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December 2, 2017

Mike Stoops

Arlington, Texas

MIKE STOOPS: Really pleased with our overall effort tonight. Our position, I thought we got a little bit disoriented in the second quarter, had some stuff prepared that helped us a little bit and I didn't think our tackling kind of got sketchy there in the second quarter and we got on our heels a couple times, but our preparation was pretty much spot on what we thought we were going to get from them tonight and we were able to gain control early. Obviously in the third quarter and our offense was able to separate and that made it obviously a really complete game for us.

Q. How much did the fumble of the scoop and score set the tone?
MIKE STOOPS: A little bit, that was a new call for us, we thought we knew what they were going to attempt to do and we had a slant going that way and hit it right.

When you play someone a second time you know they're going to adjust some things but overall there is a lot of carry over. We changed some calls, our calls were different, for the most part through the course of the game, but there weren't drastic -- there's not things that you could see -- you know what I mean? We changed a couple of fits up here and there to try to help us with a couple of their run plays.

Q. The second half, Lincoln said you guys basically tackled better. Was it as simple as that or did you go out and make changes?
MIKE STOOPS: We didn't tackle very well the second quarter. We got a little bit out of sync. I thought, you know, the swing pass we had it leveraged perfect. He gets away for a little gain. They run another outside, so our leverage on the football I thought broke down a little bit as well, not leveraging it properly. The ball was able to get outside the perimeter and he cut back and created some space. They have elusive players. We didn't tackle very well, in fits and runs in the second quarter and that's where we got hurt. We settled down went over those calls at half and there was some carryover in that as well.

Q. Coach, when the second quarter was coming to an end, the Horned Frogs kick a field goal there toward the end with four seconds left on the clock. What do you think of that call? Do you think that that spoke to the respect they had for your defense?
MIKE STOOPS: Well, it was -- you know, it's risky with 7 seconds, you know you're going to make a call for a catch and throw, so it's tough for them, too. They're going to have to come up with a -- I thought they made some outstanding catches, but we were going to protect the -- you know, the end line so it's a tough situation for them.

We would have dropped, you know, guys and tried to take away because that's kind of what they have to do in that situation with 7 seconds, you get caught moving around with the ball you can get -- you know, you can get in trouble there.

But I thought that was a big series for us to come up with that stop and then I thought the momentum -- the three and out the start to the second half was huge for us, getting back on track and gaining confidence back.

Q. Now that we're through this game what do you think the College Football Playoff Committee should make of your defense? Do you think criticism is fair at this point?
MIKE STOOPS: It's not, you know what I mean? I don't know what to say. Some of it you earn, some of that, you know, some of it is that there are circumstances beyond our control. We've just got to keep playing, proud of our guys, the way they've hung in there, no one's you know, jumped ship and just kept betting better and better. We have to play a certain way. I thought we didn't play that way. I thought we gave up some third downs we shouldn't have. We've got to be able to play better and we got them in bad, negative situations. We may not overwhelm you anywhere, but we've got a lot of talented players and we have to play as a group. We have to continue to find ways to put them in position to make plays.

Q. Coach, following up on that, again, there has been a lot made of your defense. Is it hard for you to keep that from your defensive players or does that add extra motivation since people are questioning them on that national scale?
MIKE STOOPS: My message, we're either going to get there or we're not, and it's going to be because of us. We would rather did do it the good way, and that's all we have talked about the last three weeks. We don't want to be the cause of us not getting to where we want to go. We want to be the reason we're going where we're going, and that's the attitude we took. That is the way they've played. It's not always perfect, but our guys have really been a good group to work with.

They've taken all the criticism. We all have, and like I say, we've earned it. But we fought our way through the whole season and here we are again. It always hasn't been that way with us. This is a unique conference in a lot of ways. There are some awfully talented play callers in this league. There are some awfully talented quarterbacks in this league. We're always going to be under stress, and at times we didn't handle it as well as we wanted to, sure. But we have some talented young players and we're on our way back.

Q. Mike, you've gone into playoff and national contention in the past with this program. You're familiar with the mentality and what it takes. Does this group compare favorably?
MIKE STOOPS: Very much so. I think it all obviously starts with Baker and just his spirit, his talent, his ability to rally the troops. That's where it starts. Your quarterback to win at the highest level, your quarterback has to be, you know, one of the most talented players. Whether he is or isn't, I know -- whether he wins the trophy or not, there is no one you want to go into a game with without a player of his magnitude that puts himself in a position to win. Obviously you have to have defense to win. So we're going to have to keep advancing. We're going to have to -- those two things are going to have to go with us. You're going to have to play some defense and your quarterback has to be a very talented guy.

You look at the people that have won it. Clemson has talent on both sides of the ball. I'm just looking at recent history, and Alabama, these are some of the most talented teams in the country. We have to do it probably a little different way. But that's not going to change our approach to what we do.

Q. Mike, how important was it to get that stop at the beginning of the second half? They get the field goal, the ball back, it's a 7-point game. You guys three and out get the punt. How important was that?
MIKE STOOPS: Again, I think that was a big series for us to go three and out there and get the ball back in good field position and our team go down and march it in. That took some of the pressure off. I think we started to, for whatever reason we didn't change anything. I thought we tackled and hit our spots better in the second half. Overall the game plan, you know, what we worked was the right things and we were pretty much spot on what we thought we would get. We knew at halftime if we played a little bit better. I thought we came out and played well. I thought the second quarter we were our own worst enemy throughout that time.

Q. Bob was down on the field hugging players afterwards. What can you say about Lincoln and the way he led this program and didn't allow any drop-off this season?
MIKE STOOPS: Very talented person in a lot of ways. Has a unique way about him. He's an easy guy to really appreciate his approach and who he is as a person and his core values. You see it all the time. The players are very comfortable. He's a very, very talented play caller. He's a very polished person, and like I say, he's easy to coach for. That's for sure.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much. Good luck on the rest of the season.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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