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December 29, 2017
MARK ANDREWS: That's Coach Riley's mindset and I think that's probably been the biggest thing.
Q. What did you learn from just (inaudible)?
MARK ANDREWS: There's a lot of things to juggle. It's a big stage. There's not much bigger that you can get in college football. There's a lot of different distractions and whatnot.
So just being able to help the younger guys out and help them stay grounded during this time and focused and realize that this is a huge stage, but not make it too big of a stage and stay focused.
Q. Guys (inaudible)?
MARK ANDREWS: No, I haven't -- haven't been washing my hands after that but he's been all right.
Q. Is it all confidence in his play (indiscernible)?
MARK ANDREWS: That's going to be Coach Riley talking about that, not me.
Q. He's throwing you the football. Do you have to wear gloves?
MARK ANDREWS: I always wear gloves. So I'll be fine.
Q. Like being in a press conference when he's not here?
MARK ANDREWS: Yeah, a little bit. He's always at these things. He's done it for a long time. So a little weird. But it will be fun.
Q. There's actually people talking to other players.
MARK ANDREWS: Yeah. Exactly.
Q. What is the narrative about Big 12 football (indiscernible) and what do you think is not accurate?
MARK ANDREWS: I think the narrative -- I'm not going to say it's accurate -- is teams that throw the heck out of the ball, fast offenses, score a lot of points and play no defense.
And to me I don't think there's no defenses. I think that it's Big 12, offenses are air raid, they go fast tempo and there's so many different variables to stop that it's hard to stop and there's not many people that can.
So I don't think -- I think there are very good defenses in the Big 12. And I don't think that because of our offenses that they should be labeled as Big 12 doesn't play defense.
Q. Why not?
MARK ANDREWS: Because Big 12 offenses is, they run this air raid, and they have these read-options and there's so many different variables to stop -- it is really tough. There's a lot of different things you have to game plan for. You do one thing, we're going to do the other. It's vice versa. There's so many different things. And it just becomes a real pain to stop.
Q. Do you feel like you have to make any adjustments when you play an SEC team? Does your mind work like that?
MARK ANDREWS: Personally for us, we've always been about us. We take it to -- every week and obviously this game's no different that the only thing that matters is how we play it and how we execute. So that's just how it is.
We're going to do our thing and stay true to ourselves and we'll be all right.
Q. Is it okay that you guys have gotten here and if you win the championship to label this team one that outscored everybody? Is there anything with that?
MARK ANDREWS: No, that's definitely not the case. Our defense has really stepped up in big moments this game. And as of late they've been playing really good ball.
So our defense scored actually against TCU which flipped the game. They've done a lot of great things and we wouldn't be here without them. They step up in big moments. They've been playing good ball right now. So really proud of those guys.
Q. Did you notice after the OSU game, I guess the narrative wasn't almost first you guys won, look at this unbelievable shootout in the Big 12. It was almost a mocking tone the national narrative. How has that registered with you?
MARK ANDREWS: I don't really listen to media all that much. I know the narrative behind the Big 12 and no defense. I don't care about it much. I know how it is. Year in, year out, Big 12 does well in bowls and has proved themselves.
I'm not worried about it just because of the type of offenses we have. And obviously you look at our defense and what they've been able to do and how good they're playing right now it's pretty special.
Q. If I told you on June 6 that Bob Stoops was going to retire and Lincoln at age 33 would take this team to the playoffs what would be the biggest shock (inaudible)?
MARK ANDREWS: No, that wasn't a thought that had come across my head at all. When I got that news, it was definitely a shock.
You knew that Lincoln was going to be a head coach. I didn't know where, just because of the type of special coach that he is. And he knew some day that he would get this opportunity. But for him to get it right now was a shocker. And for coach to leave at that point was a shocker.
Obviously it worked out. They did an incredible job of making that transition very smooth. And credit to where we're at right now for how easy it is.
Q. Why was he sort of the right coach at the right time?
MARK ANDREWS: He's a very -- he's a special coach. It's hard to describe him in one word or whatnot. But he's a player's coach. He really relates to players. But he's also a very smart guy.
He's able to incorporate what he's done with this offense through the whole team and spread his mentality and hard work, which has been infectious for our offense for the last two years and now three -- spread for the whole team this last couple of years.
