your gap and we watch film on Sunday, and you get chewed out for trying to do somebody else's job and not just yours.  Playing hard.  We don't two gap anybody.  We don't put a guy head up on the defensive line and say you've got this gap, and you've got this gap.  We don't do that.
Our linebackers, we give a lot of credit to our defensive front, but our linebackers are playing well.  They do switch gaps, just depending on the play.  They've been very consistent in doing that and understanding what they have to do and playing the run.
There was one time the other night they had a 30‑yard run, and the linebacker overran it.  He knew it right away.  We saw it.  I knew exactly whose fault it was.  Last year I wouldn't have had a clue because of who was in, who was out.  Sometimes we're playing two gap.  This year, players come to the sideline and knew exactly what we did right or what we did wrong.  They can go back and fix that.
Now, physically, they might get beaten by doing their technique.  But I think right now we're on the verge of these guys really getting better than what they are because they're starting to understand why we do things.
We don't do a lot.  We didn't blitz.  We played a little bit of man coverage, what we call man.  But we didn't bring a linebacker, we played man with the four man rush.  When you can do that, you don't give up big plays.  So you're going to give up some yards, but it's when you start bringing guys and playing man coverage that you can get hit pretty quick.
So we're not having to gamble yet.  We'll have to gamble some down the road to be able to get off the field, but right now the big key is our guys having confidence, knowing what they're doing and knowing what the defense is designed for, the defense that they're playing.

Q.  Talk about the number one defense in the country last week, still ranked number one?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  It's great to talk about those stats.  I mean, I think they're good for people to compare and all that.  And I've gotten a few texts from some of my friends.  But we know better than that.  We all know better than that.
Five weeks from now we'll know a lot more.  Heck, we'll know a lot more after this week.  Last year I thought we played pretty good.  We gave up 38 points.  Played the best defensive game we played all year against Oklahoma last year, and still gave up 38 points.
The whole key is turnovers.  We got the ball back.  They moved the ball some, we got the ball back, and gave it back.  Our offense controlled it at the point more minutes.  That doesn't happen very often.  When you're a passing team like we are and control the ball ten more minutes than the other offense, we're just looking to break even.  Us get 30 and they have 30.

Q.  Can you talk about Cornelius's switching over to defense and having success after a quick transition from last year?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  He's really grasped it well.  The thing that we probably hurt ourselves with is we moved him over.  He was probably getting 20, 25 snaps at wide receiver, and we put him at corner, and he's going to get 40 to 50.  We had to take him off special teams.  He was one of our special teams guys.  I'd like to move him back.  He's learning position, learning technique.
He got beat the other night on one play.  The one interception he had, he did a great job.  He went on the line of scrimmage and bluffed that he was pressing.  Then he bailed out right before the snap.  The quarterback didn't see him bail.  He took the snap.  He knew that he was going to throw a go route because he was pressing.  Well, he took it and slung it, Cornelius is standing there waiting for the ball.  It was a picture‑perfect play in how you run that type of coverage.  The quarterback made a mistake.  He could still look, and he threw it and then looked and knew he made a mistake.
But Cornelius is learning how to play that.  You don't just go out there in the lineup.  You've got to be able to play as a decoy, man, zone.  I think this defense has helped him because we haven't had to play a lot of man.  He can learn and play zone.  But he's becoming a lot better man coverage guy.

Q.  Will Starts be available this week?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  I hope.  We didn't take him last week.  He had high blood pressure things, so we didn't take him last week.  But we'll reevaluate them this week and let the doctors make that call.

Q.  Are you curious about how this team's going to respond to this big win, or do you feel like you know how they're going to respond given what happened last year?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  They know.  We talked to all the seniors.  They're setting up in their seats, big guys, ready to go and ready to play again.  We're probably going to need an open date down the road, but I think this group's going to play better by getting more confidence each week to play in.  Seeing how much they've improved.
No matter whether we win or lose, but how well they've played, you gain confidence.  Obviously, we want to win games, but we know we're going to have to play, play hard, and play consistent and get better each week as we go.  This team can play much better.  Defensively.
We probably graded out as a C.  I mean, offensively.  Defensively, probably a high B.  Special teams, the lowest we've had all year, And we won a game on the road.  So we understand we can get the job done.  We understand there is a lot of room for improvement.  That's what we want to do.  We want to keep a level head.  Understand what we're getting into, and it's going to get tough.  But we've got to keep playing hard and keep learning.

Q.  You seemed really upset about the special teams.  Was it the punt coverage, the missed kick?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah, well, returns.  We didn't block anybody.  We just made and we double timed this year on special teams.  How much time we spend coaching, more coaches coaching, recognizing returns, kickoff returns and which way we avoid.
You can just tell the other night guys are just out there, and that was about it.  We kind of lost our focus.  It's just like an offensive play.  You've got to keep your focus, do your job.  If you've got to run down and one guy turns one way and you're supposed to go to the back, you can't do that.  You can't say I know the guy going to come this way, so I'm not going to do what I was coached to do.
I don't know.  I've never had that many minuses on little things on kickoff coverage, and kickoff return, and blocked the wrong guy.  It's just a lot of things add up.
But we're playing so many good athletes that are young on those that we knew we were going to make mistakes, but we can't keep doing that.  We've got to get better.  Special teams is going to be key for us as we go down the road.

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