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December 28, 2017

Caleb Kelly

D.J. Ward

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

Pasadena, California

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with the Oklahoma defense. Ogbonnia will be with us shortly. On the end is linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, in the middle is linebacker Caleb Kelly, and on the end we have defensive end D.J. Ward.

Q. For both of you guys, and Caleb maybe start with you, could you talk about Mike Stoops and the preparation that goes into it? I know I'll see a lot of times he'll stop you guys and say, hey, have you watched this? What do you think about this? Could you talk about that relationship in terms of getting ready for a game like this and kind of how he kind of raises that expectation for you guys to kind of learn and know and figure everything out?
CALEB KELLY: Yeah, and especially being in his room, I think just him going every single day and him watching film with us, and him expecting us to watch film on our own, I think that's really important in how he coaches because he expects you to know what he's talking about.

So if you don't, you'll be lost and you'll kind of have to go back again and watch it again. He'll even pull up the plays and expect you to know it, and you have to know his terms. You have to know just his terminology. Going in, you just need to really pay attention to what he says, because he's going to give you the answer. He might only give it to you one time, so you just need to know for sure what he's talking about.

Q. D.J., for you, what's that like?
D.J. WARD: It's just amazing seeing coach Mike and how much information he can retain and regurgitate back out to you. Not even just on the practice field, sometimes it can be in the facility. After a workout, he can be walking out and he'll see you in the hallway and stop you: Hey, did you see this? What did you think about this? How does that work? Things like that.

So it keeps you on your toes at all times, just thinking about the defense and the schemes and something like that. So it gives you something to think about.

Q. Obo, could you talk about the run defense? Because when people talk about the match-up, they simplify it. It's Baker Mayfield's offense against -- and the strength of the Georgia team is defensively -- excuse me, offensively, and their run game against your run defense. Could you talk about that?
OGBONNIA OKORONKWO: Yeah, I feel like run defense is something we do pretty well. It's something we've done well all year. I think it's one of our strengths, honestly, and I feel like we match up well against their offense.

Q. D.J. and Obo, how important is winning first and second down, kind of getting them in long yardage situations where you can pin your ears back?
OGBONNIA OKORONKWO: Yeah, it's really important. We just want to get them in predictable situations. We want to try to get negative yardage on first and second down so we can just really tee off and get to put in the stuff that we've been working. First and second down will be really important in this game.

D.J. WARD: Percentage-wise, if teams are 3rd and long, 3rd and medium, that's one for the defense more than likely, just keep it simple.

Q. Caleb and D.J., from the second half of Oklahoma State forward, what changed defensively?
CALEB KELLY: From Oklahoma State?

Q. From the second half of that game through the rest of the season to now, what changed defensively?
CALEB KELLY: I think for me personally I think it was more just relaxing and having fun. I think we were too hard on ourselves sometimes, so we'd really be strict on ourselves. I think we'd go in the locker room, and we'd be yelling at each other. We'd be so hard on each other because we wanted to be perfect, and we knew we couldn't be perfect, but we should be as close to perfect as possible.

So whenever we messed up, I felt like we'd just be so hard on each other and hard on ourselves that we wouldn't be having fun and we'd be trying too hard. We wouldn't let plays come to us. We'd be trying to make plays out of our positions, out of our jobs.

I think we just needed to relax. Once we started doing that, and everybody found once you do your job and your job only, then the whole team does their job, we can continue to do well and continue to have fun and just make plays together.

D.J. WARD: Yeah, Caleb said it perfectly. Things are just too tense. Guys are afraid to make mistakes, and you can't play football like that. We just wanted to have fun, and playing football and having fun, that's the best kind of football. I think it's shown over the past couple weeks.

OGBONNIA OKORONKWO: Yeah, I felt like there was just a lot of influence from the outside that we were letting get to us. Once we blocked all of that out and played together, we started playing really complementary football with the offense toward the end of the season.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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