Q. Does his youth register with you? We all talk about it because he was 33 when he got the job. Does it show itself, is it good, bad?
MARK ANDREWS: I don't look at how young he is just because of how he carries himself. He doesn't carry himself with that, he's a young coach and has stuff to prove. He's very mature in taking up his job. You don't notice it just because how well he's done.
Q. (Inaudible) what stands out as far as what makes (inaudible)?
MARK ANDREWS: They're able to do a lot of different things just because of how athletic and physical they are. And all across the board they have guys that can replace each other and run around. They're able to do a lot of schemes and whatnot just because of their ability to be physical, but at the same time run down and run down the ball and be fast.
Q. Did you talk to (inaudible) and stuff (inaudible)?
MARK ANDREWS: I said hi a couple of times. Didn't really talk too much. But seems like a nice kid and a great ball player.
Q. What stands out?
MARK ANDREWS: He's relentless. We turn on the tape, he sheds blockers really well and he gets to the ball. He doesn't have anything stop him. He'll get to the ball no matter what. So he's a smart player. But he's a relentless player as well.
Q. You've been a good player since the day you arrived at OU. Really had a great junior year. What's been the difference with you? Is it just maturity, growing up?
MARK ANDREWS: I think the last couple of years I've been kind of sharing some time with people and growing up, as you said, has been something I've been doing and maturing and just getting familiar with this offense.
And obviously this year the time is right for me. I've got a lot of opportunities and taking advantage of them. So I haven't had that -- I had Sterling my first year, which I had to fight for some time with him. And Geno last year, obviously a great player.
And this year I've kind of stepped up as the leader in the inside room and one of the leaders on the team. So it was my time to step up and do my thing.
Q. How much did your offseason help you? You see the strength and size difference, you haven't lost any speed. Looks like you had a great offseason at the end of the year?
MARK ANDREWS: Coach Schmidty and the whole work staff did a great job. Obviously I'm at the right weight and I think it showed. Being able to be this size and being able to catch the ball and move around and separate from DBs and linebackers has been a huge help. And I think it shows this year because I'm definitely bigger, stronger, I'm the same speed.
Q. Baker's improvising has been a big part of this team. What's it like when he's scrambling around?
MARK ANDREWS: He's someone that -- every practice we focus on his ability to work out and scramble and knowing where to be. Our offense is very in tune with that and his ability to scramble. He's someone that's not predictable.
So you really have to be on the same page with him. That's just getting reps with him. And getting reps with him has been a huge help in knowing what he's thinking and where he wants you to be. Just knowing you where he wants to be has been a huge help.
Q. Has he been doing a little less of that in practice this week from when you started?
MARK ANDREWS: He's been fun.
Q. (Indiscernible) this team and that stigma.
MARK ANDREWS: Every game is different. Every situation is different. I don't know if there's too many comparisons. I would say one thing right now that this team has a ton of chemistry, all three sides of the ball. And we feed off of each other.
So I think that's something that's a big -- I don't know if it's a difference, but something that stands out for me and this team is the type of players and the type of chemistry we have is pretty special.
MARK ANDREWS: I've grown a lot. There's a lot of different things that I've been through with this team and in life that have kind of shaped me into who I am and the player I am today.
So there's so many different things that have changed me since then, but that's just the part of playing the game and getting better and getting reps and progressing.
Q. Question about Lincoln. When you got here, the spring of '15, I know it was a transition for the leaders. What stood out for you?
MARK ANDREWS: He came in right away. His ability to come in and kind of capture the players at the start of it, it was very evident from the start that he's a player's coach. His ability to win us over was very impressive.
And then obviously his offensive schemes have been second to none these last few years. His ability to call plays and at the right times have been pretty impressive. So I would say his ability to win players' trust over and his offensive mind has been awesome.
Q. Anything specific about winning (inaudible) an interesting note that he did?
MARK ANDREWS: Yeah, this wasn't right when -- he did this with the offense. But he had a meeting with us this last year when taking over the team. And basically sat us down which I thought was pretty impressive and that he doesn't want us to give him trust; he wants to earn the trust.
