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October 8, 2012

Manny Diaz

Q.  Kenny said a little bit that after watching film, it really wasn't as bad in a lot of areas as people think.
MANNY DIAZ:  I agree. When we came in as a coaching staff and we went over it, there were so many positives on there, there were so many things that we didn't even know that we could do going into a game facing the challenges that they presented for us.
I think it was natural for our guys to feel bad about the way the game transpired, and there certainly are enough mistakes for us to correct, but there were a lot of positives that kind of have me excited going forward.

Q. What were the positives?
MANNY DIAZ:  Well, you know, on 1st, 2nd and 3rd down when you took out the screen passes, Geno Smith completed half of his passes for like 120 yards, and this is a guy we're talking about usually more touchdown passes than completions. Those are things that had not been done to him before.
And then you go 3 of 12 on 3rd down, what ended up happening, it was like playing a great baseball team and getting more outs per inning. I think one of the soundest stats in the game was field position because they were either starting for‑‑ for some of the drives, not all, but they were either starting in four‑down territory as it turned out or usually a 1st down got them into four‑down territory.
But you've got to give them credit, too. There's a lot of people that would have punted where they had the football, but that just goes into when you have a guy like that that can hold the football that you can trust, that can execute on those 4th down plays, sometimes you just have to give him the credit for having confidence in their guy and then their guy making a play when it mattered.

Q. On the negative side, how many missed tackles were there this game, and were you more pleased with‑‑
MANNY DIAZ:¬† No, we had less. We were in single digits. We had, I think, seven, which was the best we have done, and part of that goes to the way that we covered. It was like we said going in, Tavon Austin is hard to tackle. He's going to have a bunch of missed tackles, people try and tackle him. Guys like Kenny Vaccaro did a great job of trying to deny him the ball. What you were doing was you were limiting run‑after‑catch possibilities, which is where he gets to the open field, and that's where he's so hard to bring to the ground.
Again, some of the physical‑‑ the way our defensive line played up front, the way we rushed the passer and things like that was very exciting to see. As a coach, and again, you want to talk about improving, we had to find a way to win the game, which was ultimately our failure, but there's a lot of things to get you excited about coming to work the next day.

Q. What about the linebackers specifically?
MANNY DIAZ:¬† Same thing with them. They woke up Sunday morning disappointed. They came in, and after they watched the film, they felt a lot better. Certainly, again, there were some things that‑‑ with what West Virginia does, West Virginia, with their three wide outs most of the time, they are running pass routes while they're running a running play, okay. This is just what the game has turned into.
If you're going to single cover all those wide receivers with somebody deep, then you can outnumber their running game. But then it's one‑on‑one on Tavon Austin, now he's going to catch the ball, and now you have to tackle the guy in space. So you really have to devote on almost every snap five men to cover their three wide receivers, which left it six versus six on the inside.
It was a hard day for our linebackers, and that's what I tried to explain to them. I said, I could put my ego out in front; we could have tried to do something to hold them to negative four rushing yards and they could have thrown for 4,000, and we made‑‑ who knows what would happen if that was the result. But again, if I looked at what we did‑‑ what I was happy about, I was happy to see Steve Edmond start to make some positive plays; I was happy for Kenneth Thompson really in his first game ever going against an offense like that to show up and slash and make a couple plays. They'll take confidence from that going forward from here on out whenever we get Jordan back.

Q. What did Mykkele Thompson show you?
MANNY DIAZ:¬† Mykkele was exciting. He is a guy that made his living carrying the football, so from the time he was first put on shoulder pads, he was taught to avoid people, and one of the‑‑ Duane Akina has a lot of good qualities as a coach, but one of the things he does is take guys like that and sort of harden them up to become physical backs because we really try to pride ourselves on being a physical secondary. One of the plays to me that was most exciting about Mykkele, I think they threw a screen pass and it was on our sideline, an offensive lineman came to block him, and Reggie Wilson was pursuing the ball from inside out, and you'll see a lot of defensive backs, what their natural instinct will do is to retreat versus the offensive lineman. What that does is for Reggie is going to make the tackle, somebody just sticks their nose in it, and Mykkele went there and knocked into the offensive lineman. And that was a big play in our room.
So during that, being a short tackler, it was a game where communication was secondary with all the crowd noise, which was unbelievable, was going to be paramount and we were always on point with what we were doing with the multiple different coverages we were playing. There was a lot of things to be excited about that he can take forward into this next game.

Q. How do you strike a balance between (inaudible) Geno Smith might be the best quarterback in the country, and harness all that going forward?
MANNY DIAZ:¬† Yeah, well, what you show the guys is we just needed to win, and that's what's always funny is even the week before, all you have to do in the game is find a way to win it, and what it came down to, and I think we said this even all week last week, it was going to come down to winning the critical situations, and that's where the 4th downs, that's where some of the red zone throws and really sort of the last two possessions of the game ‑‑ it was like a great basketball game where everybody is hitting three‑pointers and just insane plays back and forth, and ultimately it comes down to the execution and the last couple possessions.
So you can show, yes, we understand what we just defended, and they're going to give a lot of people problems. And that's why we can take confidence out of it.
Okay, now, how do we win the football game?  What was the initial plan?  Where did we fail in trying to win the football game?  Better than we could have ever imagined on 3rd down, lost the game on 4th down, red zone defense. I think we had given up one touchdown in the red zone all year or something like that, and we gave up five. Things like that that we felt we could have been stronger in.