And as a head coach, I'm sure most coaches would come in expecting to have that trust already and expecting kind of being all high on their horse, but he didn't. He has earned it and he's done what he said. And I think that's something that's really stood out for me and this team.
Q. Is that surprising to you (inaudible)?
MARK ANDREWS: Yeah, it wasn't surprising, just because I know the type of person he is and know his work ethic and how he views things for being with him for the last two years.
But I think for everybody else on the team, especially the defensive guys and specialists, it was kind of a this guy's for real, a real genuine person and he's a guy we can go to and trust.
Q. From a presnap standpoint, how much do you guys (inaudible) relay?
MARK ANDREWS: Depends. There's different things we do, different play calls. Obviously we incorporate both hand signals and verbal signals. So it's a little bit of a mixture of both.
Q. Does it follow (indiscernible) or does Eric (phonetic) play a role in that? I know he has (inaudible)?
MARK ANDREWS: Centers have an incredibly tough job to do. They have to know what the defense is in at all times and make those calls to get the line situated. If the center is off, we're all going to be off. So it's a tough job. There's a lot riding on that.
He obviously does a great job of doing it. He does a lot of film work to get to the point that he's at. And again credit to him, because that's a hard job to do.
Q. Anything you guys notice, the work that he puts in --
MARK ANDREWS: I don't think that looking at a team, it's hard to -- sometimes the O line doesn't get noticed all the time, but it's very evident to see when we have an O line like this, there has to be people doing things right. And he's one of those guys that have stood out and done an incredible job getting with his mental side. It's been pretty impressive.
Q. When a really great offense goes against a really great defense, (indiscernible) team like that?
MARK ANDREWS: It's hard to exploit a team that's so good throughout the board. Usually there's places that we look to to exploit; but with Georgia, obviously great players, all across the board that it's going to be tough. It's going to be a fight, a dogfight. And going in there, we know it's going to be a four-quarter game. And we're excited for that.
It's going to be a challenge. Again, there's not much that we can exploit with them just because of how good they are across the board.
Q. What do you see on film - Roquan (phonetic)?
MARK ANDREWS: He's a relentless guy. He doesn't stop until he gets to the ball. He sheds blockers very well. And he gets to the ball.
Again, I would say one word to describe him is relentless. But he's also a smart player that know the game and finds -- he's got a really good knack of putting his nose to the ball.
Q. (Inaudible) a reputation of being around the football, and what do you see?
MARK ANDREWS: Again, big physical guy. Those guys are all kind of big, physical. They're smart players. They're all coached very well. But they play fast. They play physical. And it's guys like him that make this defense great.
Q. Have you seen him flinch this year at all, a young guy taking over a big program, for the first time he's been a head coach, from the outside, looks like everything's gone pretty smoothly, internally have you seen him flinch or hesitate?
MARK ANDREWS: No, I haven't. He's done an incredible job. And he's done it so gracefully. And I don't think there's many people that can take over a program of this magnitude and do this good of a job. He hasn't flinched once. And I think it's a credit to who he's been behind who he's learned behind, and obviously he's done great. No, he hasn't flinched.
Q. Any concern at all with Baker?
MARK ANDREWS: No, no. Baker will be good to go.
Q. You guys feed off not just his playmaking but his energy. That's been impacted by an illness, worried about that as much as anything; you usually see him bouncing around (inaudible)?
MARK ANDREWS: I'm not going to talk about Baker. That's really for Coach Riley to talk about. But these last two practices have been some of the best practices we've had all year in terms of sharpness, energy. The guys are ready to play.
It's obvious these practices have been very energy-filled and passionate, and the guys are flying around. So it was really good to see.
Q. Does Baker becoming a quarterback to win the Heisman validate him, Lincoln become the level of head coach (inaudible) without Baker?
MARK ANDREWS: That's a good question. I think that they both feed off of each other. I think they're both great. But I think that them together is a special combo. And their ability to work together and do everything that they've done, it hasn't been just one person. It hasn't just been Baker or Lincoln, it's been more than that.
And obviously them two together has been quite the combo.
Q. So maybe individually both can still be great, but they've reached a level maybe they couldn't have gotten to on their own?
MARK ANDREWS: I think that's a good way to put it, yeah. I think them two together is pretty special. Obviously they're going to be great no matter what because of the type of people they are, but them together is very special.