Q. It's almost like you know Oklahoma, Baylor each have strong offenses, so you're going to give up some points, but just making plays at specific times is the difference between a win and a loss?
MANNY DIAZ:¬† It is, yeah. The Big 12 is a play‑making league on defense, to be sure, and that's why I was very excited to see that we made plays, scoring on defense, which was a big deal, blocking a field goal, blocking a punt, things like that, that normally relate to winning.
But winning is also possession downs and red zone. I would contend it's yards versus points, that you will surrender yards in this conference, the offenses are too good, the tempo that they go at, just the different ways they attack you. But it's the points, how do you stop the points. Not as many explosive plays in terms of touchdowns. We were a little bit better at that, so now it comes down to possession downs and red zone.

Q. What do you take out of the Oklahoma loss last year and what do you see from them offensively?
MANNY DIAZ:¬† I think in the game, I think you understand who they are and how it's going to transpire. I think what stands out, everybody said this going into the game, it's a‑‑ the atmosphere around the game I think is so unique, I think it favors those that have been there before. You could see the players on both sides of the ball that had been there before, they start the game a little faster than the ones that don't. We rely on our experienced players to push through that. I think we're a little more experienced this year perhaps than we were last.
And then the other issue is because of the dynamic of the crowd, it's a game much like this past weekend, but it's a game of giant momentum plays, and when something happens from a momentum standpoint, and it's going to happen for one side, that you really are relying on your play makers on the other team to sort of make the play to get momentum switched back because you can really feel‑‑ it goes back to that NCAA tournament type atmosphere. When someone gets on a roll it tends to snowball in that setting, more than it might if you're playing at home or on the road because of the 50/50 fan base.

Q. Talk about your first experience there last year, the bus ride, the tunnel, the whole deal.
MANNY DIAZ:  Yeah, it's an exciting day to be around. It doesn't happen all over the country in college football. This is what makes us different. This is what makes this game unique. As a coach you always look from the inside in, you want to be a part of those type of games. But the most important thing is we're not just going there to make up numbers, we're going there to win the football game, and how do we have to do that. So that'll be our main focus, and I'm really excited about the challenge.

Q. How dangerous is Landry Jones if given time to make plays?
MANNY DIAZ:¬† Yeah, I think Landry Jones is an outstanding quarterback. I think he's been one of the best quarterbacks in the country in the last couple years. The issue with time‑‑ to me, what quarterback doesn't want the time?¬† What quarterback wants pressure?¬† I think some of the criticisms that get leveled against him are really, really unfair. I think he's a great player. I think he's been a winner the time he's been there. He can make every throw that you need to make.
Yeah, I mean, every quarterback‑‑ Geno Smith didn't play as well with‑‑ no one plays as well with pressure.
So I think that's sort of‑‑ I think that's unfair. And again, with his experience in the game, there's nothing he hasn't seen, there's nothing you show him that he hasn't seen before. He'll give us everything we can handle.

Q. Seems like the defense against West Virginia at times played with extra emotion and we saw that jumping around after you guys scored. Is that something you liked?
MANNY DIAZ:¬† Well, it is. Again, with defense, you have to play with emotion. Part of the credit goes to our crowd. Our crowd was unbelievable on Saturday night. You know, just helped our guys play, helped our guys get excited to play, helped us‑‑ because again, momentum did shift, which we were talking about. They went up by a couple scores and then we fumbled. It was 21‑7 when the defense went out on the field. And there's a chance now, with Geno's second play, they throw a flea flicker, they're going for the jugular right now. Our guys match up on it great on the coverage end and Jeffcoat gets a sack. He only gets a sack because they're trying to get Stedman down the field and we've got three defensive backs surrounding Stedman, so great discipline by the back end. Then we get the sack. The next play or two plays later there's a fumble‑‑ I'm sorry, that drive turned into a blocked punt, the next drive turns into a fumble, and bang, it's 21‑21, the place is jumping. That's what the guys‑‑ a little like what we're talking about, that's how ‑‑ they now believe they can make momentum plays to get the game turned around.
It's hard to do, though, with that energy because one thing you know about Oklahoma they're going to come out with great energy and great spirit and passion. This is going to be very much like we've been through, and this is what this conference is all about now. These teams are all too good, and so every week it's going to be a heavyweight battle with plays back and forth. So you're going to have to understand, you're going to have to respond to some adversity and you're going to have to understand no matter what happens you're going to have to get back up off the mat and keep swinging.

Q. The offense kind of has to keep that even keel with defense and really ride that emotion for all it's worth; is that fair?
MANNY DIAZ:¬† Well, I think everyone has to play with great emotion. I think there's an intensity level that an offense, which is a precision style‑‑ a precision‑based outfit where defensively you should have a little bit more intensity than perhaps on offense. But at the same time, you have to manage that because it's a very stressful environment. Oklahoma's offense with the tempo they're running is a very stressful offense to go against. So you have to make sure that you don't wear yourself out.
So yeah, it's a game where being locked in and being ready for the next play because they're going to present the next play so fast that you don't have a lot of time to think about what just happened. So it's a game where, again, we can sort of rah‑rah and tear down the locker room door, but we'd better be ready to play the next play. That's really what matters against Oklahoma.

Q. Did Malcolm Brown show that he's ready and maybe deserved more playing time?
MANNY DIAZ:¬† Yeah, we were excited about some of the plays that Malcolm showed when he was in there. We had him in there in some critical situations. That's just the development of a football player. You see him, he started doing some nice things back in two‑a‑days and then struggled in group work, then did some nice things in group work but then in team was kind of lost and then started making good plays in team and then he struggles when he goes into a game, and he goes into a game and does a little bit, but now he goes in the game again and makes big plays. Obviously he's a great athlete, he's got great change of direction for a guy his size, so things like that make his future very bright.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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