Q. Preseason, every season everyone talks national championship. What's got this team in the position where they can see it? What do you guys do to get here?
MARK ANDREWS: This team is hungry. The type of work that we put in the offseason, we've had a couple of goals all year, which we do every year. But this year kind of stands out in how driven we were.
After that loss to Iowa State kind of woke us up to this is not how we want our season to go. But everyone has been singularly focused every week since then; we all know what we want to do and what we all know what can achieve if we do it.
So just being able to have everything in mind and why people are here and why people like Baker came back and realizing that, kind of just focuses us and allows us to play with that edge.
Q. With that fact, did you know it's since 2000 that the program won a national title, does it push you more to put the team into National Championship talk?
MARK ANDREWS: Yeah, we know, obviously, when our last one was. It's been a little while. Most teams don't even get here. So we've been to the playoffs twice in the last three years, which is pretty special.
But, again, we're not stopping there. This is not our goal to get here. There's more to this and more for this team and excited to play in this game and this Rose Bowl and then see what's ahead.
Q. What do you remember about the feeling walking off the field in 2015, the Orange Bowl, one game away from the title game, what were those feelings and did they motivate you at all moving forward?
MARK ANDREWS: We were so close. That team was -- obviously everyone's defeated and let down and felt like we had more in the tank and felt like we could have done more, especially after the first half being up and not really playing well and the second half things not going right and a lot of injuries and just didn't play the way we wanted to in the second half but felt like we could have.
But it was really hard. And there was a lot of guys in that locker room saying if we ever had the chance to get back to this point, that it would be different. And different in the ways that we wouldn't look back at the game and say we should have, could have, would have. We would leave it all out there and leave no doubts. I think this team has done a great job of doing that, leaving no doubts and playing their hearts out, and that's why we're here.
Q. Focus on Baker's status health-wise, what's it been like for him not being around some of these things, just his element, the (indiscernible) bowl, what's it been like not having him in the team functions, felt different this week for that reason at all?
MARK ANDREWS: Well, I get more interviews now. (Laughter). But that's probably the only thing I notice. It was weird not having him here because he's always here. But he's not dying or anything.
But, yeah, just more interviews probably for me, more talking.
Q. Do you like that?
MARK ANDREWS: I don't mind talking. I think I'm decent at it. I don't mind it. So it's not a bad thing.
Q. Is it easy to shoulder all that for you guys as a team, does it help you at all?
MARK ANDREWS: Yeah --
Q. Some of you guys in the shadows a little bit.
MARK ANDREWS: Yeah, he's done a great job of taking that spotlight and there's not many people that can do what he's done. And everything he does with the media and the type of attention he gets, it's a lot. And he deals with it incredibly well.
Q. Can you expound on that, like how he handles everything that he's gone through in his college career as far as the attention?
MARK ANDREWS: Yeah, being the type of player he is, it comes with a different set of rules. And the type of attention he gets, he gets everyone talking to him, everyone looking at him in different situations, and his ability to deal with it and stay grounded, and it's been pretty impressive.
There's not many 18- to 22-, 23-year-olds that can do that and have that type of maturity. Again, I think it's the type of way he's been raised up and knows his goals and is very motivated.
I think it's just all those things together that has allowed him to really flourish and keep his head and keep grounded to who he is.
Q. You spent a couple of years with Cale. Wondering now that Lincoln is the head coach and all the assistants trying to do more to help him out, what have you noticed different about Cale maybe this last two years as an offensive coach?
MARK ANDREWS: I think his ability to -- he's definitely done more in terms of offense and helping out with -- he's got a great understanding of running backs obviously, but now he's also got a great understanding of what the O line has to do and whatnot.
So his concept and his ability to wrap his mind around the whole offense is greatly expanded. And I think it's helped being around Coach Lincoln. I think Coach Lincoln relies on him to do that and be that sort of offensive coordinator mind, take not just the inside receivers now but to look at the whole big picture.
Q. Who is (indiscernible), the most surly interview guy on the team?
MARK ANDREWS: Surly?
MARK ANDREWS: That's a good question. I don't think there's anyone that absolutely hates it. That guy is a very quiet guy.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports